US government sends oil clean-up bill to BP

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The US government Wednesday sent a sixth bill to BP for clean-up costs related to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, bringing the total to date to 389.9 million dollars, officials said.

BP has already spent eight billion dollars trying to contain the disaster and has forecast that it will eventually cost the group more than 32.2 billion dollars.

Wednesday's 128.5-million-dollar bill covers costs incurred by federal, state and local governments involved in the massive response effort, US officials said.

An estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil gushed out of a BP well off the coast of Louisiana after it was ruptured by an April 20 explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which killed 11 workers.

It took 87 days to stem the flow of oil into the sea and hundreds of miles of coastline from Texas to Florida were sullied, killing wildlife and devastating tourism-dependent local economies.

Most of the massive slick has been dispersed, dissolved, burned off or skimmed off the surface and the bulk of the cleanup work is now focused on oil that seeped into Louisiana's fragile coastal wetlands.

However, experts caution that tarballs from the spill will continue to wash ashore for years.

The runaway well was plugged last month and work is under way to finally "kill" it by pumping drilling mud and cement through a relief well.

That operation is expected to be completed by the end of the month.

© 2010 AFP

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