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The Champion

September/October 2010 , Page 10 

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Is BP Just a Drop in the Ocean? A Primer on Environmental Crimes and The Continuing Enforcement Trends

By Peter Crane Anderson

In every decade since the 1950s, certain names or images emerge that symbolize a particular environmental crisis. Leaking buried drums at Love Canal. A contaminated river catching fire (Cuyahoga River). Ominous clouds rising above Three Mile Island. Oil-soaked Alaskan wildlife coated with the contents of the Exxon Valdez. The list goes on. Apart from capturing the emotions and sparking outrage among the American public, these crises often spawn new and tougher environmental crimes or bolster more aggressive prosecutions. The year 2010 is no exception.

This year the “poster child” of adverse environmental harm has been BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, with constant video footage of thousands of gallons of oil leaking a mile below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. Putting aside the ongoing debate, the total amount of crude oil released during the nearly three-month leak has been estimated to be at least 200 million gallons (between 50,000 to 60,000 barrels

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