BP faces damages claim over pipeline through Colombian farmland
Date: 11 Nov 2009
BP is being sued by a group of Colombian farmers who say that the company's activities have damaged their land and crops. The case, which is the first of its kind being brought in a UK court, alleges that the company's Colombian subsidiary has caused landslides and pollution to water supplies and soil.
The group are seeking damages for negligence by the company. If the action is successful, it could set a precedent for other potential claims by communities in countries that have been affected by the activities of oil or extractive companies.
BP operates a pipeline that crosses farming land. The plaintiffs allege that an environmental impact assessment carried out by the company showed that there was serious risk of damage, but this had not been explained to the farmers at the time.
A previous claim by Colombian farmers reached an out of court settlement. BP did not admit liability in that case. The company says that the main cause of damage to farmland has been action by the farmers to raze forests for cattle grazing land.
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In a recent article, the BBC's economics editor Robert Peston highlighted the fact that in 2012 the chances are that the economy - punch drunk as it is from the various flavours of debt crisis it has been pummelled with over the course of the year - will be hit by the collapse of a major bank and / or government.
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