Senate legislation may leave BP with bigger clean-up bill

“The bottom line is that oil spills can leave massive holes in the economy. If you spill it, you should have to fill it,” Menendez said in a statement.

Third parties can still sue BP under different laws other than the OPA. Several groups have already joined class action suits against the oil company seeking damages.

Lisa Novak, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Coast Guard, said the cap on damages under OPA, “does not concern the potential state liability regimes that are expressly permitted under federal law.  Nor does it address the potential for civil and criminal liability under various other applicable federal laws … or any applicable state laws.”