Published: Dec 15, 2010 7:58 PM EST
Updated: Dec 15, 2010 4:58 PM EST

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Justice Department has sued BP Exploration and Production Inc. and eight other companies in the Gulf oil spill disaster in an effort to recover billions of dollars from the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

The Obama administration's lawsuit asks that eight companies be held liable without limitation for all removal costs and damages caused by the oil spill, including damages to natural resources.

The lawsuit also seeks civil penalties under the Clean Water Act.

An explosion that killed 11 workers at BP's Macondo well last April led to oil spewing from the company's undersea well - more than 200 million gallons in all, by the government's estimate. BP disputes the figure.