Justice Dept. Accuses BP of “Gross Negligence” over Gulf Oil Spill
The Obama administration has accused BP of gross negligence and willful misconduct in causing the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010.
The court document blasts BP’s leadership in no uncertain terms. Referring to “A Culture of Corporate Recklessness,” it states that “The behaviour, words and actions of these BP executives would not have been tolerated in a middling size company manufacturing dry goods for sale in a suburban mall.” It criticizes “the utter lack of any semblance of investigation of the systemic management causes deeply implicating the corporate managers and leadership who caused and allowed the rig-based mechanical causes to fester and ultimately explode in a fireball of death, personal injury, economic catastrophe, and environmental devastation.”
Referring to a “negative pressure test” performed by BP and Transocean hours before the blowout, the report states, "That such a simple, yet fundamental safety-critical test could have been so stunningly, blindingly botched in so many ways, by so many people, demonstrates gross negligence.”
The designation of “gross negligence” under the Clean Water Act, is an important distinction because it would mean the company could face $21 billion in civil damages alone—almost quadruple the penalty if “gross negligence” is not confirmed. BP also faces criminal charges.
The case may not go to trial, which is scheduled to begin January 14. Both sides are negotiating to reach a settlement to resolve both civil and criminal violations.
The Justice Department reportedly sought a $25 billion agreement from BP, but now may be willing to settle for $15 billion.
-David Wallechinsky, Noel Brinkerhoff
To Learn More:
United States Memorandum (U.S. District Court, Eastern Louisiana) (pdf)
Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: BP Accused of 'Gross Negligence and Wilful Misconduct' by US Government (by Shane Croucher, International Business Times)
US Lays Out Examples of 'Gross Negligence' by BP (by David Ingram, Reuters)
Justice Dept. Charges First Small Fry in BP Oil Spill Disaster (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
Interior Dept. Report on Gulf Oil Disaster Places Blame on BP (and some on Halliburton and Transocean) (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
Presidential Report Blasts BP and Others for Fatal, Cost-Saving Decisions (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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