The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
BP Found Guilty of 'Gross Negligence' and 'Willful Misconduct' in 2010 Gulf Oil Disaster
Today a federal judge in New Orleans found BP guilty of "gross negligence" and "willful misconduct" in the April 20, 2010 explosion of an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. The oil spill that resulted from the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig was the largest in U.S. history, spewing oil for more than three months. It killed 11 people and continues to have environmental impacts to this day on beaches, wetlands, wildlife, fisheries and a host of businesses in five states.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
According to Bloomberg, BP could face a fine as high as $18 billion. Plaintiffs included the federal government, the five Gulf of Mexico states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, banks, restaurants and fishermen, among others.
This comes on the heels of the news Tuesday that Halliburton, contracted by BP to cement the oil well, had reached a $1.1 settlement with the businesses, citizens and governments impacted by the spill. But Halliburton was a bit player in BP's disaster scenario.
Judge Carl J. Barbier wrote in his ruling, "BP's conduct was reckless, Transocean's conduct was negligent. Halliburton’s conduct was negligent. He held that BP was 67 percent responsible for the spill, [offshore drilling contractor] Transocean 30 percent, and Halliburton 3 percent.
During the trial, the companies all tried to shift the blame.
"BP said at trial that Transocean failed to maintain the drilling rig and Halliburton provided defective cementing services," says Bloomberg. "Transocean and Halliburton pointed their fingers back at BP. BP denied it was grossly negligent while accepting blame for errors that caused the spill. ... Lawyers for Transocean, Halliburton and plaintiffs claimed in the second phase that BP delayed the capping of the well by misrepresenting the size of the spill, as well as prospects for containing it. The spill victims also alleged that BP wasn’t prepared for a deep-water blowout."
The difference between a finding of "negligence" and "recklessness" is significant, possibly exposing BP to claims beyond the 2012 $9.2 billion settlement it reached with most non-governmental plaintiffs. It's still to be determined how much oil was spilled.
Naturally, BP disagrees with the decision and says it will appeal.
It said in a statement, “BP believes that the finding that it was grossly negligent with respect to the accident and that its activities at the Macondo well amounted to willful misconduct is not supported by the evidence at trial. The law is clear that proving gross negligence is a very high bar that was not met in this case.”
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
by Jordan Davidson
Taking action to stop the mercury from rising is a matter of life and death in the U.S., according to a new study published in the journal Science Advances.
By Alisa Opar
For Chinook salmon, the urge to return home and spawn isn't just strong — it's imperative. And for the first time in more than 65 years, at least 23 fish that migrated as juveniles from California's San Joaquin River and into the Pacific Ocean have heeded that call and returned as adults during the annual spring run.
By Jessica Corbett
Dozens of students, parents, teachers and professionals joined a Friday protest organized by Extinction Rebellion that temporarily stalled morning rush-hour traffic in London's southeasten borough of Lewisham to push politicians to more boldly address dangerous air pollution across the city.
Jose A. Bernat Bacete / Moment / Getty Images
By Bridget Shirvell
On a farm in upstate New York, a cheese brand is turning millions of pounds of food scraps into electricity needed to power its on-site businesses. Founded by eight families, each with their own dairy farms, Craigs Creamery doesn't just produce various types of cheddar, mozzarella, Swiss and Muenster cheeses, sold in chunks, slices, shreds and snack bars; they're also committed to becoming a zero-waste operation.
By Jessica A. Knoblauch
Summers in the Midwest are great for outdoor activities like growing your garden or cooling off in one of the area's many lakes and streams. But some waters aren't as clean as they should be.
That's in part because coal companies have long buried toxic waste known as coal ash near many of the Midwest's iconic waterways, including Lake Michigan. Though coal ash dumps can leak harmful chemicals like arsenic and cadmium into nearby waters, regulators have done little to address these toxic sites. As a result, the Midwest is now littered with coal ash dumps, with Illinois containing the most leaking sites in the country.