BP accused of gross negligence

Oil company facing civil damages of up to $21 billion for oil spill

The U.S. Justice Department has accused oil giant BP of “gross negligence and willful misconduct” regarding 2010’s disastrous Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

New court filings reveal the strongest stance the United States has taken since BP’s offshore oil-rig exploded and pumped 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over 87 consecutive days, according to Reuters. The documents pinpoint errors made by BP and Swiss company Transocean Ltd, which owned the rig, during a key pressure test.

The U.S. government and BP have been negotiating to settle civil and criminal liability, though it is unclear how close the two sides are on an agreement. If BP is found guilty of gross negligence in court, civil damages would quadruple to $21 billion under the Clean Water Act. Barring an out-of-court settlement, the case is set for trial in New Orleans in January of next year.

“That such a simple, yet fundamental and safety-critical test could have been so stunningly, blindingly botched in so many ways, by so many people, demonstrates gross negligence,” the government’s filing reads.