BP Engaged in ‘Gross Negligence’ Leading Up to Gulf Oil Spill, Government Claims

Published September 27, 2012

BP engaged in “gross negligence and willful misconduct” that caused the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill, the U.S. Justice Department claims in court papers filed in New Orleans. The federal government filed the papers in early September in preparation for hearings scheduled for January 2013 to determine BP’s civil and criminal liability.

‘Stunningly, Blindingly Botched’

The court documents paint a picture of a company operating with an arrogant mindset, eager to cut corners and circumvent established industry safety standards.

“The behavior, words, and actions of these BP executives would not be tolerated in a middling size company manufacturing dry goods for sale in a suburban mall,” Justice Department attorneys argue in the court documents.

According to the filing, BP failed to abide by proper procedures in conducting a key pressure test prior to the wellhead blowout that caused the spill.

“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 document stated.

Shades of Enron

BP has been a vocal supporter of wind and solar power, including laws requiring Americans to purchase large amounts of electricity from renewable power sources. BP claims it supports wind and solar power mandates because it is committed to environmental protection. Energy analysts, however, say BP, like Enron before it, supports renewable power mandates because it has invested heavily in renewable energy and stands to make a profit off state laws requiring consumers to purchase the expensive energy.

James M. Taylor ([email protected]) is managing editor of Environment & Climate News.