Macondo Well Supervisor Cleared of Charges

File image courtesy USCG

By MarEx 2016-02-26 20:06:15

BP drilling supervisor Robert Kaluza has been found not guilty of Clean Water Act negligence charges related to his actions prior to the blowout on the Deepwater Horizon rig in 2010.

The jury reportedly took no more than an hour to deliberate and to reach its verdict. The trial was the last criminal proceeding related to the Macondo spill.

Previous charges of manslaughter against Mr. Kaluza and coworker Donald Vidrine were dropped after unsuccessful prosecutions of more senior BP executives. Vidrine pled guilty to negligence charges related to the spill, and faces sentencing in April.

The government had alleged that Kaluza and Vidrine ignored “multiple indications that the [Macondo] well was not secure” and had authorized subsequent operations which allegedly caused the spill and blowout.

Defense attorney Shaun Clarke told jurors last week that Kaluza had been temporarily filling in at the time, had left the decision to the more experienced Vidrine, and that the primary reason for the spill was the failure of a blowout preventer which had not been maintained for years beyond its standard service interval.

The rig fire and oil spill in April 2010 resulted in 11 deaths, the burning and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon, the largest oil spill in U.S. history and total economic damages yet to be determined. BP has set aside $55 billion for compensation related to the spill. BP and Transocean pled guilty to charges of Clean Water Act violations; BP also pled guilty to manslaughter and obstruction of Congress, and reached a final settlement of $18 billion with the EPA for violations and damages related to the spill.