Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Three BP employees plead not guilty in 2010 spill

NEW ORLEANS — Two BP rig supervisors and a former BP executive pleaded not guilty Wednesday to criminal charges stemming from the deadly Deepwater Horizon rig explosion and the company's response to the massive 2010 spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP well site leaders Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine, along with David Rainey, former BP vice president of exploration for the Gulf, remained free on bond after their arraignments in federal court.

Kaluza and Vidrine are charged with manslaughter in the deaths of 11 rig workers. They are accused of disregarding abnormally high pressure readings that should have been glaring indications of trouble just before the blowout of BP's Macondo well.

Rainey was charged separately with concealing information from Congress about the amount of oil that was leaking from the well. Millions of gallons of crude oil spewed from BP's well for months.

Kaluza professed his innocence on his way into court, making his first public comments since the April 2010 explosion that killed his co-workers.

"I think about the tragedy of the Deepwater Horizon every day," Kaluza told reporters. "But I did not cause this tragedy. I am innocent and I put my trust, reputation and future in the hands of the judge and the jury."

Kaluza and Vidrine's lawyers both accused the Justice Department of using their clients as scapegoats.

A trial for Kaluza and Vidrine is scheduled to start on Feb. 4, while Rainey has a Jan. 28 trial date. Both dates could be postponed given the complexity of the cases.

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