BP Ruling: Largest Oil Spill Due To ‘Gross Negligence’

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier said BP committed a series of negligent acts.

Fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon April 21, 2010. Photo credit: U.S. Coast Guard


The largest oil spill in American history was the result of “gross negligence” on the part of BP. That’s the ruling today from a federal judge in New Orleans.

It comes more than four years after the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion that killed 11 workers and poured millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

The ruling of misconduct could quadruple the civil penalties BP must pay to the federal government.

In his 152-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier said BP committed a series of negligent acts. Those acts include pumping cement into the Macondo well without a successful stability test. 

Judge Barbier ruling that BP was “reckless” makes the company subject to larger penalties under the Clean Water Act. 

But the final amount won’t be known until the court rules on how much oil was spilled, and whether BP should pay as much as $4,300 a barrel for misconduct. That could bring the total to almost $18 billion. 

BP has already paid $70 billion in various spill-related expenses, along with civil and criminal penalties.

In a written response to today’s ruling, BP says the evidence of what happened at the Macondo well did not amount to willful misconduct, and it intends to file an appeal with the Fifth Circuit. 


David Pitman

David Pitman

Host, Morning Edition

Hi there. I’m glad you found me. Let me take a moment to answer some of the questions you might have about me and my job. I have worked as Morning Edition Host and reporter at News 88.7 since August of 2009. Previously, I hosted Morning Edition at WMFE in...

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