A judge has agreed to a motion by federal prosecutors to drop the remaining manslaughter charges against two supervisors aboard BP’s Deepwater Horizon when it exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010 and killed 11 workers.
Rig supervisor Donald Vidrine and Robert Kaluza, another supervisor, had faced 11 manslaughter counts.
A statement from the U.S. Department of Justice says it dropped the felony charges “because circumstances surrounding the case have changed since it was originally charged, and after a careful review the department determined it can no longer meet the legal standard for instituting the involuntary manslaughter charges.”
Vidrine has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of violating the Clean Air Act. It’s recommended he receive 10 months of probation and 100 hours of community service when he’s sentenced. Kaluza has decided to stand trial on a similar charge.
The near-completion in the cases of Vidrine and Kaluza means it’s likely nobody will go to prison for the explosion that resulted in the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.
The federal government had filed charges against others in connection with the BP disaster.
BP’s former vice president of exploration for the Gulf, David Rainey, was acquitted in June of trying to cover up the severity of the spill.
Engineer Kurt Mix has won a new trial after being convicted of obstruction charges in connection with allegations he destroyed text messages having to do with the spill.
Anthony Badalamenti, formerly an engineer at BP partner Halliburton, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of destroying evidence. He was sentenced to a year of probation.
While prosecution of individuals for the explosion, spill and deaths hasn’t resulted in prison time, the federal government did get BP to agree to plead guilty to 11 counts of felony manslaughter, obstruction of Congress and environmental crimes, and to pay a $4 billion fine. BP also agreed to pay $20 billion to resolve federal and state claims for economic and environmental damages.