LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3) – A Henderson man is one of two BP supervisors facing indictment over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster that killed 11 people and caused the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history.
Robert M. Kaluza, 62, of Henderson, along with Donald J. Vidrine, 65, of Lafayette, La. – the highest-ranking BP supervisors onboard the Deepwater Horizon on April 20, 2010 – are alleged to have engaged in negligent and grossly negligent conduct in a 23-count indictment charging violations of the federal involuntary manslaughter and seaman’s manslaughter statutes and the Clean Water Act, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Justice.
BP Exploration and Production Inc. agreed to plead guilty to felony manslaughter, environmental crimes and obstruction of Congress and pay a record $4 billion in criminal fines and penalties for its conduct leading to the Deepwater Horizon disaster, Attorney General Eric Holder announced today.
The 14-count information, filed today in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Louisiana, charges BP with 11 counts of felony manslaughter, one count of felony obstruction of Congress, and violations of the Clean Water and Migratory Bird Treaty Acts.
BP has signed a guilty plea agreement with the government, also filed today, admitting to its criminal conduct. As part of its guilty plea, BP has agreed, subject to the Court’s approval, to pay $4 billion in criminal fines and penalties – the largest criminal resolution in United States history.
Kaluza and Vidrine each are charged with 11 felony counts of seaman’s manslaughter, 11 felony counts of involuntary manslaughter and one violation of the Clean Water Act.
If convicted, Kaluza and Vidrine each face a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison on each seaman’s manslaughter count, up to eight years in prison on each involuntary manslaughter count, and up to a year in prison on the Clean Water Act count.
"Bob was not an executive or high-level BP official. He was a dedicated rig worker who mourns his fallen co-workers every day," Kaluza attorneys Shaun Clarke and David Gerger said in a statement to The Associated Press. "No one should take any satisfaction in this indictment of an innocent man. This is not justice."
According to court documents, on April 20, 2010, while stationed at the Macondo well site in the Gulf of Mexico, the Deepwater Horizon rig experienced an uncontrolled blowout and related explosions.
In agreeing to plead guilty, according to the release, BP has admitted that the two highest-ranking BP supervisors onboard the Deepwater Horizon, known as BP’s “Well Site Leaders” or “company men,” negligently caused the deaths of 11 men and the resulting oil spill.
The information details that, on the evening of April 20, the two supervisors, Kaluza and Vidrine, observed clear indications that the Macondo well was not secure and that oil and gas were flowing into the well. Despite this, BP’s well site leaders chose not to take obvious and appropriate steps to prevent the blowout. As a result of their conduct, control of the Macondo well was lost, resulting in catastrophe.
David I. Rainey, 58, of Houston – a former BP executive who served as a Deputy Incident Commander and BP’s second-highest ranking representative at Unified Command during the spill response – is charged with obstruction of Congress and making false statements to law enforcement officials.
A grand jury in the Eastern District of Louisiana returned the indictments against Kaluza, Vidrine and Rainey, which were unsealed today.