The Latest: Former rig BP supervisor found not guilty

AP News
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Posted: Feb 25, 2016 7:43 PM

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Latest on the trial of a former BP engineer, Robert Kaluza, charged with a violation of the federal Clean Water Act in connection with the 2010 Gulf oil spill (all times local):

6:40 p.m.

A jury has found former BP rig supervisor Robert Kaluza not guilty of a misdemeanor pollution charge arising from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico rig explosion and oil spill.

Kaluza was tried on a single charge of violating the federal Clean Water Act.

Prosecutors said Kaluza and Donald Vidrine, another rig supervisor, botched a "negative pressure test" and missed clear signs of trouble before an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig.

The April 2010 blast caused millions of gallons of oil to spew from the Gulf floor for weeks.

Kaluza and Vidrine once faced manslaughter charges in connection with the deaths of 11 workers on the rig. But federal prosecutors later backed away from those charges. Vidrine pleaded guilty to the Clean Water Act misdemeanor.

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4:40 p.m.

The case of a former BP engineer accused of negligence that contributed to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill is now in the hands of a federal jury.

Robert Kaluza is charged with a single count of violating the federal Clean Water Act. Prosecutors say he failed to act when a crucial pressure test showed signs of trouble hours ahead of the April 20, 2010, explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon offshore rig.

Defense attorneys argued other rig workers with 97 years of combined experience in drilling agreed also discounted the results of the test, and that Kaluza's watch had ended when decisions to go ahead with the rig's operations were made.

Prosecutors say there is no dispute that others were negligent but that Kaluza should be held accountable.

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1:30 p.m.

Robert Kaluza's lawyer has begun his final argument to jurors in the former BP engineer's trial arising from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Prosecutors say Kaluza and his former co-defendant, Donald Vidrine, botched a crucial pressure test that signaled trouble aboard the doomed Deepwater Horizon offshore rig hours before it exploded.

Defense lawyer Shaun Clarke said Vidrine, who has pleaded guilty in the case, was the rig leader who declared the test a success — after Kaluza's watch aboard the rig had ended. Clarke said other rig workers with 97 years of combined experience in drilling agreed with Vidrine.

Kaluza is on trial for a violation of the federal Clean Water Act. Vidrine pleaded guilty to the same charge last year. A jury could begin deliberations Thursday afternoon.

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12:30 p.m.

Jurors saw images of the flaming, badly damaged Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig and the resulting oil-fouled coast as closing arguments began in the criminal trial of former BP engineer Robert Kaluza.

Kaluza is charged with a violation of the federal Clean Water Act in connection with the April 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Jury deliberations on the single count were likely to begin by Thursday evening after final arguments by prosecutors and the defense.

The April 2010 blast at the Deepwater Horizon site killed 11 workers and sent millions of gallons of oil spewing from the Gulf floor for weeks. Prosecutors say Kaluza was negligent in his reading of a critical pressure test. His negligence, they say, was one cause of the rig explosion.

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9 a.m.

Closing arguments are set to begin Thursday in the trial of a former BP engineer facing a federal pollution charge stemming from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Robert Kaluza's trial began last week. He faces a single charge of violating the Clean Water Act. Prosecutors say he and a fellow rig supervisor, Donald Vidrine, botched a pressure test and missed clear signs of trouble before the explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig.

The April 2010 blast sent millions of gallons of oil spewing from the Gulf floor for weeks.

Kaluza and Vidrine once faced manslaughter charges in connection with the deaths of 11 workers on the rig. But federal prosecutors later backed away from those charges. Vidrine pleaded guilty to the Clean Water Act violation.