The Interior Department formally cited BP and its two chief contractors on Wednesday for numerous safety and environmental violations in the operation of the doomed Deepwater Horizon well.
The citations, which could lead to millions of dollars in fines, arose from an investigation of the April 2010 explosion that killed 11 workers and led to the worst offshore oil spill in American history. The department and the Coast Guard found in a report issued last month that BP, Transocean and Halliburton had failed to operate the Gulf of Mexico drilling rig in a safe and responsible manner, had heedlessly endangered their workers, had not followed proper well control procedures and had not properly maintained safety equipment, including the blowout preventer.
“The joint investigation clearly revealed the violation of numerous federal regulations designed to protect the integrity of offshore operations,” said Michael R. Bromwich, head of the department’s offshore safety office. “To ensure the safe and environmentally responsible conduct of offshore operations, companies that violate federal regulations must be held accountable.”
The actions against Transocean, which operated the drilling rig, and Halliburton, which performed the well cementing job, are the first time that the government has cited contractors rather than just a well’s principal owner, in this case BP, for safety violations. The government considers all three parties responsible for the disaster, although the degree of liability will be decided in pending legal actions.
The companies have 60 days to appeal the citations.