Manslaughter charges were dropped Wednesday against the two BP supervisors onboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010 and killed 11 workers. Federal prosecutors determined they couldn't meet the legal threshold to convict those individuals, according to Ars Technica. The development, which was suggested by the prosecutors and agreed to by a judge, means that there will be no prison time related to the oil disaster.
Instead of criminal charges, one of the supervisors, Donald Vidrine, pleaded guilty Wednesday to violating the Clean Water Act, which is a misdemeanor that generally results in probation and up to 100 hours of community service. The other supervisor, Robert Kaluza, who had faced manslaughter charges for all of the 11 workers killed, is scheduled to be tried Feb. 16, 2016, on the same misdemeanor charge Vidrine pleaded guilty to, the Associated Press reported.
Those manslaughter charges were personally announced in 2012 by former Attorney General Eric Holder. The company that was in charge of the overall operations, formally named British Petroleum, has agreed to record-setting legal settlements. The company struck a deal with the Justice Department in October to pay $20 billion in penalties for the oil spill.
The 2010 explosion has been called the nation’s worst offshore environmental catastrophe. After the explosion, oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico for nearly three months before the leak was able to be clogged. More than 3 million barrels of crude oil soaked beaches and wetlands across the Gulf coast from Texas to Florida, impacting wildlife and local economies.
Even five years later, the impacts are still being felt in the region. There is still oil at the bottom of the ocean floor, and environmentalists have expressed concern that they aren’t sure exactly what the long term impacts on the area will be. Marine life continues to be affected and chemical residue from the spill continues to wash ashore.