BP accused of risking safety for profits on first day of Gulf oil spill trial

  • British Petroleum was accused of putting profits before safety as the first day of a trial in New Orleans over liability for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill opened on Monday.

    The accusation came from the lawyer acting on behalf plaintiffs' steering committee, which represents thousands of businesses and individuals.

    The trial could result in BP being hit with a fine of up to $17.6 billion, the biggest civil fine in history.

    In November, BP agreed to pay $4.5 billion to settle criminal charges relating to the spill.

    It also paid $7.8 billion as part of a settlement to people and businesses affected.

    The non-jury trial will take place in two phases in New Orleans.

    The first will focus on the cause of the April 20, 2010 explosion that killed 11 men and released an estimated 4 million barrels of oil into the Gulf over 84 days.

    The first witnesses will be heard later today.

    The second part of the trial, set to begin in early fall, will set out to find out how much oil was leaked, which will determine how much BP owes in civil fines.

    According to analysts, the trial could last for months though the risks for BP are great and may force the film to reach a settlement.

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