Former BP America president Lamar McKay recently revealed in court that the company knew about the risk of explosion at the Deepwater Horizon rig well before it took place. Engineers expressed concern as early as 2009 about the possibility of malfunction, but the company charged ahead anyway, resulting in the explosion that spilled roughly four million barrels of oil into the ocean. The spill itself caused untold damage, claimed nearly a dozen lives and, according to testimony, it could have been prevented.

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British Petroleum is in court this week in the US over the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. When asked about the risk of a blowout, McKay testified that, “The blowout was an identified risk, and it was a big risk, yes.” Engineers had pointed out that the metal casing being used might collapse under high pressure, which was detailed in a written report issued internally. Testimony also revealed that a month prior to the explosion, BP lost “well control” after weeks of problems and that the company had been concerned about a blowout in the casing or malfunction in the blowout preventer, two things which ultimately led to the spill.

BP is in court in Louisiana after various suits were brought against the company by the Justice Department, private businesses, individuals and state governments.  A final decision is likely over a year away, but could result in a massive fine for the company and changes in environmental law in the United States. Today, BP’s head of safety at the time of the spill Mark Bly is expected to testify.

Via Grist

Photos by  US Coast Guard, Green Fire Productions and NASA