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BP trial over Deepwater Horizon oil spill in Gulf of Mexico under way

The civil trial over the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico will determine whether BP was 'negligent' or 'grossly negligent.'

Bp banned us contracts 28 11 2012Enlarge
BP has been banned from winning new contracts with the US government, which says the oil company showed a "lack of business integrity" over the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. (Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images)

The first witness in the trial over the worst oil spill in US history will take the stand Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.

Government, businesses and individuals are suing BP over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster that killed 11 workers and spewed four million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

On Monday, US Justice Department attorney Mike Underhill opened the government's case against BP by accusing the British company of greed.

"The evidence will show that BP put profits before people, profits before safety and profits before the environment," Underhill said, according to DW.

"Reckless actions were tolerated, sometimes encouraged by BP to squeeze every dollar.

"Every fork in the road, BP chose time and money over safety in the operation of what (one rig worker) called the 'well from hell.'"

The trial before Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans will determine whether BP and its contractors were “negligent” or “grossly negligent.”

The latter ruling could see BP fined up to $17.6 billion under the Clean Water Act, the New York Times reported.

A finding of negligence would result in a less-severe penalty of about $4 billion.

Fordham University law professor Howard Erichson told Sky News the case against BP was “one of the most complex and massive disputes ever faced by the courts.”

Many observers believe the parties will reach a settlement before the court delivers its verdict.

According to Reuters, BP has already spent or committed $37 billion on “cleanup, restoration, payouts, settlements and fines” stemming from the disaster.

More from GlobalPost: BP banned from new contracts with US government
 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/130226/bp-trial-deepwater-horizon-gulf-of-mexico-oil-spill