November 29, 2012 9:47:48 AM
NEW ORLEANS -- A BP rig supervisor said Wednesday that he is innocent of manslaughter in the deaths of 11 workers in the 2010 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig that started the spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
"I think about the tragedy of the Deepwater Horizon every day," Robert Kaluza told reporters just before his arraignment. "But I did not cause this tragedy. I am innocent and I put my trust, reputation and future in the hands of the judge and the jury."
Kaluza and Donald Vidrine, both BP well site leaders, were indicted this month on manslaughter charges. The federal indictment accuses them of disregarding abnormal high-pressure readings that should have been clear indications of trouble just before the explosion.
Kaluza's attorney, Shaun Clarke, said his client is a scapegoat.
"Bob and Don did their jobs," Clarke said. "They did them correctly and they did them in accordance with their training."
BP announced earlier this month that it will plead guilty to manslaughter, obstruction of Congress and other charges and pay a record $4.5 billion in penalties to resolve a Justice Department probe of the disaster.
Attorneys for BP and the Justice Department are scheduled to meet Dec. 11 with a federal judge to discuss pleading guilty.
The Deepwater Horizon oil rig, owned by Transocean Ltd. but operated on behalf of BP, was drilling in the Gulf of Mexico off the Louisiana coast on April 20, 2010, when it was rocked by an explosion.
The bodies of 11 workers were never recovered.
Former BP executive David Rainey was charged separately with concealing information from Congress about the amount of oil that was leaking from the well. Millions of gallons of crude oil spewed from BP's well for months.