NEW ORLEANS (CN) - A newly consolidated RICO class action claims BP's "cocksure behavior," its history of safety violations, disregard for federal regulations and failure to inspect and maintain equipment all contributed to the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon. The class claims that BP conducted itself with an "underlying 'unconscious mind,'" and that its practice of putting profit before safety created the catastrophe.
The federal complaint adds that the relative newness of offshore drilling, the difficult geography of the Macondo well site, and the fact that BP was drilling at depths that exceeded its federal permit also contributed to the disaster.
The class claims the oil giant gambled with worker and environmental safety by cutting corners, misrepresenting intentions, using shoddy material and failing to run crucial safety inspections.
Ultimately, all those factors combined with the No. 1 cause of the disaster: that for BP, profit came before safety, according to the 91-page complaint.
The class claims BP was behind schedule and was spending $1 million a day to keep drilling the difficult Macondo well when the Deepwater Horizon exploded.
"Despite this history of catastrophes and close calls, BP has been chronically unable or unwilling to learn from its many mistakes or to give up its regular way of doing business," the complaint states. "The company's dismal safety record and disregard for prudent risk management are the results of a corporate safety culture that has been repeatedly called into question by government regulators."
The class action, released Monday, was consolidated under U.S. District Judge Carl J. Barbier's court as part of the oil spill multidistrict litigation. More than 300 oil spill-related lawsuits pending in Barbier's court are to be divided and consolidated into "bundles," depending on their causes of action.
On April 20, 2010, BP workers aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig lost control of the subsea well they had almost completed. When highly pressurized hydrocarbons leaked into the well, the vessel's emergency equipment failed to stop the oil and gas from blowing out of the well, which led to explosions and a fire on the Deepwater Horizon, and ultimately to the sinking of the vessel. Eleven people died and gas and oil gushed into the water unchecked for 12 weeks.
"Meanwhile, BP downplayed the severity of the spill and was, contrary to their prior claims to regulators, unprepared for the massive cleanup effort required," according to the complaint.
On May 21, President Obama established the National Oil Spill Commission on the BP Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, to examine facts and circumstances surrounding the explosion.
"A key finding of the commission was that BP repeatedly placed profits over safety, implementing procedures that greatly increased risk, primarily in order to avoid the expense of delay," according to the complaint.
According to the chairman of the investigation, "All the evidence of BP's misguided priorities and imprudent decisions regarding the Macondo well and the Deepwater Horizon described above is part of a pattern of cocksure behavior -a 'culture of complacency,'" according to the complaint.
Deepwater offshore drilling is an "immensely complex, technical process, and a relatively new one that has only developed over the last five years," the complaint states.