The worst US oil spill in decades reached into precious shoreline habitat along the Gulf Coast as documents emerged showing British Petroleum downplayed the possibility of a catastrophic accident. In a plan filed with the federal Minerals Management Service, BP conceded a spill would impact beaches, wildlife refuges, and wilderness areas, but argued that "due to the distance to shore (48 miles) and the response capabilities that would be implemented, no significant adverse impacts are expected."
"The point is, if you're going to be drilling in 5,000 feet of water for oil, you should have the ability to control what you're doing," said a Mississippi-based environmental lawyer, who added nothing in the report suggested BP addressed the technology required to control a spill at that depth. Many of the more than two dozen lawsuits filed claim the explosion was caused when workers for oil services contractor Halliburton improperly capped the well. Halliburton denied it.