The lead investigator in the government's probe of the Gulf oil disaster said that BP and contractor Halliburton knew about the potential flaws in the oil well months before the spill.
According to media reports, Fred Bartlit Jr. wrote a letter to the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling and said that tests on a cement slurry in February showed instability. Despite both companies having the data, they proceeded to use a similar slurry to stabilize the well on April 19 and 20.
On April 20, the rig exploded, killing 11 workers and causing the worst oil spill in United States history. U.S. Representative Edward Markey (D-Mass.) responded to the letter by calling on the Federal oil spill commission to get full subpoena power and requested that BP CEO Bob Dudley agree to testify before Congress.
"The fact that BP and Halliburton knew this cement job could fail only solidifies their liability and responsibility for this disaster," Markey said in a written statement, quoted by CNN. "This is like building a car when you know the brakes could fail, but you sell the cars anyway."
Early in October, the oil spill commission released a report that said President Barack Obama and his administration failed to act upon or fully inform the public about the worst-case spill estimates, according to The New York Times. The report found that the administration's inaccurate approximations resulted in a slower response effort.