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BP Oil Spill Flow Rate Vastly Understated For Weeks, Emails Show

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BP spillEmails that attorneys representing a defendant in the BP oil spill case plan to introduce in February show for the first time that the oil company knew the massive scale of the 2010 blowout in the Gulf of Mexico weeks earlier than previously disclosed.

BP has long maintained that it provided full disclosure to the public and the federal government about its knowledge of the spill’s extent and did so promptly. The emails suggest otherwise.

BP has said in the past that it learned of the spill's full extent months after the April 2010 blowout. But the emails indicate that the company knew almost immediately after the drilling rig exploded, killing 11 workers and injuring 17, that the spill may be extraordinarily large.

BP pleaded guilty in mid-November to more than a dozen felony charges related to the spill, including lying to Congress about the size of the leak, as part of a wide-ranging deal settling the company's corporate criminal liability. Justice Department officials said a probe of individual criminal activity related to the spill is ongoing and may result in more indictments.

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