Judge rules BP's 2009 North Slope oil spill an accident

A federal judge in Anchorage on Tuesday rejected an effort by prosecutors to hold BP criminally negligent for a 2009 pipeline rupture, one of a series of mishaps and disasters that have dogged the company over the past decade.

In ruling that federal prosecutors failed to prove their case, U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline released BP from probation over a 2007 criminal conviction. But he warned the oil giant that it was on notice and had better not make the same mistakes that led to the 2009 spill, when about 15,000 gallons of crude contaminated a frozen wetland on the North Slope.

"It is incumbent upon BP to make sure this does not happen again," he admonished.

Beistline's order followed seven days of hearings — in effect a mini-trial — into allegations that BP violated probation conditions from its conviction in 2007 for violating the Clean Water Act with a 250,000-gallon spill.

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