David Hammer / Eyewitness News
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NEWORLEANS-- Robert Kaluza, the BP rig leader who is charged with manslaughter in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion, broke his silence before his arraignment in federal court in New Orleans.

'I think about the tragedy on the Deepwater Horizon every day,' Kaluza said at a press conference. 'But I didn't cause the tragedy. I am innocent and I put my trust, my reputation and my future in the hands of the judge and jury.'

Kaluza, 62 of Henderson, Nev., has previously pleaded the Fifth to avoid testifying. The government charged him and fellow well leader Donald Vidrine with manslaughter.

The central claim in the government's indictment is that Kaluza and Vidrine failed to properly read a critical test of pressure in the well, more than a mile below the water's surface. They then approved the removal of drilling mud, the substance drillers use to, in part, keep flammable gas from blowing up the well and connecting pipes to the rig above.

Vidrine, 65 of Lafayette, is also appearing in public for the first time. He claimed illness prevented him from testifying in previous hearings but his attorney, Bob Habans, won't disclose Vidrine's illness.

Vidrine was the BP company man on the night shift April 20, 2010. He relieved Kaluza after the fateful negative pressure test had been performed. Kaluza's lawyer Shaun Clarke said his client was in bed by 7:50 p.m., two hours before the explosion.

The indictment alleges that Kaluza and Vidrine both failed to call supervisors on shore in Houston about the confusing test readings, but the investigation record clearly shows that Vidrine did call BP engineer Mark Hafle at 8:52 p.m. and spoke about the pressure readings for about 10 minutes.

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