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Gulf oil spill: Top BP official aboard oil rig that exploded might refuse to speak at hearing

A top BP official aboard the oil rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in April was expected to refuse to speak at a federal hearing Tuesday.

Robert Kaluza, BP’s “company man,” a representative of the oil company’s interests on the rig, on Monday afternoon was said to be invoking his Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate himself, investigators said, but noted that he could change his mind by the time he is set to testify Tuesday morning.

On Monday, Wyman Wheeler, an employee of rig owner Transocean, was said to be absent because of an illness. Tyrone Benton, who works for Oceaneering, which makes robot submarines, did not show up Monday afternoon, and no excuse was announced.

The no-shows follow other reported illnesses and refusals to testify by invoking the Fifth Amendment during hearings in May. The probe is being led by the U.S. Coast Guard and an arm of the U.S. Department of Interior, and is set to have hearings throughout the week in Kenner, a suburb of New Orleans.

-- Rong-Gong Lin II in Kenner, La.
 
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