Quantcast

BP Bashes Oil Spill Victims to Distract From Own Criminal Behavior

Energy

DeSmogBlog

By Farron Cousins

In recent corporate public relations attempts, BP has tried to shift the public’s focus from its corporate wrongdoing and outright criminal behavior to criticizing BP's victims and their legal representatives. According to a privileged, plaintiff’s attorney work document, BP has dumped more than $500 million into PR, attacking “judges, special masters and claimants’ lawyers—trying to change the focus from its tragic track record of ignoring safety and deepwater despair.”

A BP clean up crew works to remove oil from the shores of a Port Fourchon, LA, beach May, 2010. Photo credit: John Moore/ Getty Images, courtesy of Propublica—view their entire
BP Oil Spill Slideshow.

BP CEO Bob Dudley said that, instead of the victims of his corporation's recklessness, the “biggest beneficiaries” in the suit are the plaintiff’s attorneys. According to the document, BP has spent at least $4.5 billion on defense lawyers in 2012, and that number is dispersed through only four lawyers. On average, that’s in the neighborhood of $750 - $2,000 per hour. Which litigators are the “biggest beneficiaries” again?

No matter how much money BP spends on PR, or what sort of rhetoric Bob Dudley spews, it will never erase BP's gross negligence and reputation as a bad actor.

In May and June of 2000, BP’s Grandemouth refinery in Scotland was responsible for three incidents, two involving severe leaks which resulted in large amounts of hydrocarbon pollution into the atmosphere and into River Forth. Criminal charges were brought against BP for two of the three incidents. After pleading guilty, BP was ordered to pay 1 million pounds.

BP’s negligence and disregard for safety was responsible for the Texas City Refinery Explosion that occurred in March, 2005. The explosion resulted in the deaths of 15 workers and injured 180 more. The lower tower that overfilled and exploded was not equipped with the proper warning alert systems. Operators were fatigued and overworked, putting in 12-hour shifts for up to 29 days straight, and the “operator training program was inadequate,” according to the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Safety Investigation Board.  

Also in March 2005, BP settled with the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) for a total of $60 million for emissions violations from its Carson, CA, refinery. Earlier that year, the AQMD filed a complaint against BP claiming “inadequate inspection and maintenance of large above-ground storage tanks, . . . inconsistencies in refinery record-keeping, and numerous air emission releases.”

This is but a small set of BP’s operational shortcomings.

BP’s Texas and Ohio refineries accounted for 97 percent of the refining industry’s OSHA violations, a whopping 760 from 2007 to 2010. BP has even outright admitted to these crimes, that it broke environmental and safety laws and that, if had it abided by those laws, 30 people would still be alive and hundreds would have never been injured. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration determines violations when they can prove a company’s “intentional disregard for the requirements of the [law], or showed plain indifference to employee safety and health.”

BP was responsible for the deaths of 11 rig workers in the Deepwater Horizon disaster of 2010. The company was charged with, and pleaded guilty to, 11 counts of felony manslaughter related to the deaths. But instead of placing those responsible for the explosion in prison, BP was ordered to pay a $4 billion settlement, another troubling sign that if one has the money, he or she can buy their way out of anything.

The system is clearly broken when a company with an endless sea of cash can violate environmental laws, disregard sound operational oversight, and even put people’s lives in danger, but rather than suffer true justice, BP can just cut a fat check and be on its merry way to break another law, or kill another person. The company keeps committing these atrocities because it knows it can get away with them, because it can afford to do so.  

Joshua De Leon contributed to this report.

Visit EcoWatch’s GULF OIL SPILL page for more related news on this topic.

——–

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter


georgeclerk / E+ / Getty Images

By Jennifer Molidor

One million species are at risk of extinction from human activity, warns a recent study by scientists with the United Nations. We need to cut greenhouse gas pollution across all sectors to avoid catastrophic climate change — and we need to do it fast, said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

This research should serve as a rallying cry for polluting industries to make major changes now. Yet the agriculture industry continues to lag behind.

Read More Show Less
Edwin Remsburg / VW Pics / Getty Images

Botswana, home to one third of Africa's elephants, announced Wednesday that it was lifting its ban on the hunting of the large mammals.

"The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism wishes to inform the public that following extensive consultations with all stakeholders, the Government of Botswana has taken a decision to lift the hunting suspension," the government announced in a press release shared on social media.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pxhere

By Richard Denison

Readers of this blog know how concerned EDF is over the Trump EPA's approval of many dozens of new chemicals based on its mere "expectation" that workers across supply chains will always employ personal protective equipment (PPE) just because it is recommended in the manufacturer's non-binding safety data sheet (SDS).

Read More Show Less
De Molen windmill and nuclear power plant cooling tower in Doel, Belgium. Trougnouf / CC BY-SA 4.0

By Grant Smith

From 2009 to 2012, Gregory Jaczko was chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which approves nuclear power plant designs and sets safety standards for plants. But he now says that nuclear power is too dangerous and expensive — and not part of the answer to the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
A lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. Brett Walton / Circle of Blue

By Brett Walton

When Greg Wetherbee sat in front of the microscope recently, he was looking for fragments of metals or coal, particles that might indicate the source of airborne nitrogen pollution in Rocky Mountain National Park. What caught his eye, though, were the plastics.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Gabriele Holtermann Gorden / Pacific Press / LightRocket / Getty Images

In a big victory for animals, Prada has announced that it's ending its use of fur! It joins Coach, Jean Paul Gaultier, Giorgio Armani, Versace, Ralph Lauren, Vivienne Westwood, Michael Kors, Donna Karan and many others PETA has pushed toward a ban.

This is a victory more than a decade in the making. PETA and our international affiliates have crashed Prada's catwalks with anti-fur signs, held eye-catching demonstrations all around the world, and sent the company loads of information about the fur industry. In 2018, actor and animal rights advocate Pamela Anderson sent a letter on PETA's behalf urging Miuccia Prada to commit to leaving fur out of all future collections, and the iconic designer has finally listened.

Read More Show Less
Amer Ghazzal / Barcroft Media / Getty Images

If people in three European countries want to fight the climate crisis, they need to chill out more.

That's the conclusion of a new study from think tank Autonomy, which found that Germany, the UK and Sweden all needed to drastically reduce their workweeks to fight climate change.

"The rapid pace of labour-saving technology brings into focus the possibility of a shorter working week for all, if deployed properly," Autonomy Director Will Stronge said, The Guardian reported. "However, while automation shows that less work is technically possible, the urgent pressures on the environment and on our available carbon budget show that reducing the working week is in fact necessary."

The report found that if the economies of Germany, Sweden and the UK maintain their current levels of carbon intensity and productivity, they would need to switch to a six, 12 and nine hour work week respectively if they wanted keep the rise in global temperatures to the below two degrees Celsius promised by the Paris agreement, The Independent reported.

The study based its conclusions on data from the UN and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) on greenhouse gas emissions per industry in all three countries.

The report comes as the group Momentum called on the UK's Labour Party to endorse a four-day work week.

"We welcome this attempt by Autonomy to grapple with the very real changes society will need to make in order to live within the limits of the planet," Emma Williams of the Four Day Week campaign said in a statement reported by The Independent. "In addition to improved well-being, enhanced gender equality and increased productivity, addressing climate change is another compelling reason we should all be working less."

Supporters of the idea linked it to calls in the U.S. and Europe for a Green New Deal that would decarbonize the economy while promoting equality and well-being.

"This new paper from Autonomy is a thought experiment that should give policymakers, activists and campaigners more ballast to make the case that a Green New Deal is absolutely necessary," Common Wealth think tank Director Mat Lawrence told The Independent. "The link between working time and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions has been proved by a number of studies. Using OECD data and relating it to our carbon budget, Autonomy have taken the step to show what that link means in terms of our working weeks."

Stronge also linked his report to calls for a Green New Deal.

"Becoming a green, sustainable society will require a number of strategies – a shorter working week being just one of them," he said, according to The Guardian. "This paper and the other nascent research in the field should give us plenty of food for thought when we consider how urgent a Green New Deal is and what it should look like."

Amazon Employees for Climate Justice held a press conference after the annual shareholder meeting on May 22. Amazon Employees for Climate Justice

Amazon shareholders voted down an employee-backed resolution calling for more aggressive action on climate change at their annual meeting Wednesday, The Los Angeles Times reported.

Read More Show Less