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

Natural Resources Defense Council

By Emily Deanne

Shower shoes? Check. Extra-long sheets? Yep. Energy efficiency checklist? No worries — we've got you covered there. If you're one of the nation's 12.1 million full-time undergraduate college students, you no doubt have a lot to keep in mind as you head off to school. If you're reading this, climate change is probably one of them, and with one-third of students choosing to live on campus, dorm life can have a big impact on the health of our planet. In fact, the annual energy use of one typical dormitory room can generate as much greenhouse gas pollution as the tailpipe emissions of a car driven more than 156,000 miles.

Read More Show Less
Kokia drynarioides, commonly known as Hawaiian tree cotton, is a critically endangered species of flowering plant that is endemic to the Big Island of Hawaii. David Eickhoff / Wikipedia

By Lorraine Chow

Kokia drynarioides is a small but significant flowering tree endemic to Hawaii's dry forests. Native Hawaiians used its large, scarlet flowers to make lei. Its sap was used as dye for ropes and nets. Its bark was used medicinally to treat thrush.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Frederick Bass / Getty Images

States that invest heavily in renewable energy will generate billions of dollars in health benefits in the next decade instead of spending billions to take care of people getting sick from air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels, according to a new study from MIT and reported on by The Verge.

Read More Show Less
Aerial view of lava flows from the eruption of volcano Kilauea on Hawaii, May 2018. Frizi / iStock / Getty Images

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be gearing up for an eruption after a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater for the first time in recorded history, according to the AP.

Read More Show Less
A couple works in their organic garden. kupicoo / E+ / Getty Images

By Kristin Ohlson

From where I stand inside the South Dakota cornfield I was visiting with entomologist and former USDA scientist Jonathan Lundgren, all the human-inflicted traumas to Earth seem far away. It isn't just that the corn is as high as an elephant's eye — are people singing that song again? — but that the field burgeons and buzzes and chirps with all sorts of other life, too.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A competitor in action during the Drambuie World Ice Golf Championships in Uummannaq, Greenland on April 9, 2001. Michael Steele / Allsport / Getty Images

Greenland is open for business, but it's not for sale, Greenland's foreign minister Ane Lone Bagger told Reuters after hearing that President Donald Trump asked his advisers about the feasibility of buying the world's largest island.

Read More Show Less
AFP / Getty Images / S. Platt

Humanity faced its hottest month in at least 140 years in July, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said on Thursday. The finding confirms similar analysis provided by its EU counterparts.

Read More Show Less
Newly established oil palm plantation in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Rhett A. Butler / Mongabay

By Hans Nicholas Jong

Indonesia's president has made permanent a temporary moratorium on forest-clearing permits for plantations and logging.

It's a policy the government says has proven effective in curtailing deforestation, but whose apparent gains have been criticized by environmental activists as mere "propaganda."

Read More Show Less