January 11 , 2011
Contact: Joanne Doroshow
STATEMENT BY JOANNE DOROSHOW, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
IN RESPONSE TO NATIONAL COMMISSION ON THE BP DEEPWATER HORIZON OIL SPILL AND OFFSHORE DRILLING’ FINAL REPORT
While many corporate entities contributed to the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon and its aftermath, its principal cause was a culture of corruption at BP, which for years has put profits over worker safety and concern for the environment. The Deepwater Horizon disaster was hardly the only example of bad behavior by BP (see examples below). CJ&D again calls on Congress to eliminate the $75 million liability cap for offshore oil spills as well as the $1 billion per incident cap on claims against the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. Imposition of financial liability is critical to creating proper economic incentives for BP and all oil companies to allocate proper resources to safety, which history shows they otherwise will not due. BP, in particular, has repeatedly failed to take sufficient precautions to prevent future harm, costing numerous lives and widespread environmental and economic damage. The last thing we should do as a country is subsidize bad behavior by this corporate miscreant.
Examples of BP’s Culture of Corruption:
On March 23, 2005, 15 people died in a horrendous explosion at BP's Texas City, Texas refinery; 170 more were injured. BP ignored numerous warnings that something terrible could happen at this refinery. Since then, the company has continued to be cited for numerous safety and environmental law violations at Texas City and other refineries.
In 2006, there was a 200,000-gallon spill at BP’s Prudhoe Bay Alaska pipeline, the largest ever spill on Alaska's North Slope. An investigative team at ProPublica found “a rash of problems” at this pipeline “that undermined the company’s publicly proclaimed commitment to safe operations.” These include management’s flouting of safety, “neglecting aging equipment,” the harassment of safety-conscious workers and the failure to hold executives accountable. In addition, the pipeline continues to corrode.
There have been major problems at BP’s huge Gulf of Mexico oil rig, Atlantis – a deepwater drilling rig that is much larger than the Deepwater Horizon rig. When one contractor spoke up about safety, he was ignored and his contract was ended.
Nineteen months before the Deepwater Horizon explosion, an oil rig leak almost caused an identical major disaster in the Caspian Sea of Azerbaijan. This is according to diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks and first disclosed in London’s Guardian newspaper. Fortunately, the leak did not ignite so no one was killed but the event was otherwise very similar to what occurred in the Gulf of Mexico.
Just last month, a U.S. Senate found that in order to protect its oil deals, BP pressured the U.K. (and Scotland) to release Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the Libyan national who was convicted of conspiracy to plant the bomb that blew up Pan Am Flight 103 on December 21, 1988 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people. This defied an agreement between the U.S. and U.K. requiring him to serve out his term in a Scottish prison.