Despite the fact that the federal government issued citations against BP that said it failed to protect safety and the environment in regards to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill disaster (trial date February 2012), they are allowing the company to bid for new oil drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico. Michael Bromwich, the head of the new Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, told reporters that the administration felt it was not appropriate to “administer the death penalty” based on one incident.
It appears that the government has forgotten that this is not BP’s first accident where there was a considerable loss of life due to their lax safety protocols. In 2005 there was an explosion at BP’s Texas City, Texas refinery where 15 workers were killed and 170 others were injured.http://www.oceanpowermagazine.net/2011/10/17/feds-allow-bp-to-bid-on-gulf-oil-leases-despite-violations-and-obstruction/
BP was charged in the Texas City Refinery explosion case with criminal violations of federal environmental laws, and has been subject to lawsuits from the victims’ families. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration slapped BP with a then-record fine for hundreds of safety violations, and subsequently imposed an even larger fine after claiming that BP had failed to implement safety improvements following the disaster. Sound familiar?
Given that BP failed to implement safety improvements after 15 of its workers died at Texas City and failed to follow proper safety procedures in drilling the Macondo well in the Deepwater Horizon case, what makes Bromwhich think they will ”get religion” in regards to safety now?
Given the loss of life and environmental damage that this one company has wreaked on the Gulf coast of the United States, you would think that BP would at least try to become good corporate citizens. Instead, Scientists testified before the House Natural Resources Committee last week that their efforts to research the effects of the Deepwater Horizon spill on the fish population in the Gulf is purposely being hampered by BP, who is making it impossible for them to obtain samples of oil comparable to that spilled. Although having promised to provide the oil samples so necessary to this research, BP has yet to send them seven months later.
BP fought in court for years to limit the fines to be paid in the Texas City case and are painfully slow in paying damages to the fishermen and others who’s livelihoods were destroyed by the Deewater Horizon spill. They have also been accused of denying some claims despite them being legitimate.
Surely there are enough oil companies with satisfactory safety records interested in drilling in the Gulf of Mexico to allow the administration to be seen politically as “oil industry friendly” without giving a company like BP another chance to destroy life and the environment.