The Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion on April 20th, 2010 was the most catastrophic incident in offshore history. The incident caused British Petroleum, otherwise known as “BP” to be fined $4.5 billion dollars for the deaths of several crewmembers. Unfortunately, this is one of many events in BP’s troubling history. In fact, the giant oil conglomerate has been responsible for some of the largest environmental disasters of the last decade.
In 2004, there was a refinery explosion that killed several people and injured many more. A year later, on March 23, 2005, BP was responsible for another enormous explosion at BP's refinery in Texas City, Texas, which killed 15 people and injured 170 workers. Investigations were conducted determining that a warning system had been disabled due to BP's failure to follow its own safety regulations. Ultimately, the company pled guilty to criminal felony claims and was fined $50 million by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and faced countless lawsuits. It is estimated that BP paid approximately $1.6 billion to compensate victims. The two BP refinery explosions account for 20 of the 29 deaths at U.S. refineries from 2005 to 2008.
In 2006, BP was forced to shut down operations in Prudhoe Bay after inspecting a pipeline that was severely corroded causing an oil spill despite being warned to check the pipeline in 2002. The first leak caused 200,000 gallons of crude oil to be spilled into the tundra. Once again, BP was fined $12 million for a violation of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.
After the oil spill in Prudhoe Bay, BP America President Robert Malone told Fortune Magazine that while "visiting facilities across the country and talking to employees and management...[one could not] draw a systemic problem in BP America. What I've seen is refineries and facilities and plants that are operating to the highest level of safety and integrity standards."
Despite BP's insistence that it follows high safety standards, in 2008 and 2009, BP had more issues with 3 oil pipelines in Alaska that were ruptured, clogged or could have caused serious explosions. BP settled with the U.S. Department of Justice for $300 million after it was charged with manipulating the price of propane.
BP's frequent safety violations have not gone unnoticed by congress. In January 14, 2010, only a couple of months prior to the Deepwater Horizon explosion, the Congressional Committee on Energy and Commerce sent a letter to BP President John Minge outlining its concerns with BP's poor safety record.
Despite having caused the greatest oil spill in history, it appears that BP has learned nothing. On July 16, 2011, it was reported once again that one of BP’s pipelines ruptured in Lisburne field and leaked approximately 2,100 to 4,200 gallons of oil into the tundra. Most recently, on June 25, 2012, an explosion occurred during maintenance of BP’s Pinon natural compressor station in Western Colorado killing one worker and injuring two others.
Corporations, like BP, are only interested in profits, as opposed to the safety of its operations. The lawyers at Pierce Chapman, PLLC have handled cases against BP and other oil and gas companies. For more information regarding Jones Act and Maritime cases, please contact the experienced lawyers at Pierce Chapman, PLLC for a free evaluation.