Apparently BP doesn’t mind paying fines. Hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth, to be precise.
Last week in Anchorage, the Alaskan subsidiary of British-based BP pled guilty to violating the Clean Water Act, a federal environmental crime, for its failure to prevent a 200,000-gallon oil spill in March of 2006 and agreed to pay $20 million in fines. The spill, in the Alaskan region known as the North Slope, was the area’s largest in history.
According to an article on CBS News, “For years, the company denied allegations that a culture of cost-cutting was hurting the quality of maintenance on the network of steel pipes at the 30-year-old Alaska field. But after the spill in March, federal prosecutors said millions of company documents and interviews with scores of North Slope employees told a different story.”
Prosecutors allege the company saved $9 million by intentionally not maintaining or inspecting their pipelines.
But almost sadder than the spill itself is the news that the $20 million dollar sentence was a mere drop in the bucket compared to the $353 million the organization agreed to shell out over a separate incident.
It seems BP accepted blame for the manipulation of Midwestern energy markets and the explosion of a refinery in Texas that killed 15 people.
For a company with a 2006 adjusted net profit of $22 billion, making restitutions in the hundreds of millions seems hardly a deterrent. Perhaps we need a stricter policy to ensure safe and thorough practices, like, say… You leak 200,000 gallons of oil due to negligence, and we’re shutting you down.
That’s probably not the answer, but it might cause other oil companies to step up to the plate. After all, BP’s not the only one spilling and paying.
The most chilling part of what occurred on November 7th in the San Francisco Bay is not so much the accident itself human error is inevitable to a certain degree but the slow response to the accident that, according to an article on abc.com, will result in most of the 58,000 gallons of spilled oil being absorbed into the ecosystem. Shouldn’t previous oil catastrophes (Exxon Valdez, anyone?) have taught us to treat each of these as worst case scenarios? Must we wait for the inevitable before putting into place a real, actionable plan?
While the Coast Guard maintains that their response was immediate 30 minutes after the distress call – they did acknowledge some “miscommunication” with local officials, but said this didn’t interfere with relief efforts. However, the article points out that the much-needed oil-skimming vehicles did not show up until 90 minutes after the call, allowing many more thousands of gallons of oil to do their damage.
Continue Reading / See Additional Photos
Falling far too quickly on the heels of the recent San Francisco Bay catastrophe, an oil spill in the Yellow Sea is the worst in South Korea’s history and threatens to be the worst environmental disaster since the war that split the country in two Continue Reading / See Additional Photos
While the Exxon Valdez disaster is certainly the most well known oil spill in U.S. history, it’s not the biggest. Not by a long shot. Unfortunately. In 1950, Newtown Creek – a New York city waterway that separates Brooklyn and Queens – was unknowingly polluted after an underground explosion leaked oil from refinery tanks owned by Standard Oil (now Exxon Mobil) into the water and nearby soil. The damage went unnoticed for twenty-eight years until a Coast Guard helicopter noticed a plume that led to the discovery of huge pool of oil at the bottom of the creek. At the time, the amount of the spill was estimated at 17 million gallons. Cleanup began in 1979 and continues to this day – a far less effective and less immediate effort than was awarded the Exxon Valdez’s spill of 11 million gallons.
A new report from the Environmental Protection Agency now estimates the amount of oil spilled in Newton to be around 30 million gallons, nearly three times the amount in the Valdez disaster.
Continue Reading / See Additional Photos