Published on December 8, 2008
Section Green Report / Media
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.