Nov 19 2012
British Oil Giant BP agreed to a $4.5bn settlement with the US government on Thursday – the largest single criminal fine in the country’s history. The settlement was signed over last year’s explosion of the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling unit, owned and run by BP, and the subsequent gush of oil into the ocean and nearby Gulf Coast ecosystems for nearly 90 days.
The settlement includes fines for the largest and most devastating oil spill in US history, as well as a guilty plea to 11 felony counts of misconduct or neglect around the deaths of eleven oil rig workers. Three BP officials face charges of manslaughter and negligence in supervising the pressure tests on the well, while BP’s former vice-president for exploration in the Gulf of Mexico was charged with lying to Congress about the extent of oil spillage.
BP could still face an additional penalties amounting to over $20 billion for environmental damage to the Gulf and restoration costs to waters, coastline and marine life. The spill caused thousands of animal deaths, among them 67 dolphins found in the area affected by the spill, with 35 of them premature or newborn calves.
The Fishing and Tourism industries around the Gulf of Mexico have also suffered greatly, with total economic losses estimated at around $11 billion.
However, Greenpeace senior investigator Mark Floegel criticized the deal saying, it “fails every aspect of the commonly accepted notion of penalty.” Public Citizen’s Tyson Slocum, pointing out that the fine was the equivalent of a fifth of BP’s profits from 2011, joined the criticism calling the settlement “pathetic.”
GUEST: John Hocevar, the Director of Greenpeace USA Oceans Campaign
Visit www.greenpeace.org for more information.