BP’s Negligence “Contributing Cause” of Gulf Oil Disaster

The Deepwater Horizon rig before it sank (photo: Ideum/Flickr)

Two new reports blame a rush to drill for the explosion that led to the Gulf oil disaster that killed 11 workers, thousands of birds, hundreds of endangered sea turtles, and dozens of dolphins.

First, a new federal government report pointing to BP’s corner-cutting as a key factor in the disaster:

A 16-month federal investigation has concluded that BP’s efforts to limit costs on its mile-deep Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico contributed to the disastrous blowout last year that killed 11 workers and sunk the giant rig Deepwater Horizon.

“BP’s cost or time saving decisions without considering contingencies and mitigation were contributing causes of the Macondo blowout,” states the long-awaited report by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement.

The report, based on months of hearings and testimony from rig workers and engineers, skewers BP for dozens of mistakes and a failure to appreciate the risks of drilling and then temporarily abandoning the Macondo well.

And from the Associated Press, new details on information BP may have ignored in its push to complete the ill-fated well:

[I]nterviews and documents obtained by The Associated Press show a BP scientist identified a previously unreported deposit of flammable gas that could have played a role in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, but the oil giant failed to divulge the finding to government investigators for as long as a year.

While engineering experts differ on the extent to which the two-foot-wide swath of gas-bearing sands helped cause the disaster, the finding raises the specter of further legal and financial troubles for BP. It also could raise the stakes in the multibillion-dollar court battle between the companies involved.

“This report confirms what we knew from the first days of the oil disaster when BP was pushing a deliberately and absurdly low estimate of the gusher’s size – that BP has put its own legal liability before the Gulf’s people and wildlife,” said Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “It also demonstrates that Congress must pass comprehensive restoration legislation to make sure BP’s fines and penalties are dedicated to making the Gulf whole.”

Congress has yet to pass any legislation responding to the worst oil disaster in American history:

Sea turtle swims through oily gulf waters, May 2010
  • Not to make offshore oil drilling safer
  • Not to raise the liability caps to ensure that oil companies are held accountable for their mistakes
  • Not to ensure that we restore the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River Delta that were so severely impacted by this disaster.

Take Action

Please take a moment to ask your members of Congress to dedicate BP fines and penalties to restoring the Mississippi River Delta’s wildlife, wetlands and ecosystems.