BP Disaster Crime

BP won’t have to admit it’s a felon

February 13, 2012

BP, owner of the “Deepwater Horizon” oil platform that exploded April 20, 2010, killing 11 workers and spewing 205.8 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, won a major ruling in the trial to determine its liability for the damage caused by the three-month long undersea gusher.

The plaintiffs in the case wanted to introduce evidence regarding prior incidents when BP’s safety processes failed, including

  • 2005 Texas City refinery explosion that killed 15 people and injured 80 others;
  • 2006 rupture of a corroded pipeline at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, that released more than 200,000 gallons of oil into the ocean; and
  • a series of accidents in 2000 at a Grangemouth, Scotland, petrochemical facility.

In both these accidents, the British oil giant pled guilty to felony violations of the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, respectively, and paid fines of $50 million and $20 million.

Federal Carl Barbier of New Orleans decided that the prior accidents, none of which involved an offshore oil platform, were too dissimilar to the Deepwater Horizon spill to admit them in evidence.

Read ruling.

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