Articles by Natural Health Author Paul Fassa
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After Destroying the Gulf, BP Finally Gets Seriously Stung
by Paul Fassa
Critics have charged that BP's Gulf cleanup efforts and a massive PR campaign that continues to this day have been aimed more at covering up it's culpability and limiting its financial responsibilities than in actually cleaning up the spill and restoring the health of the gulf. This month, a U.S. judge in New Orleans ruled that BP was guilty of "gross negligence" and "willful misconduct" and responsible for the large majority of the spill - a ruling which could quadruple the amount of civil penalties BP must pay to an estimated $18 Billion.
Veteran natural health author Paul Fassa has been covering the Gulf oil spill from the beginning. Here is his report to The Best Years in Life:
(The Best Years in Life) I covered the BP – Gulf disaster of 2010 with articles submitted to Natural News. More recently I was assigned a topic to cover the current state of affairs in the Gulf and on the shorelines of Louisiana and Northwest Florida. Sea and coastal life remains seriously threatened. I may never trust Gulf shrimp again.
Many environmental experts have extended the damage beyond those areas. The Gulf is the source of the Gulf stream, a warm current of water that goes around the southern tip of Florida and up the East Coast to Long Island, New York, then across the Atlantic to England and nearby European shores.
Whatever may alter the Gulf Steam's current, salinity, and temperature affects the weather where ever it goes. Fortunately, BP has not escaped liability or culpability for their reckless pursuit of deep sea floor oil extraction.
Here Comes the Judge!
After almost two years of reviewing hundreds of documents and hearing from BP and several government environmental and citizens' groups, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier concluded that the London-based oil giant showed a "conscious disregard of known risks" and gross negligence” during the drilling operation and bears most of the responsibility for the blowout.
That may seem obvious to most of us, but the legal technicalities of “conscious disregard of known risks” and “gross negligence” puts BP into a different category, one that may cost them more than they've spent for their misdeeds and more than they had ever intended to spend.
Another $18 billion could be tacked onto the $4 billion BP has agreed to pay in criminal fines and penalties and the whopping $27 billion they claim to have spent on clean-up and compensation to fisheries and other businesses harmed by the surging three month tidal wave of toxic crude oil.
That $27 billion for clean-up has a caveat almost as big as the area BP polluted in 2010, which still shows an ecological after shock that may never fully recover. Despite advice from some officials in the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and other experts who offered proven non-toxic effective oil spill remedies, BP stubbornly refused them all and managed to get away with using Corexit.
Corexit is so inefficient and toxic that it was banned for use in the seas around the United Kingdom, BP's home base, and other areas around Europe. Yet they used it to hide the oil by sinking it rather then chemically breaking it down and dispersing it into relatively harmless components.
What does this have to do with the price of their cleanup? Both the manufacturer of Corexit and BP during that time, 2010, had a few senior executive officers holding chair positions in both companies. Buying Corexit financially benefited both BP and Corexit by offloading warehouse stored Corexit, banned from use in several regions, to profit both companies and the board chairmen who straddled both.
One environmentalist observed that using Corexit was an incestuous financial affair because essentially BP bought Corexit from BP! So only a complete independent audit could disclose how much actual cost was endured by BP executives to minimize losses and preserve the stock value while worsening an already bad situation.
It was a financial win-win for those corporate heads who straddled both companies. And it resulted in greater toxicity and pollution by submerging crude oil slicks to lower ocean depths and creating toxic gases into the area's atmosphere.
Judge Barbier's August 2014 decision was that BP made "profit-driven decisions" during the drilling that led to the blowout. "These instances of negligence, taken together, evince an extreme deviation from the standard of care and a conscious disregard of known risks," Babier wrote in his 153 page decision.
His ruling concluded that BP bore 67 percent of the responsibility, Swiss-based drilling rig owner Transocean Ltd. 30 percent, and Houston-based cement contractor (the well housing) Halliburton Energy Services 3 percent.
Now BP is vulnerable to higher fines under the federal Clean Water Act. Normally a polluter can be forced to pay a maximum of $1,100 in civil fines per barrel of spilled oil, and up to $4,300 per barrel if the company is found grossly negligent.
Judge Barbier found BP grossly negligent, so that $4300 per barrel fine, using the government's estimate of 4.2 million barrels, could add another $18 billion in fines. Yet another set of penalties under the federal Oil Pollution Act of 1990 could cost BP more than $10 billion added to the potential $18 billion. Each barrel contains 42 gallons of crude oil.
BP has vowed to appeal, claiming the “gross negligence” accusation is inaccurate and the spill amount should be 2.45 million barrels for calculating any Clean Water Act penalties. Judge Barbier plans to decide exact fine amounts in January of 2015.
Attorney General Eric Holder supports Barbier's ruling, commenting that this ruling "will ensure that the company is held fully accountable for its recklessness" and "serve as a strong deterrent to anyone tempted to sacrifice safety and the environment in the pursuit of profit."
During the 2010 crisis, rumor has it a BP executive had arrogantly included the sarcastic comment “bye-bye fishies” in an email. Maybe now if all the potential fines stick, we can say “bye-bye stock values” to BP.
About the author:
Paul Fassa started looking into natural health to overcome his unhealthy lifestyle. Then he developed more interest as he researched his articles for Natural News and Align Life.
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