For those of you young enough to remember the expression, "Star of Stage, Screen and Radio", it's the moniker conveyed upon those in public view who seemed to be here, there and everywhere, forever the focus of the media's eye.
In perverse manner the same now applies to BP, currently viewed as responsible for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill which President Obama has categorized as a "massive and potentially unprecedented catastrophe." It has already claimed eleven lives, destroying the livelihood of thousands and thousands, and causing incalculable environmental damage.
"BP is responsible for this leak and will be paying the bill" Obama made clear. According to Environmental Protection Federal Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, who flew over the Gulf oil spill Saturday, "it's like all five of the Great Lakes and the Great Lakes are oil sheen."
These past years BP has been the central player in a roster of disturbing and often lethal oil related catastrophes and dubious policies.
These include not only today's disaster:
- 2005: A major explosion at BP'S 440,000 barrel/day Texas City Refinery killing 15 workers and injuring hundreds. According to a report that was issued after the accident identifying numerous failings in equipment, risk management, at the site, as well as failings in a working culture, relating to maintenance, inspection and general health and safety assessments.
- 2007: BP agreed to pay $303 million to settle civil charges and avoid criminal prosecution for allegedly manipulating and cornering the U.S. propane market in 2004. Please see "Energy Trading Oversight Awakens From Its Slumber with Anticipated BP Settlement" (10.25.07).
- 2009: The Federal government and the State of Alaska filed a civil lawsuit against a BP PLC unit in Alaska for breaking federal laws during two major oil spills totaling some 200,000 gallons of oil in 2006 at Prudhoe Bay, the country's largest oilfield. The complaint accuses BP of failing "to prepare and implement spill prevention" including not complying in a timely manner with a federal order requiring tests, inspection and repairs. Earlier Thomas J. Barnett then with the Office of Pipeline Safety would comment, "What disappointed me was their failure to maintain these lines in an accepted industry level of care." -- Also please see "Bravo BP! Those Record Earnings Really Help. Alaska and the Nation Thank You!" 08.09.06.
While the oil slick spreads we can at least rest assured that BP, perhaps a bit thin with hands on competence in containing oil spills, has ample experience in dealing with federal oversight agencies.