A prison sentence would have done the thing that all those fines never did: force the company to begin paying attention to safety. Lustgarten: Thank you so much for having me. It did not work properly. Top management in London turned a blind eye to reports recounting problems. One day, the refinery operations were underway, and the fuel spilled out of the top of this tower that refines gasoline and should have been caught by this piece called the blowdown drum. Compounding the volume problem, the quantification problem, is the qualitative problem: claims eligible from Mexico or Norway or Washington, D.
Abrahm, thanks for joining us. Photo Joe Nocera Credit Fred R. It was Big Oil's nightmare moment, and the dominoes began falling years before the well was drilled. Jim Cowan at Louisiana State University, Dr. When we take the fact that 4.
But my findings is that the engineers who were drilling this well should have known better at many of the steps along the way, and they made a series of decisions that were against their better judgment. Even a criminal conviction has very little meaning for a faceless corporation. The crew immediately attempted to close a valve in a device called the blowout preventer, which sits on the ocean floor over the top of the well borehole. He had a long way to go, and he did it by acquiring a number of companies, seven in all, tens of thousands of employees, and also aggressively cutting costs. Scientists say it'll take years to assess the environmental damage.
Thousands of environmental samples from across the Gulf have been analyzed by independent labs under the direction of the U. Senator Bennett Johnston, now an industry lobbyist. In this clip, he questions, Dahr Jamail, your findings and suggests shrimp industry is doing better than ever before. So, from that standpoint, we can be as confident as you can be about the quality of the fish. I want to begin with Abrahm, about this issue of corporate responsibility and the fact that no corporate executive was charged. Together, all these people, plus a few investigators who had worked inside the company, had painted a portrait of how the company works on a daily basis, and also shared a good number of documents with me along the way. Lots of people knew better, including a handful of federal investigators who had been tracking the company for years.
Exactly this kind of increase occurred about 50 minutes before the rig exploded, but it was not interpreted as a leak. The documents are just coming out in the last few days. The threat of prison can change a culture faster and more effectively than even the heftiest fine. By Justin Mullins Eight catastrophic failures led to the explosion that destroyed the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 people and leading to one of the , according to. As consultants, we can't control our client's decisions, and as consultants, we are prime scapegoats.
This book is fascinating and disturbing. Become a today — in whatever amount is right for you — and keep public service journalism strong. You talk about—John Browne and Tony Hayward, among them—how they managed it, how this was a catastrophe that could have been avoided. Advertisement It always has before. But there is another reason corporate executives need to be prosecuted when corporate crimes take place. In the end, they requested that I send them questions by writing -- I did, it was about 25 pages.
It skipped safety procedures, pumped toxic chemicals back into the ground, and let equipment languish, even while Browne claimed a new era of environmentally sustainable business as his own. But what we haven't seen is also notable: There has been no legislative addressing of what went wrong in the Gulf of Mexico, and there's yet to be any criminal charges filed. His 2015 series examining the causes of water scarcity in the American west, Killing the Colorado, was a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting. To be sure, there are still to resolve, brought by several gulf states as well as the federal government. And at the time, there was some critical equipment that needed to be replaced. Abrahm Lustgraten is a senior environmental reporter for ProPublica, with a focus at the intersection of business, climate and energy. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Sometimes the workers even received reprisals for making them. Then it all began to unravel, in felony convictions for environmental crimes and in one deadly accident after another. And really I sought to understand why, and so I looked less at the disaster in the Gulf itself but more at the 20 years that preceded it, trying to understand how the company operates, how its management made decisions. And John Browne kept pushing, in that sense, even while oil was spilling in Alaska or refineries were blowing up in Texas. However, the blowout preventer has its own safety mechanism in which two separate systems should have shut the valves automatically when it lost contact with the surface. Gardner: Bottom line: Could this happen again, do you think? What I found is a very clear pattern of emphasizing profits and speed and cost-cuts ahead of safety and environmental prudence.
The explosion on the rig left 11 workers dead and sent millions of barrels of oil into Gulf waters. Interesting and also terrifying, given what I now know about the state of the Alaska pipeline and other matters. One commercial fisherperson told Al Jazeera that half of shrimp caught during the last white shrimp season were eyeless. Lustgarten: Well, there's the immediate causes, and that's well-tread territory at this point. Barely a year later, , causing a serious oil spill.
He wanted to be the largest oil company in the world. Today, while our work continues, I want to update you on the progress. They eventually pled guilty to those crimes, but then we see accidents happening again, like in the Gulf of Mexico. And in each of these cases, the company was charged with a crime as a corporate entity—two felonies, one misdemeanor. As the gas ignited, it engulfed the rig and caused it to explode, killing 11 workers on board, injuring 17 others. Lustgarten argues that the culture had been spreading like a cancer through the British oil company for years, culminating in the April 2010 tragedy that killed 11, seriously injured 16 and spewed crude oil into the Gulf for 87 days.