Tuesday, May 11, 2010

BP Is Still Grappling With Its 2005 Texas City Disaster

By Manifesto Joe

While various officials try to sort out who's to blame for the environmental disaster, not to mention the deaths of 11 workers, in the Gulf of Mexico, it may be time for a bit of context.

BP, the London-based multinational oil giant that's behind the huge Gulf oil spill, is still paying for a March 23, 2005 disaster. An explosion at a Texas City, Texas, refinery owned by BP killed 15 workers and injured 170. And investigations have repeatedly pointed to safety negligence on the part of BP leading up to that disaster.

Here's the U.S. Chemical Safety Board video on events leading up to the 2005 disaster:

To date, BP has been forced to pay over $1.6 billion in damages, fines and repairs for their gross negligence at Texas City. And litigation is still pending. A Wikipedia article details the company's persistent failure to heed or implement safety recommendations made as long as 14 years before the explosion.

And, BP is still fighting everything it can. It it challenging an $87 million OSHA fine, the largest in OSHA history, for failing to correct the hazards.

It appears, as usual, that nothing was really learned from history. BP continues to operate as a rogue multinational, with additional fatalities occurring at the Texas City refinery since the 2005 disaster.

From what we've been hearing from the kooky, phony-populist right wing and other sundry apologists for corporate greed, what we have here is failure to regulate. Such arguments are absurd beyond belief. I used to hold Warren Buffett in relatively high esteem for his modesty about his fortune and his sometimes progressive views. But he and his business partner, Charlie Munger, had the nerve to blame regulators for the duplicity of Goldman Sachs. And there are people who will consider lax regulators, not BP, to be primarily responsible for the current travesty in the Gulf.

This is like blaming the farmhand who fell asleep while the fox was pillaging the henhouse. Is the farmhand's ill-timed nap supposed to exonerate the fox of all guilt?

It's looking more and more like time to actually re-empower the regulators of capitalism, in all its facets. But that would require a sense of history that, so far, not many people seem to have.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas


Jack Jodell said...

Just like health care and Wall Street shenanigans: free market principles exercised to the extreme which hurt rather than help the majority of people. What a load of bull!

Anonymous said...

More like time to bring Teddy Roosevelt back from the dead.