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With Pre-Spill Failures Clarified, BP Makes A Mess Of Cleanup Process

Kevin Douglas Grant |
November 17, 2010 | 9:13 a.m. PST

Executive Editor

(Creative Commons)
(Creative Commons)
A new report confirms what a lot of people have been saying all along:  BP was doing a shoddy job on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig before it blew up, killing 11 workers and causing the largest oil spill in human history.

The new analysis - from the National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council - asserts a "lack of a suitable approach for anticipating and managing the inherent risks, uncertainties, and dangers associated with deepwater drilling operations and a failure to learn from previous near misses."

It also confirms that offshore drilling is much more dangerous than BP and its partners were prepared for, something the disaster itself demonstrated quite well.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has been trying to find out exactly what happened before, during and after the April 20 explosion.  The report also suggests that we'll never know precisely, due to damage caused by the blast itself.

What matters most to local business owners on the Gulf Coast, however, is getting compensation from BP's $20 billion oil spill fund.  It turns out that is being run as shoddily as Deepwater Horizon was.  Al.com reports:

    * Several large businesses with claims of more than $1 million were paid just a small fraction of their losses.
    * Business owners who felt they had been underpaid were told they would have to waive their right to sue BP in order to argue for more money.
    * Business owners reportedly got no information about how payments were calculated, even in cases where amounts were vastly different than losses claimed.

At the same time, BP has been maneuvering to gain control of spill victims' right to sue anyone else for their suffering, reports Reuters:

"Just as the auto insurer could use that right to try to recover money from the negligent driver, BP will be able to pursue its partners for a portion of the claims it paid. That could be worth billions of dollars if BP is successful."

In other words, BP would turn around and sue the other corporations involved in the spill, Halliburton Co. and Transocean Ltd., for money they just paid out to Gulf residents.

The man being villainized for the problems is Oil spill claims czar Ken Feinberg, denies that BP is conspiring against claimants: "

"It’s not extortion," he said. "They do not need to waive their right to sue."

Meanwhile, the oil cleanup continues on the coast, to residents' dismay.  The Washington Post writes:  "Many are anxious to see the beaches cleaned as quickly as possible by whatever means are available. Others say BP may be making matters worse by bringing heavy equipment onto beaches and spreading the petroleum stain."

Local officials have given BP until Jan. 1 to finish the job, while residents have until Nov. 23 to file a claim.  With deadlines approaching, BP continues its demonstration of how not to handle a major environmental and economic disaster.


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