Entries in BP Oil Spill (4)


BP Suspended from Government Contracts

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- BP is being temporarily suspended from government contracts due to its “lack of business integrity,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The corporation pleaded guilty earlier this month to charges stemming from the 2010 explosion on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 workers.  The counts include misconduct, violating the Clean Water Act, and lying to Congress about the amount of oil leaking into the Gulf.  The resulting spill was the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, according to the EPA.

“EPA is taking this action due to BP’s lack of business integrity as demonstrated by the company's conduct with regard to the Deepwater Horizon blowout, explosion, oil spill, and response,” the agency said in a statement.

The suspension means BP cannot receive federal contracts or grants until the EPA deems its business practices acceptable.  

The petroleum giant agreed to pay a $4.5 billion in penalties on Nov. 15. The Justice Department has also filed criminal charges against three BP employees in connection with the explosion.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


BP Oil Spill Trial Postponed Until March 5

Hemera/Thinkstock/BP/PRNewsFoto(MYRTLE GROVE, La.) -- Less than 24 hours before the environmental “trial of the century” was set to begin, the presiding judge, BP and lawyers representing a coalition of plaintiffs agreed on Sunday to postpone its start one week in order to allow room for a possible settlement.

“This is the biggest liability suit in the history of the world,” New Orleans environmental litigation attorney Stuart Smith said.  “Just writing a check for this is not that easy.  The damages are still occurring, and the oil is still washing up on the shores.  The challenge for BP to settle now is there are too many moving parts.”

MOEX, one of the minority partners in the doomed Deepwater Horizon well, settled out of court with the federal government last week for $90 million, after a $220 million settlement that rig operator Transocean made with the government.

If the case against BP goes to court, the total estimated payout for BP in punitive damages and government fines is predicted to be in the tens of billions of dollars.

BP’s Deepwater Horizon well exploded on April 20, 2010, killing 11 rig workers and spilling nearly 200 millions of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico for 86 days.

Officials from BP and the coalition of plaintiffs’ attorneys calling itself the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee would not comment on the details of any possible settlement being negotiated. Still, they agreed on Sunday to postpone the trial to March 5.

Emails released by the federal government show BP apparently knew that its initial estimates of the leak, officially at 42,000 gallons a day, were likely far higher.

The emails apparently show that BP actively tried to hide that information from the Coast Guard.  Government data later showed the spill to be a near open-hole situation, with 2.6 million gallons leaking every day.´╗┐

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


BP Wins $27 Million in Gulf Oil Leases

US Coast Guard via Getty Images(NEW ORLEANS) -- The Interior Department announced Wednesday that BP can officially return to deep water exploration in the Gulf of Mexico.

In a lease sale, in which the British oil company bid $109.9 million on 15 leases for oil and gas rights in the western Gulf, 11 leases worth $27.4 million went to BP, according to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

The lease auction was the first since BP's Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf last year.  

"Today's lease sale, the first since the tragic events of Deepwater Horizon, continues the Obama administration's commitment to a balanced and comprehensive energy plan," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement online.

Michael Bromwich, former director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, defended the Interior's decision to include BP in the sale.

"They don't have a deeply flawed record offshore," Bromwich said, according to the National Journal.  "We've done analyses over time on the relative safety records of offshore operators and they were in close to the top crew."

Bromwich added, reports National Journal, that officials close to the matter concluded that issuing an "administrative death penalty" was not necessary based solely on BP's one incident.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Gulf Shrimpers Still Reeling, Is BP Spill to Blame? 

U.S. Coast Guard/Getty Images(BATON ROUGE, La.) -- The demise of the Gulf's minnow-like killifish could be the start of an ecological tsunami, experts are warning.

"They're a fairly sensitive indicator relative to other species, which is good," said Andrew Whitehead, assistant professor of biology at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. "They act as a canary in the coal mine, if you will."

Whitehead and his research team studied killifish from the still-blackened Louisiana marshes and in Gulf waters that seemed clear of oil. What they found is disturbing: the toxic brew from 2010’s oil spill and remnants of the oil may be poisoning the marsh's most abundant fish.

Whitehead said the phenomenon was alarmingly similar to the ecological fallout seen in the years after the 1989 Exxon-Valdez spill, in which populations of otters, ducks and herring were decimated.

"A lot of the early warning indicators for those species that had problems in Alaska, we're seeing the exact same early warning indicators in our fish."

That means generations of gulf shrimp, oyster and snapper could also be at risk.

In Lafitte, La., two months into the white shrimp season, shrimpers are telling the New York Times that this one of the worst seasons they have ever seen.

But with no statistics available yet to corroborate the anecdotes, it is difficult to determine how bad a season it has been.

While there are a variety of theories as to why the catch may be down, those whose livelihoods are made on the shrimp boats are hoping it is just one bad year and not an indication of things to come as Whitehead's research may show.

"When you look at the structure of the gills from these fish that were hit by oil," Whitehead said, "Their gills look pretty sick. And the gills are pretty important for enabling fish to live in these estuaries."

The threat isn't just from the water, but also the wetlands.

Whitehead said that sediment acted like a sponge soaking up toxic oil, destroying killifish embryos and causing others to hatch late or develop heart defects.

"The sediment exposures are a knock over the head," he said. "There's very clear, compromised development in embryos that are exposed to the sediments."

If other marine life is affected in similar ways it could be catastrophic for the seafood industry.

The U.S. government says that seafood from the Gulf is safe to eat and that cancer-causing chemicals are at acceptable levels for humans.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐

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