BP’s Reps on Deepwater Horizon Fighting Manslaughter Charges

B. McPherson
Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine, who worked as well site leaders on the ill-fated Deepwater Horizon oil drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico, are facing manslaughter charges. The charges arise from the deaths of 11 workers who lost their lives in the fiery explosion that saw over four million barrels of oil spew into the waters of the Gulf.

The months long spill fouled water, beaches and wetlands. It affected the health of countless people exposed to the oil fumes. The jury is still out on the eventual effect of the dispersant Corexit which was sprayed on the oil slicks.

In the legal action it is alleged that the site leaders ignored the warning signs that the well was not secure. The defense argues that the USA has no jurisdiction over the Deepwater Horizon drill platform because it was outside the territorial waters. It was tethered 50 miles offshore and the control extends only 12 miles. Beyond the 12 miles, the defense argues, if a vessel is floating then it is considered on the high seas. The drill platform was registered in the Marshall Islands which are commonly thought of as “flags of convenience”. T he lawyers also contend that the duties of the two defendants did not extend to the control of the platform’s performance and so the manslaughter charges cannot apply to them.

Attorneys for the men also contend that the seaman's manslaughter charge, which covers "misconduct or neglect of ship officers," applies to a captain, engineer, pilot, or other workers responsible for operating, maintaining and navigating the vessel, which did not include Kaluza or Vidrine. TimesPicayune

The environmental disaster touched off by the massive blowout of the BP drill site has been made worse by the slow progress of distributing compensation payments to those deeply affected. Mistrust has been the watchword. Earlier a former VP of drilling in the Gulf was charged with obstruction by not fully exposing the extent of the disaster when speaking to Congress. BP has been attempting to slow or prevent some compensation payments to those who claim losses.

So the upshot of the 2010 oil pollution of the Gulf of Mexico is a million gallons or more of a deadly neurotoxin dumped into the fishery, animals and plants killed, economic hardship that depends on a clean environment and sick people. Eleven men killed in a fire, more injured. Is this simply the cost of doing business?

Perished in Fire Aboard the Deepwater Horizon(Guardian UK)
Karl Leppinger, 38 Gulf War Vet., leaves wife, son
Adam Weise, 24
Aaron Dale Burkeen, 37, leaves wife , two children
Donald Clarke, 49
Ray Kemp, 27, leaves wife, two children
Jason Anderson, leaves two children
Stephen Curtis, 39, leaves two children
Gordon Jones, 28, leaves pregnant wife, son
Blair Manuel, 56, leaves three children, fiancée
Dewey Revette, 48, leaves child
Shane Roshto, 22, leaves wife

BP shares remain high. Tony Haywood has left BP to start new oil exploration company.

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