Gulf Oil Spill: Bp Has a Long Record of Legal, Ethical Violations

By Richard Mauer and Anna M. Tinsley | McClatchy Newspapers

ANCHORAGE — The causes of the disastrous blowout and gas explosion on BP's leased Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico are a long way from being determined.

Yet already BP's actions are facing unprecedented scrutiny, thanks to a years-long history of legal and ethical violations that critics, judges and members of Congress say shows that the London-based company has a penchant for putting profits ahead of just about everything else.

Over the past two decades, BP subsidiaries have been convicted three times of environmental crimes in Alaska and Texas, including two felonies. It remains on probation for two of them.

It also has received the biggest ever fine for willful work safety violations in U.S. history and is the subject of a wide range of safety investigations, including one in Washington State that resulted last week in a relatively minor $69,000 fine for 13 "serious" safety violations at its Cherry Point refinery near Ferndale, Wash.

While BP has said it accepts responsibility for the spill, it denies that it's guilty of a systematic pattern of safety and environmental failures.

"We are a responsible and professional company," said BP Alaska spokesman Steve Rinehart. "We work to high standards. Safety is our highest priority."

A review of BP's history, however, shows a pattern of ethically questionable and illegal behavior that goes back decades.

BP's best known disaster took place in 2005,
Posted on Saturday, May 8, 2010 email|print|tool nameclose tool goes here Gulf oil spill: BP has a long record of legal, ethical violations

A wife consoled her husband on the day after the Texas City oil refinery exploded after he learned his father was one of the 15 people killed. | Brad Loper / Dallas Morning News / MCT
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