In 2006, there was a 200,000-gallon spill at BP’s Prudhoe Bay Alaska pipeline, the largest ever spill on Alaska's North Slope. As reported by ProPublica, leading up to the 2006 spill, “[BP] pleaded guilty to a felony conviction in 1999 for illegal dumping at an offshore drilling field [and then] it drew fresh scrutiny to its operations and set off a cascading cycle of attempted -- and seemingly failed -- reforms that continued over the next decade.” For example, “a 2001 report noted that BP had neglected key equipment needed for emergency shutdown, including safety shutoff valves and gas and fire detectors similar to those that could have helped prevent the fire and explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf.”
Among other things going at BP leading up to that spill, as reported by ProPublica, were: a pattern of intimidating workers who raised safety or environmental concerns, and managers shaving maintenance costs with the practice of “run to failure,’ under which aging equipment was used as long as possible.
This kind of behavior continuted after the spill. One technician, Stuart Sneed, who was later harassed after raising safety concerns, said, “’They say it’s your duty to come forwardbut then when you do come forward, they screw you. They'll destroy your life.’” See more here.)
In 2007, BP pled guilty to federal misdemeanor violations of the Clean Water Act and paid $20 million in criminal penalties for the Alaska spill. Then, in 2009, as AP reported, BP spilled another 13,000 gallons of oil onto the tundra at the Lisburne oil field, also one of the North Slope's largest spills, apparently violating its probation and “the company's probation officer, Mary Frances Barnes, filed a petition to revoke probation in November . She said BP violated its probation when it failed to take action on warning signs that the Lisburne pipeline was compromised months before it leaked.”
Further, “[W]orker harassment claims continued to be made in Alaska and elsewhere, and more problems with the Alaska pipeline systems also emerged. … Three more accidents rocked the same system of pipelines and gas compressor stations in 2009, including a near explosion that could have destroyed the entire facility. According to a letter that members of Congress sent to BP executives, obtained by ProPublica, the near miss was the result of malfunctioning safety and backup equipment.”
And ProPublica’s investigative team also found that as of Oct. 1, 2010, “[A]t least 148 BP pipelines on Alaska's North Slope received an ‘F-rank’ from the company. According to BP oil workers, that means inspections have determined that more than 80 percent of the pipe wall is corroded and could rupture. Most of those lines carry toxic or flammable substances. Many of the metal walls of the F-ranked pipes are worn to within a few thousandths of an inch of bursting, according to the document, risking an explosion or spills.”
I mean, it goes on and on. So yesterday, it was reported that BP will pay another $25 million civil penalty for the Alaska spill [which is] the largest per barrel civil penalty assessed, exceeding the statutory maximum because the settlement, resolves claims other than the spill, according to the EPA. The settlement also calls for BP Exploration Alaska Inc. to install a system-wide pipeline integrity management program.
"This penalty should serve as a wake-up call to all pipeline operators that they will be held accountable for the safety of their operations and their compliance with the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act and the pipeline safety laws," Assistant U.S. Attorney Ignacia S. Moreno said in a conference call with reporters.
BP admits no liability, and BP Alaska spokesman Steve Rinehart insisted that everything’s changed there since 2006. So pardon us for doubting that BP ever intends to actually “wake-up.” (Learn more about BP’s Culture of Corruption here.)