The BP Oil Spill
“Thank God men cannot fly and lay waste to sky, as well as the earth,” said Henry David Thoreau on environmental damage. The BP, or British Petroleum, Gulf oil spill has been widely referred to as the biggest environmental disaster that the United States has ever faced, with over four million gallons of oil pouring into the waters off the Mexican Gulf Coast. The BP oil spill occurred in April of 2010. It was, and still is, the biggest oil spill in all of U.S. history. The massive spill wreaked havoc on Gulf Coast inhabitants, including animals, plants, and humans, in late April. Most of the sea life in the Gulf Coast waters perished, drowning in the oil that has monopolized the waters. The BP oil spill has been rated one of the biggest environmental disasters of this century. To examine what contributed to this title, and to stop another disaster like this from happening again, the public must look at how it happened and why, the economic and environmental impact, and the cost of cleaning it up.
The match that lit the fuse of the gigantic spill was a massive explosion on April 20th, 2010, on the Deepwater Horizon oil-drilling platform that killed eleven workers. The spill had already been going on for three months, gushing crude oil into the gulf, before it was finally capped on July 15th, 2010. Even after it had been capped for forty days, the people whose environment was directly affected had not yet been notified of any type of oil spill. An article by World Book confirms how the spill was started: “The explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil-drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, kills eleven workers and creates the worst environmental disaster in US history. For nearly three months, as BP struggles to cap the leaking well, about 4.9 million barrels of oil gushes into the Gulf.” (World Book 2011) This explosion directly affected at least eleven families who lost loved ones at the beginning of an enormous environmental crisis which would later affect people around the world through rising gas costs, loss of jobs in the Gulf coast fishing and shrimping industry, and the damaging effects to the coasts of popular tourist destinations. The chief executive of BP is Tony Hayward. He has become the face and voice of a company that Americans have come to hate due to the spill. Some Americans have even suggested that criminal charges be brought against BP oil for the negligence they have shown during and after the spill; “64 percent say the government should pursue criminal charges against BP and other companies involved in the spill” (Langer). In a spill of this enormity, the people have looked for someone to point the finger at and they have chosen BP management, in which the finger may have rightly been pointed.
BP oil has been under close scrutiny since the spill for any type of wrongful actions on BP’s behalf. Some unnecessary risks and ‘corner cutting’ taken by BP have come to light, severely damaging BP’s already damaged public image. These risks indicate to the American public that BP doesn’t care about public, employee, or environmental safety but only about saving money. The public sees and understands the unnecessary risks taken by BP as major contributing factor in the spill. This fact is recorded in a poll done by ABC, “Nonetheless, BP faces deep damage to its public image: nearly three-quarters of Americans, 73 percent, see "unnecessary risks taken by BP and its drilling partners as a significant factor in the spill” (Langer). As mentioned before, over half of the American public thinks that criminal charges should be brought upon BP, and these unnecessary risks could be a prominent reason why. BP cut corners and used far less than the recommended amounts of materials when building the pipeline. BP didn’t care about any other factors except making and keeping money. BP’s management has been severely questioned since this email has come to light: “ ‘Who cares, it’s done, end of...
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