April 21st marked the first anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. BP used the occasion to file a legal action against Transocean, Halliburton and Cameron International in advance of a closely approaching deadline for parties to file claims against each other. The lawsuits, which total over $40 billion (an amount roughly equal to the total expenses BP has incurred as the result of the spill), allege that it was faulty systems and services provided by these companies that were responsible to the disastrous blowout of the Macondo well.
BP is seeking damages from Transocean, claiming that their safety systems on the rig were responsible for the failure.
They are also going after Cameron International, the firm that provided the blowout preventer, claiming that it was “unreasonably dangerous.” Halliburton, the contractor that carried out the cement work on the well was also targeted. The plaintiff asserts that the company was guilty of “improper conduct, errors and omissions, including fraud and concealment,” which either caused or contributed to the catastrophic incident.
Each of the defendants claim that the blame for the spill lies squarely with BP, who allegedly cut corners on safety in order to save cost. Transocean called the lawsuit, “specious” and “unconscionable.”
To date, BP has borne the cost of the spill and the ensuing cleanup alone. According to their recent 2010 Sustainability Report, over $4 billion was paid directly in claims, though the total cost to the company of the cleanup and response were a good deal more than that.
Meanwhile, one year after the explosion, many in the Gulf Coast area have not forgotten, despite the fact that the rest of the world seems to.
Parents, siblings and spouses of the workers flew by helicopter Wednesday to see the waters where their loved ones perished. The chopper took them from New Orleans out to the well site, circled around so that people on both sides of the aircraft could see and then returned to shore.
In a statement, President Obama paid tribute to those killed in the blast and said that despite significant progress toward mitigating the spill’s worst impacts, “the job isn’t done.”
“We continue to hold BP and other responsible parties fully accountable for the damage they’ve done and the painful losses that they’ve caused,” he added.
Last week four representatives of the Gulf Coast community were denied access to BP Annual Shareholder meeting where they had hoped to make a statement. Many are concerned that the economy has not recovered from the effects of the spill, in both the tourism and seafood industries.
And there are still lingering concerns about the health and environmental impacts of all the remaining tens of millions of gallons of oil on the Gulf floor and chemical dispersant, close to 2 million gallons of which were sprayed onto offshore waters
In other news BP said they hoped to resume drilling in the Gulf of Mexico later this year.
RP Siegel, PE, is a writer and consultant on various aspects of sustainability. His most recent book is the novel, Vapor Trails, the first in a series co-authored with Fowler Center DIrector, former Ford VP and Plug Power CEO Roger Saillant. The book addresses issues around global warming and energy in the course of an exciting human drama.