Almost a year after an oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico caused the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history, federal prosecutors are considering legal charges. Eleven workers were killed when the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20 last year, and the Justice Department is now reportedly examining whether negligence makes BP managers guilty of involuntary manslaughter. Is this just scapegoating?
If they were negligent, prosecute them: How do you divvy up blame for an accident, asks Stephen Reader at Death and Taxes. Well, it's quite easy when "government regulations are ignored or circumvented." And that certainly seems to be the case here: BP had reportedly been aware of problems with the cement used to seal the well for three years, and decided against installing a key safety device. If it's proved that BP chiefs "opted to use shoddy equipment, or no equipment at all," then by all means, let them face prosecution.
"BP honchos could face manslaughter charges."
Don't expect to see Tony Hayward in court: BP's former chief executive Tony Hayward became the villain of last year's oil spill, says Nitasha Tiku at New York, and many may be excited "picturing [him] in an orange jumpsuit." Don't get your hopes up. Charges will likely only be for "low-level managers who ran the operation."
"BP could face manslaughter charges for Deepwater Horizon deaths"
The feds won't prosecute, but this really hurts BP: It's unlikely that individual BP managers or executives will be hauled into court, says Kirsten Korosec at BNET. But the mere consideration of manslaughter charges is "horribly damaging" to BP. Why? Because that means prosecutors have enough evidence to pursue criminal charges against the oil giant. If the company is found to be grossly negligent, it might be forced to pay more than $20 billion in fines.
"Should BP managers face manslaughter charges?"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The mystery behind China's aggressive push into space
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- The best places to find love — and lust — according to science
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- This simple hack for slicing cherry tomatoes will astound you
- How the battle for religious freedom became a nonsensical free-for-all
- What religious traditionalists can teach us about sex
- 10 things you need to know today: July 30, 2014
- How to save Meet the Press
- Pay yourself first: The habit that can help you build wealth
Subscribe to the Week