BP winning final approval in court of a $4 billion guilty plea has outraged some people who say it is "petty cash” for the company to resolve all criminal charges of manslaughter of 11 men against the company, as the judge ruled Tuesday related to the 2010 Macondo Prospect deepwater oil rig catastrophe that began in April 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico.
U.S. District Judge Sarah S. Vance in New Orleans concluded Wednesday that BP Exploration & Production Inc., a unit of London- based BP, “can take responsibility" for the charges tied to the Gulf Operation, the biggest offshore oil crime in U.S. history, "including 11 counts of felony seaman's manslaughter,” Bloomberg reports.
The BP plea is a "reasonable disposition" of charges, Vance said at a court hearing.
The $4 billion in fines and penalties "appears reasonably calculated" to properly sanction BP for "the serious consequences" of its mishandling of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, Vance said.
"BP PLC closed the book on the Justice Department's criminal probe of its role in the Deepwater Horizon disaster and Gulf oil spill Tuesday," AP reported after Vance "agreed to let the London-based oil giant plead guilty to manslaughter charges for the deaths of 11 rig workers and pay a record $4 billion in penalties."
$4 billion fine for $353.6 billion revenue company that murdered 11 men questioned
"$4 billion is a huge amount of money to you and me. It is not to BP," stated Keith Jones, a Baton Rouge attorney whose son, Gordon, was killed in the 2010 rig explosion over the Macondo Prospect well.
A Bloomberg News commenter reminded readers Wednesday about the manslaughter of the 11 men, that "BP burned them to death or drowned them."
Jones urged Vance to reject the plea, saying that the oil company was being let off too easily.
"It is petty cash to BP. Their stock went up after this plea deal was announced," Jones said.
BP's estimated revenue for 2012 was $353.6 billion, according to Bloomberg.
The plea includes a record $1.26 billion criminal fine and monitoring the BP’s future drilling operations.
The plea does not resolve separate civil claims by the U.S. and states bordering the Gulf of Mexico that allege BP violated pollution laws. Among those is $17.6 billion in potential penalties for environmental violations. BP also faces potential fines by affected states.
BP might eventually pay billions more for environmental damage from its 2010 crime.
An untold number of other people have died from chemical poisoning released by BP’s crude and the dispersant Corexit. Tens of thousands of Gulf Coast residents suffer crippling ill health due to BP’s crime.
The fine and probation for manslaughter are nothing but a slap on the wrist, say some outraged citizens.
“Another slap on the wrist for a company that has been criminal since it's time as the ‘Anglo-Iranian Oil Company’ which instigated the US/UK overthrow of Mohammad Mossadegu in 1953 and set that country and the middle east on a path of socio-political theocracy and dysfunction still in effect,” commented RiverPacific about Wednesday’s ruling.
“If they were ‘People’ as big corporations are alleged to be, they'd get life or worse for all they've done to the planet and it's many creatures, two legged, four legged, winged, finned and inert.”
"So BP ruined eleven men's lives - and their families, as well - but they should not have their careers ruined?" another commenter, a criminal defense attorney "lancemh" asks under the Bloomberg News' report about the ruling. "The whole point of imprisonment is to serve as a deterrent to future executives making decisions that they know will likely result in death or severe injury.
"What is the cost to society for the suffering of these eleven families? Drug addiction, depression, broken homes?"
Buddy Trahan, a Transocean employee survivor of the Macondo well blast, told Vance that he has received no compensation from BP, despite suffering severe injuries.
Trahan is among the untold number of Gulf residents who are suffering from the Gulf oil crime. Many of those are dying. Some have not survived. They have all been left to fend for themselves as victims of what experts have called a crime against humanity. (Vampire of Macondo)
“The government has caught the bank robber and cut a deal with the bank robber and left the people shot in the bank robbery to fend for themselves,” Trahan said.
Human Rights news reporter Deborah Dupré is author of "Vampire of Macondo, Life, crimes and curses in south Louisiana that Powerful Forces Don't want you to know," packed with censored stories about the BP-wrecked Macondo Prospect in the Gulf of Mexico that continues causing catastrophic human and environmental devastation.
See the "Vampire of Macondo" book trailer, "First book to reveal BP Gulf Oil Human Rights Abuses."
Follow Dupré on Twitter @DeborahDupre. For radio and television interviews, email firstname.lastname@example.org.