The illuminating green, yellow, and white Helios is something we all recognize. British Petroleum (BP) is a global brand recognized for their refineries, facilities, corporate offices, wind farms, and even gas stations. With its commitment to “safety, respect, excellence, and courage,” how can one event change our entire perspective of the company’s core initiatives? The Deepwater Horizon oil spill began on April 20, 2010 and lasted for a total of 87 days, but the cleanup is still an ongoing process. The surrounding environment and livelihoods of several working individuals were tarnished by the recklessness of BP’s actions. Living in Houston, TX (their U.S. headquarters), the city and the Gulf of Mexico felt the repercussions of the oil spill. Could this have been prevented? Were proper actions taken to hold certain entities accountable for this spill?
On BP’s website, there is a brief, one-page summary of the incident, yet it never fully delves into specific outcomes or results from the Deepwater Horizon spill. For example, they state they “deeply regret [the] loss of life,” yet fail to claim how many lives were taken, which was eleven. They never mention the toxicity and widespread environmental disaster created from the explosion, and only mention their clean-up efforts. Additionally, the beaches in the Gulf were closed for months, hindering the tourist industry in the South. By claiming they are “working under the direction of the federal government,” they make their efforts seem more credible when, in fact, they continue to negatively impact the environment by adopting a rather lazy approach to cleaning up the spill. Though BP was responsible for only 67% of this incident (Transocean held 30% responsibility and Halliburton with 3%), all publicity turned to them after they repeatedly neglected responsibilities. I do not believe proper safety precautions were taken in order to prevent a spill of this magnitude. BP was ultimately charged with eleven counts of manslaughter, two misdemeanors, and a felony count of lying to Congress.
With such severe charges, it is a shame the public ignored the issue after individuals were exhausted of the media coverage pertaining to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The BP chairman was quoted asking to get his “normal life back,” and that there was not a “culture of safety” on the oil rig. Though not a similar situation to Nike or Apple, all executives (including BP) neglected safety precautions of their employees. There is more blame placed on BP compared to Nike or Apple because their labor was not particularly outsourced. With BP’s name on the rig, it is their sole responsibility to care for their employees while also maximizing profit. Up until 2014, the oil companies involved were still settling lawsuits in court, but the damage was already done.
It’s so easy to brush this issue aside by claiming it happened years ago, and that recovery efforts fixed the issue, but I can firmly state that the South will never be the same (at least not 6 years after the spill). The beaches are still dirty and used less for recreational purposes. Not to mention, wildlife is still recovering since their habitats were harmed by this spill. Though consumers will continue to roll up to their gas stations or pass by their corporate offices, I believe BP should still be held accountable for their actions and ensure their future operations protect their employees and the environment, not just their image.