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Oil Company Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter; $4 Billion Fine Not Enough

The criminal case against British Petroleum for the fatal Deepwater Horizon drilling rig disaster of 2010 concluded earlier this year. The judge in the case allowed BP to plead guilty to 14 criminal charges in exchange for a $4 billion dollar fine. The plea bargain has upset victims of the catastrophe, comparing the fine to a slap on the wrist for the British oil giant.

The Deepwater Horizon spill

On April 10, 2010, an oil well one mile beneath the surface of the water in the Gulf of Mexico blew out, causing an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig at the surface. Eleven people were killed and numerous others injured as a result of the explosion of the drilling rig.

Oil leaked unabated into the ocean for three months following the incident and, some believe, may still be leaking. Human injuries continue to mount due to the oil and dispersant – chemicals added to the oil to aid in clean-up – which pollute the ocean and coastline of the southern states.

Scientists and public officials gathered in January to discuss the continued effects on people who live and work along the shoreline. In the wake of the largest oil spill in U.S. history, it was clear that responsible parties for the clean-up were unprepared to adequately deal with the disaster. Public and political leaders grew increasingly alarmed at the number of dispersants used both at the surface and deep within the ocean.

Effects of chemical poisoning from the oil clean-up

Thousands of people have suffered health injuries from the oil spill, and gulf residents, clean-up workers, and fishermen are still reporting new signs of chemical exposure. Common health symptoms suffered by workers and coastline residents include such issues as:

  • Eye, nose and throat irritation
  • Respiratory issues
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting which is often violent and lasts for hours
  • Skin irritation or lesions
  • Short-term memory loss and confusion
  • Liver, kidney or nervous system damage
  • Hypertension
  • Miscarriage, birth defects or developmental disorders
  • Mental disorders
  • Cancer

Fortunately for victims of the catastrophe, the end of the criminal case against BP does not bar civil actions against the company. A civil lawsuit commencing on February 25, 2013, may force BP to pay billions of dollars more in fines.

If you or a loved one suffers from an oil rig, refinery or offshore accident, consult a personal injury attorney with extensive knowledge regarding such injuries as you may be entitled to compensation for your losses.