BP has decided that it does not feel that those harmed by the Gulf Oil Spill deserve “future losses.” In its view, the environmental recovery efforts have been so successful that claimants are not likely to suffer any future harm from this catastrophe.
In papers recently filed with the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, BP asserted that "There is no basis to assume that claimants, with very limited exceptions, will incur a future loss related to the oil spill."Gulf Coast residents whose livelihoods depend upon the vitality of the environment might disagree.
While it may be true that fish populations in the Gulf remain large and that seafood testing has yet to reveal any significant contamination, Chris Nelson, vice president of Bon Secour Fisheries Inc., said that the negative effects of the spill may not be detectable until marine life has passed through several generations. Indeed, after the Exxon Valdez spill, it took several years for scientists to realize that the herring population had diminished.
As reprehensible as this legal maneuver might be, it should not be surprising those who have been following BP’s attitude towards a disaster that it played a large part in causing. In its Crude Justice report, the Alliance for Justice indicated that as early as February 2011, BP began its attempt to avoid paying future damages when it argued that GCCF’s proposed formula for calculating them was too high. Now, it appears that BP has gone a step further, asserting that claimants are not entitled to any future damages at all.
Of course, with this continued effort to see that claimants are paid as little as possible, BP is simply looking out for the interests of its shareholders. Because it cannot be expected to police itself, legislators need to be encouraged to ensure that all corporations like BP are held accountable when their recklessness wreaks havoc on society and the environment.
Click here to learn more about AFJ’s efforts to ensure that victims of the Gulf Oil spill are treated fairly.