As the Gulf of Mexico turns into an oil-slicked environmental disaster, BP is quick to point the finger at Transocean, the owner and operator of the doomed Deepwater Horizon. But, as the New York Times reports, the oil giant itself has a history littered with spills, blowouts, safety violations, and promises to clean up its act. “It is a corporate problem,” says Rep. Bart Stupak, who will grill BP execs Wednesday. “Their mentality is to get in the foxhole and batten down the hatch."
Among infractions on BP's safety resume: a 2005 blast at a Texas refinery that killed 15 employees; a neglected pipeline that burst in 2006 and dumped 200,000 gallons of oil on Alaska's North Slope; and more than $550 million in safety fines in the years since, including 700 violations in the Texas refinery alone last year. Ironically, the Times notes the standard-bearer of industry safety: ExxonMobil, author of the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster.