BP bosses can't claim they weren't warned that the company risked disaster if it didn't start obeying safety and environmental laws, according to internal memos an insider has leaked to ProPublica. A series of investigations, focusing on the company's Alaska operations, found that management, putting oil production far ahead of safety concerns, neglected aging equipment, skimped on inspections, and pressured employees not to report problems.
The inquiries were conducted by outside lawyers and an internal BP committee in 2001, 2004, and 2007, ProPublica notes. One 2001 report found that facilities in Alaska were lacking gas and fire detection sensors and emergency shutoff valves.The same systems weren't operating in the Deepwater Horizon rig before it exploded. Even before April 20, BP had more high-profile accidents than any other oil company, leading the EPA to consider banning the company from further federal contracts and drilling leases, EPA officials tell ProPublica.
(Read more Deepwater Horizon stories.)