The Deadly Toll of the BP Disaster, One Year Later
One year ago today, these men were killed in the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig:
Jason Anderson, 35
Aaron Dale Burkeen, 37
Donald Clark, 49
Stephen Curtis, 39
Roy Wyatt Kemp, 27
Karl Kleppinger, 38
Gordon Jones, 28
Blair Manuel, 56
Dewey Revette, 48
Shane Roshto, 22
Adam Weise, 24
As calculated by Tierra Curry at the Center for Biological Diversity, the gusher also harmed or killed 10 times as much wildlife as U.S. government tallies claim during the year since the gusher:
• 82,000 birds in 102 species, including black skimmers, brown pelicans, clapper rails, common loons, laughing gulls, northern gannets and several species of terns.
• 6000 sea turtles in five species—green, Kemp’s ridley, hawksbill, leatherback and loggerhead—that are all on the endangered list.
• 25,900 marine mammals, including bottlenose dolphins, spinner dolphins, melon-headed whales and sperm whales. "The oil spill could impair marine mammal reproduction in the Gulf for decades, as some orca whales that were exposed to the Exxon Valdez oil spill have not been able to reproduce since that spill in 1989."
• Innumerable fish of 500 species. "The BP disaster particularly threatens species that are already at risk of extinction such as Atlantic bluefin tuna, Gulf sturgeon, smalltooth sawfish and the dwarf seahorse. The oil spill occurred during the peak spawning months for the bluefin tuna, pushing this severely overfished species closer to the brink of extinction."
• Vast numbers of invertebrates such as corals, lobsters, crabs, oysters, clams, zooplankton, starfish and sand-dwelling organisms.
• Unknown numbers of land-based animals such as federally protected beach mice.
• Damage to mangroves, sea grasses and wetland vegetation.
Personnel costs at BP:
• CEO Tony Hayward got "his life back" in exile at BP's affiliate in Russia. COO Doug Suttles, senior vice president Kent Wells and former head of exploration and production Andy Inglis left the company.
Economic costs to BP:
• $40 billion to $60 billion, perhaps higher depending on the disposition of lawsuits. The fine that the Environmental Protection Agency eventually levies on BP ranges from $1100 to $4300 per barrel depending on how negligent the company is determined to have been. At its worst, that fine could be $21 billion.
• The $20 billion compensation fund set up by BP at the insistence of President Obama has so far only paid out $3.8 billion to 176,000 claimants who suffered economic damage from the gusher. Most of the final claims already settled, 116,000, have been for quick, flat payments of $5000 for individuals and $25,000 for businesses. The idea behind this is to get those out of the way before tackling the bigger claims and the hundreds of now-consolidated lawsuits. The trouble with that approach is that shenanigans are putting pressure on some claimants:
Jackie Jackson of Metairie, a longtime waitress at Carmine's Restaurant in Metairie, was laid off last year. After sending her documentation to the claims facility no fewer than six times, she was three months behind on rent and about to be evicted. Last week, she took the $5,000 quick payment so she could pay her landlord and cover two more months of bills while she looked for a new job. She believes a full settlement would have covered about $19,000 in lost earnings.
"I signed the waiver, but I sent in a paper stating I signed it under duress," she said. "If I could have had more time, it would have worked much better."
If BP has been as concerned with safety as it claimed to be and taken its time on April 20, 2010, things might have worked out much better for everyone, including 11 men who would still be alive.