BP Could Get Manslaughter for Gulf Deaths

Law enforcement officials are considering whether to mete out manslaughter charges for the 11 deaths that occurred during the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig last summer. If it decides to go in that direction, BP managers would be held accountable for negligence and possibly making misleading testimonies -- a rare occurrence in the realm of corporate crimes. Bloomberg [via Daily Beast]:

Charging individuals would be significant to environmental- safety cases because it might change behavior, said Jane Barrett, a law professor at the University of Maryland.

“They typically don’t prosecute employees of large corporations,” said Barrett, who spent 20 years prosecuting environmental crimes at the federal and state levels. “You’ve got to prosecute the individuals in order to maximize, and not lose, the deterrent effect.”

Meanwhile the ongoing impact of the disaster is just beginning to be understood, as increasing numbers of Gulf residents are testing for often lethal doses of chemicals in their bodies after swimming in the Gulf and areas surrounding it. Not just attributing to crude oil, the chemicals are also attributed to toxic dispersants BP knowingly used in its 'cleanup' effort.

One sufferer, Paul Doom, 22, of Florida, was forced to forgo joining the Marines due to his sickness, reported Al Jazeera.

"I stopped swimming in July because I started having severe headaches that wouldn’t go away," Doom told Al Jazeera. "But each time I went to the doctor they dismissed it."

In October, Doom began to have internal bleeding, but this too was dismissed by doctors. In November, when it worsened, he was given pain medications in the Emergency Room and was told it would pass. Less then three weeks after that, Doom collapsed with a seizure.

"Since then, I've had two blood tests for Volatile Organic Compounds [VOC's] which are in BP's oil and dispersants, and they both came back with alarmingly high levels," he said.

Since the onset of his symptoms, Doom has been dealing with ongoing internal bleeding, nose bleeds, bleeding from his ears, blood in his stool, headaches, severe diarrhea, two to five seizures per day, paralysis in his left leg and arm, and failing vision.

"A toxicologist that interpreted my blood VOC results told me they didn't know how I was alive," Doom explained. "My Hexane was off the charts, and I have 2 and 3 Methylpentane, Iso-octane, Ethylbenze, and mp-Xylene."



AlterNet / By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

Posted at March 29, 2011, 3:50am

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