BP’s chief executive is coming under mounting pressure over the vast spill spreading in the Gulf of Mexico, which was caused when a giant drilling rig there caught fire and sank, with the loss of 11 crew members. The oil, still spewing from the well on the ocean floor, threatens to blacken the Louisana shoreline, and BP’s reputation.
When Mr. Hayward took over BP’s leadership three years ago, the company was badly run, accident-prone and accused in the aftermath of a deadly explosion at its Texas City refinery of putting profits before safety.
None of that seems to matter now, as BP heads into the crisis grinder. And with about 5,000 barrels of oil leaking from the damaged well each day.
Federal and state officials are starting to gripe about BP’s response. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal expressed “concerns that BP’s current resources are not adequate” to stop the leak, protect the coast and clean up the mess. The British oil giant also faces fierce criticism on Capitol Hill and a slew of investigations by federal agencies.
In 2005, the blast at the Texas City refinery killed 15 people and injured more than 170. A U.S. Chemical Safety Board investigation found the explosion was in part due to cost-cutting and poor maintenance.
In October last year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration hit BP with $87 million in penalties for failing to fix safety hazards at Texas City, the site of the 2005 explosion. A few months later, it slapped on another fine over lapses at another refinery, in Toledo, Ohio.
“The most shocking thing is that more than four years after the blast, BP still had very serious problems not only in Texas City but in other refineries as well,” said Jordan Barab, deputy assistant secretary of labor for OSHA. “There is a systemic safety problem across the company.”
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