April 30th, 2010
06:21 PM ET

In ironic twist, BP finalist for pollution prevention award

Call it a tragic irony.

BP, now under federal scrutiny because of its role in the deadly Gulf of Mexico explosion and oil spill, is one of three finalists for a federal award honoring offshore oil companies for "outstanding safety and pollution prevention."

The winner of the award - chosen before the April 20 oil rig incident - was to be announced this coming Monday at a luncheon in Houston. But the U.S. Department of Interior this week postponed the awards ceremony, saying it needs to devote its resources to the ongoing situation resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and fire.

Eleven workers are presumed dead and an estimated 5,000 barrels of oil are leaking every day from the well. The cause of the explosion is still unknown.

A spokeswoman for the Interior Department's Minerals Management Service said she did not know which of the three finalists for the non-monetary award had been selected, nor did she say whether the current circumstances could influence the decision if BP was the winner. Winners of the award are kept secret until the ceremony, she said.

The floating Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded and eventually sank 130 miles southeast of New Orleans is owned by Transocean Ltd., a Swiss company, but was under contract with BP. The U.S. Coast Guard has termed BP the "responsible party." In U.S. Coast Guard parlance, "responsible party" typically means the entity that owns the vessel that caused the spill and is responsible for responding to an incident.

It does not imply criminal negligence.

According to a Department of Interior's website, BP Exploration & Production Inc. is one of three finalists for a Safety Award for Excellence, which honors companies for "outstanding safety and pollution prevention performance by the offshore oil and gas industry." The other nominees are ExxonMobil Corp. and Eni US Operating Co. BP specifically was nominated in the High OCS Activity Operator category, for companies engaged in operations on the outer continental shelf.

The Minerals Management Service was to name the winner of the award at the 2010 Offshore Technology Conference in Houston next week. The annual award is an engraved plaque and a letter of citation, both signed by a Department of Interior official.

The awards program is intended to elevate awareness of safety and pollution and prevention, encourage voluntary compliance, educate the public and encourage excellence in safety and pollution prevention, the department says.

The program began in 1999, and is for a company's performance the previous year. British Petroleum has won the award once before, in 1992.

soundoff (153 Responses)
  1. Aaron I.

    The chemical they will use breaks down the oil so that bacteria and other organisms can eat it. I worked for a haz-mat company and we used stuff called Bio-Solve on land and water. Worked great, but cost about $100 for a 5 gallon bucket that would cover about 30 to 50 square yards.

    May 1, 2010 at 8:04 am | Report abuse |
  2. bw2004

    i wonder if bp should start paying for our loss or what about those in earthquakes because they removed all the tectonic plate lubricant oil so we could buy it back and drive around poisining ourselves with pollution no wonder people only live 50 or 60 on average and we all lack knowledge the poison is all around

    May 1, 2010 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Alex Winter

    If only we could harness the smug self-righteousness of liberals everywhere as an energy source, we'd have more power than the sun.

    May 1, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Sofrito

    Every rig run by Europe in the North Sea has shaped explosive caps that can be detonated remotely to instantly cap an oil well that has blown up. This is industry standard fir oil platforms in the world.

    Bush allowed all these rigs to be built in the Golf and he "relaxed" the requirement so his friends in big oil could save the cash.

    There you have it.

    Had this happened in a rig in the North Sea, the cap would have been discharged and there would be NO OIL SPILL.

    Thank you, Mr. Bush. I live in Florida and now I have to contend with the disaster caused because you refused to force your friends to comply with industry standards even the poorest country maintains.

    May 1, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  5. whynotthinkwhynot

    Well Shane, I have to agree with some of what you wrote. There are alternatives, but whether or not we'd go that route remains to be seen. Alcohol can be used- but requires more safety concerns as well as changes to some fuel delivery systems, and is best with major changes involving higher compression or forced induction. To that end, there's not enough corn for it, so something more like sugar would have to be explored. There's vegetable oils for diesel- but then, where are we going to grow it? Multi-story hydroponic plant factories perhaps? Then there's my favorite- hemp. Give engineered hemp seeds to everyone in the country. Grow them everywhere you can, sell them back to the govt, then the govt stores or sells them to alcohol and plastics companies. Then we can have biodegradable plastics, and some fuel.

    No matter what we do, we'll still need oil for quite a while. On a final note, I seriously disagree that any industrial facility is seriously concerned with the safety of their workers. I work in these, so I see it. Sure there are programs, rules, meetings, discussions- but when you get down to it DuPont doesn't pay for for their employees to see doctors for regular checkups that might help prevent long term damage from exposure to cyanide and other dangerous chemicals in trace amounts in their facilities. Cargill doesn't give their employees who work in facilities where trace SO2 is in the air- so their teeth rot out. Massey Coal mining won't fold up and give all his money to the families of the miners who died, nor will he ever repair his facilities to prevent another accident. Big corporations don't care, they just have to do something (which they continually laud themselves for in "Feel Good" TV commercials) so that nobody will raise a big stink and avoid their products. When a worker dies, he/she is easily replaced. We are expendable for the sake of profits for people like you.

    May 1, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Sofrito

    Alex Winter, if only we could harness the hubris and ignorance of neo-cons, we wouldn't have an energy crisis.

    May 1, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Phil4us

    What caused the explosion?

    May 1, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Robert Kerr

    I am quite surprised at some of the posts here regarding this oil spill. JC, you asked the question why foreign nationals are allowed to harvest YOUR natural resources, but what about American companies who exploit natural resources of nations all over the world? You conveniently left that out in your post.
    We as a global community should have concern for natural resource (over) exploitation and environmental degredation whether ithe issue is inside or outside our own political boundaries. It is precisely this kind of protectionist attitude which has been displayed posts such as yours that stop countries working together to come up with global solutions to environmental problems.

    May 1, 2010 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Tad Pole

    I love how everyone drives the car, uses the product, creates demand – and then complains about the company when something goes wrong. This could have been BP or any other company in my opinion. If you want to point a finger, let's all point it at ourselves, and then take a moment to really think about how to prevent this from happening again...

    May 1, 2010 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Brandi

    Hahaha, a finalist for pollution prevention. Is this a joke?

    May 1, 2010 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Bob Tinklestien

    Well if they are so good at it then we have nothing to worry about.. 😉 HOw is this news?

    May 1, 2010 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. krehator

    If I was responsible for an accident of this magnitude, I would go to jail. In fact, I would go to jail for MUCH MUCH less. However, big business, can do whatever it wants because barely anyone goes to jail, and any fines will be passed on to the consumer. The men at the top will STILL get their money. The motivation for profit is greater than the fear of punishment for negligence.

    Moral values, and the fear of having our lives ruined keeps most of us common people as law abiding citizens. Those same conditions do not exist for big companies. The people at the helm have someone else doing the dirty work for them.

    There is rarely such a thing as an "unpreventable" accident. Therefore negligence is almost always present.

    May 1, 2010 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. rh

    I'm not surprised, they have been very big on pollution prevention for years, as well as greenhouse gas emission reduction.

    Like the mining companies say, everyone has an accident once in a while.

    May 1, 2010 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ken Johnson (Thinkubator.biz)

    Here is my question. We look at new technologies all of the time and why would we not be using a product like Petro Lite? http://www.guardianenvironmental.com/petroguard-chemical-spill-absorbent/ . There product (and there are other small companies with similar products) would be a much more efficient way of cleaning up the oil and the animals. This whole thing for the fishing families is a tragedy.

    May 1, 2010 at 11:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Shane

    This is in reply to a couple of comments that were directed at me.

    Do you folks have cars?

    Do you burn Gasoline or Diesel?

    You you have plastic containers in your homes?

    Do you use electricity?

    Do you use Natural Gas or Fuel Oil to heat your homes?

    If the answer is yes to any of these questions then you have no right to start bashing them!

    As i said before, could their be a case for negligence here? Absolutely! Having said that, BP and Transocean should be held accountable for the total sum of the mess they have created.

    My point is the fact that these companies are handeling this material 24/7 365 days per year. They handel massive volumes of this material.

    If you have a look at the numbers in statistics, the results show these situations as a drop in the bucket. Case and point their safety record, really isn't horribly bad.

    As for the other person who claimed that I have no idea about what I am talking about, yeah think again pal. I am an Armed Security Officer and Emergency Responder for D.O.E. at Lawrence Livermore Labs. I am very aware of dangers in these facilities, (radiation in particular).

    Most of my family is from Oklahoma and works or worked for Phillips Corporation. So knowing a little about oil is in the blood. I do feel for the Roughnecks, they have the most difficult job in the industry, so I do respect them. However, every single one of those folks know how dangerous the job is. Its not an unknown to them. I am sorry about the 11 lost, however they knew what the risk were when they signed onto the job. Just as I knew what the risks were when I signed on and trained for my job.

    Don't read this as being unsympathetic to those workers. This is simply a matter of a very tragic accident. What I am saying is give BP and Transocean time to get it cleaned up. Which I have faith that they will.

    Jumping into the fray of Left Wing Natural Extremeists that feel that we should immediately drop the Fossil Fuels, (as if that is really going to solve the problem), is not the answer. Like it or not, this has to be a gradual step away from using these materials for our energy needs. making a sudden jump from one to the other only creates more problems, then we end up going right back where we were in order to make up for the lost time and wasted effort.

    For the record its not stupidity, its called practical knowledge or common sense.

    As for the one person's complaint about the company abuses of the workers at the DuPont Plant, I have an answer for that too. Its called meet with your Labor Union. If you don't have one, then get one. Finally, if these abuses are indeed happening, I have a law that you need to get familiar with. Its called the Weingarten Whistle Blowers Act. As a former Union Labor Representative I suggest you look it up and use it to your benefit. If you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem. Meaning if you don't report these abuses, you are enabling the problem to continue.

    May 1, 2010 at 11:50 pm | Report abuse |
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