Socialist Worker

BP crisis continues 100 days on

Issue No. 2212

The boss of BP, Tony Hayward, has resigned—with a massive pay-off of £1 million and the likelihood of becoming a non-executive director of Russian joint venture TNK-BP.

This was announced as BP posted losses of £11 billion for the three month period of April to June and confirmed that it will write off £20.8 billion to cover the costs of the disaster.

While the media focuses on the troubles at the top of the company, 100 days have passed since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers.

The region’s fishing industry and marine life have been destroyed.

And as every day goes by, it becomes clear that the pursuit of profit caused the disaster.

The fire alarm aboard the rig was disabled the night it exploded. Michael Williams, chief electrician onboard, said the system that automatically sounded a general alarm was partially turned off because rig bosses “did not want people woken up at 3am with false alarms”.

Williams had reported concerns to superiors that the fire alarm system was a “wreck”.

And workers in the clean-up effort face similar challenges to those the 11 dead workers woke up to each morning.

So far, 128 clean-up workers are sick with flu-like symptoms including dizziness, nausea, and headaches after exposure to chemicals on the job.

BP has recorded 21 hospitalisations—but when seven workers from different boats were hospitalised with chemical exposure symptoms, BP dismissed it as food poisoning.

Bosses have told workers to report to BP clinics, not public hospitals where their numbers can be recorded by the state.

The Louisiana Environmental Action Network provided respirators to some workers, but BP forbade their use.

And BP is hiring prisoners for the oil clean-up. According to the Nation magazine, “Hiring prison labour is more than a way for BP to save money while cleaning up the biggest oil spill in history... the company and its subcontractors get workers who are not only cheap but easily silenced.”

Throughout the disaster the environment and the lives of workers have been shoved to the bottom in the drive for profit.

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Tue 27 Jul 2010, 17:54 BST
Issue No. 2212
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