Fired BP worker says he was asked to fake spill data

A man who supervised the BP cleaning efforts along the Mississippi shores claims he was fired after alerting federal officials that the company was falsifying data to make the shores look cleaner than they were, according to court records.

August Walter Jr. filed a whistleblower lawsuit against BP America in federal court in New Orleans last week. The Louisiana man claims the company refused to pick up oil debris from beaches and islands and then misrepresented data to mislead Coast Guard officials into thinking the cleanup was complete.

BP spokesman Tom Mueller told The New Orleans Times-Picayune that the company did not believe Walter’s complaint had merit:

The company promised to “investigate the allegations contained in his complaint, consistent with our personnel policies and code of conduct. We believe we have demonstrated good faith in meeting our obligations in the Gulf and are committed to treating our employees fairly.”

Walter worked as a state planning lead for BP’s cleanup operations until he was fired on Dec. 9, 2011. While working for BP, Walter claims BP was taking shortcuts and not following the environmental standards required.

“BP refused to follow the plan by picking and choosing what oil to pick up resulted in leaving oil behind,” according to court documents.

Walter said the company was leaving smaller tar balls along Mississippi beaches and islands. In the lawsuit, he claims he was reprimanded by BP supervisors when he tried to report the correct status of the beaches.

The lawsuit also alleges Carla Fontenot, vice president of BP’s Gulf Coast Restoration Organization, said Walter’s support was necessary because “it would have an upward impact on BP stock prices.”

BP Operations Section Chief Mike Harrison demanded that Walter misrepresent data, according to court documents. When Walter refused, Harrison changed the data himself.

Lt. William D. Spoon told The Times-Picuyane that the Coast Guard hasn’t opened a formal investigation into Walter’s allegations but is concerned about them.

Here’s the case:

BP case

17 Comments

  1. IMMORAL BP

    Well, well, well. O well. A well full of oil blown into the Gulf and all over the beaches. Well.

    #1
  2. Joe

    Yeah well, well, well. How do we know that it wasn’t the natural tar balls that have been floating up on the Gulf beaches since the dawn of time?

    #2
  3. Indianpaintbrush

    I agree Joe. Some don’t realize that small tar balls occur naturally. He sounds more like a disgruntled employee than anything else.

    #3
  4. A-noni-mouse

    I’m sure there’s no way he would just be trying to extend a paycheck, right?

    Seriously, are we supposed to believe not even someone from Louisiana or Mississippi would notice if the beaches weren’t really cleaned up and BP said they were? That’s a bit ridiculous.

    BP has stepped up for months now and put a lot of effort in the cleanup, as well as a lot of money to support the businesses and communities that were affected. Has anyone else?

    I’m not trying to be a cheerleader for BP or anyone. I just think that 21 months after it happened, at some point you have to realize that the assignment is going to come to an end and you’re going to have to move on.

    #4
  5. Tex

    Sounds like somebody’s paycheck was not large enough and that he found himself a lawyer who was more than happy to take on yet another frivolous lawsuit. I imagine August would not be able to distinguish between bird droppings and tar balls and needed some supervision.

    #5
  6. dr

    Maybe he was fired for something else and now he is trying to get even

    #6
  7. deaconknowgood

    Aware of BP’s past record in industrial safety, I’m inclined to beiieve Mr. Walter

    #7
  8. mr_magoo

    Maybe he is telling the truth, and got fired for not wanting to go along with the program that BP was FORCING! I say investigate it and let the chips fall where they may.

    #8
  9. Emporer_Has_No_Clothes

    Until BP makes sweeping and significant changes in its philosophies and policies, and within its communications and media relations staff in Houston and the U.K., it will continue to be a misguided and non-trustworthy corporate scoundrel with no credibility.

    #9
  10. jukester

    What an idiotic story. All you have to do is visit the beach today and see what you see. Accusations, claims, data on whatever pencil lead size tar ball claims you want to make….. hogwash, the beaches speak for themselves. They are not located on Mars after all! Go see – go visit – silliness and tie up of our constrained judicial system.

    #10
  11. David Gower

    Here we go again, spending time and money in court. Wouldn’t it be better to go look at the beach and measure the size of the tar balls? Convene the court on the beach would be the 2nd best choice.

    #11
  12. starchamber

    Let August Walter Jr. present his proof to the jury. If they find it not to be true then August should be fed to the gators. His lawyer should be fed to an animal that will eat lawyers, whatever that may be.

    #12
  13. Jackalope

    Before BP can claim an area is “clean”, the state must inspect the area and sign off. If there was still oil on the beaches, they would’ve refused to sign off and that would’ve meant BP had to stay and clean. The states are trying to get as much $$$ as they can out of BP, so they would not have taken this lightly.

    #13
  14. liz J

    HELPLESS, TEARS: Dealer says load of crab “contaminated with oil” — STATE TRYING TO COVER IT UP ?*Tears and a feeling of helplessness* When looking at a load of newly delivered crab, the smell “knocked us down,” St. Bernard Parish seafood dealer Kevin Heier told Fox 8 New Orleans. “Heier believes the crabs were contaminated with oil,” according to Fox 8. Heier was “in total shock” and had ne… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhUS_5FwNzwgdata.youtube.com

    #14
  15. CAD1936

    Gee, how can you doubt or challenge the truthfulness and veracity of BP? They have been so up front throughout this whole matter? And what about their truth and veracity regarding the Texas City Plant disaster?

    Just another reason why BP does not deserve to do business in this country. They have little respect for the laws, rules, regulation, court agreements and welfare of their own employees. Oh, the spokesmen say, but they produce energy so they should be given a carta blanc!

    Imagine this guy thinks that BP would lie about the welfare of the gulf, its business or its people for the sake of saving a little money!

    #15
  16. Woodlands Dad

    There is no way that BP would falsify data, especially when the spotlight from the entire world was upon them. No employee of any oil company would risk going to jail for their employer. This man is nothing but a disgrundled employee.

    #16
  17. Tex

    CAD1936
    You must have had your head buried in the sand since birth. This is just another story of someone stupid being dubbed by a greedy lawyer going after deep pockets. Remember the BP Atlantis lawsuit? Check it out.

    #17