The father of one of the 11 drilling rig workers killed in the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 tells a federal judge that British oil giant BP should be forced to pay at least $45 billion to resolve manslaughter and other criminal charges stemming from the disaster.
The figure is 10 times what the company agreed to pay under a deal with the U.S. government to resolve criminal charges as well as related Securities and Exchange Commission charges.
Billy Anderson, father of Jason Anderson, says in a letter filed with the federal court in New Orleans that U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance should reject BP’s plea deal at a hearing on Jan. 29. His letter, entered into the docket Tuesday, is the first victim impact statement filed with the court. Other rig workers’ kin are also expected to submit letters opposing the plea agreement.
“The plain and simple fact here is BP killed my son in their efforts to speed up operations, to save time and money, not only at the expense of my son’s life, but also the lives of 10 of his crew members,” Billy Anderson wrote.
Anderson said his son warned him before the accident that “they will end up killing us all” if BP continued to cut corners on the undersea Macondo well project. The well blew out on April 20, 2o1o, causing an explosion on the rig and leading to the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.
He said the loss of his son created a huge void in his life that can’t be filled. He believes BP, with its deep pockets, should have to pay more.
“You cannot begin to imagine the heartbreak all the parents go through every time we see a restaurant owner or a beach umbrella salesman on TV commercials tell how they were taken care of by BP, while all the parents received absolutely nothing but the statement, ‘You have no rights,’ ” the father wrote.
Addressing the judge directly, he added, “I know you will do what you can to make things right and demand BP pay for the lives of these 11 fine men.”
BP has agreed to plead guilty to 14 criminal charges, including manslaughter and obstruction of Congress. In a deal with federal prosecutors, it has agreed to pay a $4 billion criminal penalty. A $525 million fine for securities violations already has been approved by another federal judge.
If Vance rejects BP’s criminal plea deal at next month’s hearing, BP will be able to withdraw its guilty plea and go to trial. In addition to submitting letters to the court, victims’ relatives are expected to be permitted to address the court at the hearing.
Four individuals — two BP well-site leaders, a former engineer and a former executive — also face criminal charges in the disaster. They are preparing for trial.