Why Isn’t BP Under Criminal Investigation?

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BP is a convicted serial environmental criminal. Why is there no criminal investigation?

Why hasn’t the government launched a criminal investigation into BP?

* By Jason Leopold AlterNet *

That’s the question several former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials have been asking in the aftermath of the catastrophic explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig last month that killed 11 employees and ruptured a newly drilled well 5,000 feet below the surface and has spewed tens of millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf if Mexico, which now stands as the largest spill in US history.

Like previous BP-related disasters in Alaska and Texas, evidence has emerged that appears to show BP knowingly cut corners on maintenance and safety on Deepwater Horizon’s operations, which, according to blogger bmaz, who writes about legal issues at Emptywheel, could amount to criminal violations of the Clean Water Act. Additionally, because people were killed, BP and company officials could also face prosecution for negligent and reckless homicide.

Scott West, the former special agent-in-charge at the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division, who spent more than a year probing allegations that BP committed crimes in connection with a massive oil spill on Alaska’s North Slope in 2006, said the company’s prior felony and misdemeanor convictions should have immediately “raised red flags” and resulted in a federal criminal investigation.

“If the company behind this disaster was Texaco or Chevron I would have likely waited a couple of days before I started to talking to people,” West said. “And the reason for that is those corporations do not enjoy the current criminal history that BP does.”

West, who Truthout profiled in an investigative report last week about the Bush administration’s apparent scuttling of West’s criminal probe into BP in 2007, was harshly critical of the way the disaster has been handled by the government. He said in an interview that BP and the oil conglomerate’s executives are “known as liars” and the fact that the government has treated “and continues” to treat the company with kid gloves is “outrageous.”

“BP is a convicted serial environmental criminal,” West said. “So, where are the criminal investigators? The well head is a crime scene and yet the potential criminals are in charge of that crime scene. Have we learned nothing from this company’s past behavior?”

Read more at AlterNet

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