BP’s headache continues to get worse. In a July 29 letter to BP America’s President Lamar McKay, Reps. Henry A. Waxman (D-California) and Edward J. Markey (D-Massachusetts) have demanded BP’s executive appear before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce by August 6. Unlike then-CEO Tony Hayward’s testimony which focused on the April 20 explosion, this time Waxman and Markey are looking into a less-visible component of the BP disaster: reports that BP attempted to hire experts and bar them from discussing their findings with anyone outside of the company for three years or until BP established its Gulf restoration plan. In the case of the University of South Alabama, the BBC reports, the multi-billion dollar company sought to hire not just one expert, but the entire marine sciences division.
“The disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is not a private matter,” Waxman and Markey wrote,” adding “any effort to muzzle scientists or shield their findings under doctrines of legal privileges could seriously impede the recovery.”
Waxman and Markey cite reports from the Mobile Register, BBC and The Associated Press as among the reports that tipped them off to the oil company’s efforts. However, scientists aren’t the only ones being consulted, and Waxman and Markey have told BP’s McKay they want a full accounting of “third-party consultants, academics and scientists” retained “in connection with assessing the environment and health impacts” of the oil spill and Gulf restoration since April 20.
According to BP’s second quarter report, the company is the subject of 300 civil lawsuits, as well as investigations by the Department of Justice, US Presidential Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the US Chemical Safety Hazard Investigation Board, Congress and a joint investigation by the US Coast Guard and the Bureau of Ocean Energy, Management, Regulation and Enforcement over the Deepwater Horizon Incident. A report by The New York Times says BP has set aside $32.2 billion, for the cleanup, but acknowledges that lawsuits could up the amount owed.
The well, which was capped July 15 and poured between 35,000 to 60,000 of barrels of oil a day into the Gulf for 87 days, may finally be sealed. According to Bloomberg.com, the company may attempt the “static kill” this week.
BP could not be reached for comment.