In contrast with the indulgent attitude of American government and legal authorities toward death through negligence by the country's largest manufacturing company, the same authorities seem determined to do what they can to destroy BP, a foreign-based company, for an accident in the Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 oil-rig workers and injured others. So far the Deep Water Horizon blowout has cost BP over $40 billion dollars, a thousand times as much as the penalty imposed on GM for deliberately ignoring a fatal hazard, with the final cost to BP undetermined but potentially much greater.
Why the difference in treatment? No doubt the answer is complex. It is notable, however, that whereas GM deliberately ignored lethal defects in its product to achieve trivial savings, BP's Gulf oil spill was the result of errors and derelictions of duty mainly by its contractors and suppliers, including:
- Halliburton who supplied a defective cement mix to seal the well and then destroyed the evidence of this failure, for which deception they were fined by the US Government $200,000, or one two thousand five hundredth of BP's still rising oil spill cost, including cleanup, fines and compensation for losses, alleged or real, by Gulf area residents;
- Cameron International who supplied a blowout preventer of defective design;
- Transocean, the owner and operator of the Deep Water Horizon rig, who among manifold errors of omission and commission, mis-wired the blowout preventer and failed to recharge its battery; failed to monitor the "mud returns" as drilling mud in the well was being replaced with sea water thereby failing to spot a clear warning of a severe blowout risk; and a rig captain who failed to activate safety systems because he was too ill-trained (by the rig's owner) to understand his own authority.