Bp Amoco Takes A Big Bath In Alaska

After a whistleblower secretly taped conversations with company officials, a U.S. subsidiary of BP Amoco pleaded guilty to a felony over the release of hazardous waste off the coast of Alaska.

BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. was sentenced on Feb. 1. It was assessed the maximum criminal fine of $500,000 and ordered to spend $15 million for a court-monitored system to ensure that the highest environmental standards are met at all company facilities. The company also paid $6.5 million in civil penalties.

The release occurred between 1993 and 1995 on Endicott Island, a 40-acre, man-made gravel island northeast of Prudhoe Bay. Workers at a company subcontracted to drill wells illegally pumped toluene, contaminated crankcase oil, naphthalene, benzene, and other toxic wastes into oil wells, risking leakage into the surrounding environment. BP Exploration was charged with failing to report the illegal dumping as soon as it learned of it.

BP says it wrongly believed it was allowed to investigate the dumping charges before reporting them. The company says it does not believe the dumping harmed the environment.