Saturday, May 25, 2013
In BP Trial, Prosecutors Say Company Should Have Probation Revoked
Former employee, who was fired, testifies yesterday
Federal prosecutors argue that BP – the operator of the Prudhoe Bay oilfield – should have its probation revoked from the major oil spill on the North Slope in 2006. That’s a step that could mean more fines for polluting the environment.
Yesterday a 27-year BP employee said he might have been laid off in 2010 because of concerns he raised about conditions at Lisburne, a Prudhoe Bay satellite field where a pipe burst in November 2009 and spilled over 13,000 gallons of an oil-water mixture.
Phil Dziubinski was the ethics and compliance offricer for BP Exploration Alaska at the time of the 2009 spill. His job was to process and investigate employee concerns about operations and working conditions. An email written by an employee at Lisburne after the spill raised issues with 14 different pieces of equipment at the facility. Shortly after attempting to follow up on those matters with senior management, Dziubinski was told he would be laid off as part of a company reorganization to winnow out 200 middle managers nationwide.
In April 2010, he was suspended and escorted out of his office, apparently because of communications he was having with other employees facing layoffs. His employment ended in June, and he was an unsuccessful candidate for the state senate in November 2010.
An article in the Wall Street Journal this year detailed Dziubinski’s struggles within BP, concerning not only issues with equipment maintenance but also with allegedly excessive overtime due to short-staffing.
In court, BP attorney Jeff Feldman attempted to depict Dziubinski as a bitter employee who sought to embarrass his former employer in letters to the company’s federal probation officer. Feldman said nothing on the list of concerns from the Lisburne worker was tied to the oil spill.
Dziubinski said none of the individual concerns were a major problem but collectively they formed an apparent systematic neglect that had been a problem with BP since the 1990s.
BP spokesman Steve Rinehart told reporters that management met with Lisburne employees immediately upon receiving the email in January 2010 and had resolved half of the issues by April, when Dziubinski wrote his letter.
BP is scheduled to put on its defense in the hearing tomorrow.