April 20th of this year seems like a long time ago, doesn’t it? Four years ago this week, the world breathed a collective sigh of relief as the oil gushing from the BP-operated Macondo well was finally declared sealed. Oil gushed for 86 days, from April 20th to July 15th, 2010, when a cap was able to staunch the leak. Then, on September 19th, 2010, Federal officials declared it sealed for good after a relief well was drilled and a permanent cement plug was inserted.
It has been reported that between 4.5 million and 5.5 million barrels of oil were released during the 86-day spill. In a recent ruling in phase one of BP’s civil trial, Judge Carl Barbier said BP’s acts of gross negligence leading to the blowout, explosion and oil spill were numerous and profit-driven. “These instances of negligence, taken together, evince an extreme deviation from the standard of care and a conscious disregard of known risks,” he stated in his 153-page ruling.
The government is holding them accountable under the Clean Water Act. Yet, businesses whose bottom-lines took a hit in 2010, seem to be letting BP off the hook. Just over 110,000 businesses have filed claims with the BP Settlement Program to date. That represents a mere fraction of the million+ eligible businesses. The facts have not changed, yet the majority of businesses are likely going to leave money on the table, and in BP’s pockets instead of their own.
What we continue to be confronted with is the misperception among business owners that the Program is no longer accepting claim filings. Simply not true. Due to BP’s legal filings as it tried to renege on its own deal, the Program’s claim filing deadline was extended – now into 2015. There is still time to file, and all businesses are urged to get a quick, free evaluation by a law firm that specializes in the Program.
BP chose profits over people. BP was reckless. Yet, even with an objective, transparent, Court-run Settlement Program in place and specifically designed to return funds to valid claimants, businesses aren’t filing. The question remains, why?