Victims of BP, plc Greed Rally on U.S. District Courthouse Steps in Houston
On Monday, February 4th, victims, the families of victims and concerned Texans gathered on the U.S. District Courthouse steps and in the U.S. District Court of Judge Lee Rosenthal, to seek justice and block the BP, plc plea agreement with the United States Department of Justice.
Brent Coon, founder of Brent Coon & Associates, PC, Eva Rowe, whose parents perished in the explosion, and David Senko, manager of construction for J.E. Merit Constructors, Inc., were joined by the families of the victims of the March 23, 2005 Texas City refinery explosion, and notables from law, unions, environmental groups and activists from across Texas. With over 30 reporters and numerous television film crews recording the event, opponents of the plea agreement took the turns sharing how BP’s blatant disregard for worker’s safety had ruined their lives.
On October 26, 2007, the Department of Justice accepted BP’s agreement to plead guilty to felony charges and pay a $50 million fine, with no jail time for those responsible. What was even more disappointing to the participants is that since the Texas City tragedy, and in spite of the BP stated billions of dollars spent on safety improvements, three other good Texans have died from “accidents” at the Texas City refinery. And, sadly, it is anticipated that additional, human collateral damage at and because of the March 23rd tragedy, is in the future. The proof of these beliefs lies in the many documents obtained from BP and available for review at www.texascityexplosion.com.
Those requesting the court to rule against the plea agreement, believe that unless the penalties are so sever, and those responsible are required to individually pay for their crimes, BP will continue its culture of “Profits over People” and the death count rise.
Judge Rosenthal listened intently to the victims’ statements in her court. Those speaking, including Ms. Rowe and Mr. Senko raised issue with two key points. First, the death rate on average has risen, not decreased, since March 23, 2005. Second, the agreement was reached under the Clean Air Act of 1963 (last amended in 1990), which has no provisions addressing worker’s deaths due to negligence; only fines based on the level of pollution caused by the tragic explosion.
After an over six-hour court hearing, Judge Rosenthal delayed accepting plea agreement. No date was provided as to when Judge Rosenthal would provide her ruling.