Monday, May 10, 2010

What if this happened to you?

What if you were on an oil rig that blew up in the gulf? What if you witnessed your colleagues die, burn to death but was sequestered for more than 24 hours, unable to let your family know you were alive because your company demands you sign a waiver that you not sue them? That you are not physically or mentally shattered? What if this happened to you?

Well, at this point in this country NOTHING should surprise anyone, but the stench of what happened to Transocean employees reminds me of the workings of a slimy, oily business man who won't let you go until you say, "Yes". In this instance, Transocean representatives with the Coast Guard kept survivors of the BP explosion on a boat for over 24 hours trying to get information and signatures.

The hold up was that the Coast Guard and Transocean representatives wanted full information of what happened. The survivors were told that no one leaves until forms are filled out. But one person did not fill out the Coast Guard form because he remembered one individual stating he was a lawyer from BP. The person's name is Christopher Choy.

But when Choy read the Coast Guard form, he didn't like what he saw. "At the bottom, it said something about, like, you know, this can be used as evidence in court and all that. I told them, I'm not signing it," Choy says. "Most of the people signed it and filled them out. I just didn't feel comfortable doing it." Choy shared his story at length with NPR and the PBS program NewsHour, in one of the most extensive interviews from a survivor of the April 20 rig blast.

The Coast Guard acknowledges it kept the men on the water in part so its investigators could get statements. But Choy says he thought the man who gave him the form said he was a lawyer with BP, the oil company. BP says it had no investigators or lawyers there.

Choy didn't sign the Coast Guard form. But he'd come to regret that he didn't refuse the next time he was asked to sign something.

The next time was after being up more than 24 hours, sequestered, only able to speak to his wife for a minute, when he got to a Louisiana hotel a Transocean representative was there for him to sign AGAIN.
But before they could go home, there was one more form and one more attempt to get the survivors to give information. At the hotel, there were representatives for Transocean who asked Choy to initial a line that said: I was not injured as a result of the incident or evacuation.

Choy had seen men with open wounds and burning flesh. He knew 11 of his friends were dead. He felt he was among the lucky ones.

Exhausted and just wanting to get home with Monica, he signed.

This is not surprising, all Transocean wanted was signatures to RELIEVE them of responsibility. Why? Because Mr. Choy is unable to go back to work, he has hired an attorney, he is having dreaded nightmares of friends dying, he is showing signs of possible post-traumatic symptoms, but his employer, Transocean reminds him that he signed off on their waiver and told them that, "I was not injured as a result of the incident or evacuation." Surprised? See what they do to you when you are sleep deprived? That is just how companies are and how they really feel about their employees. Sad, but true. Just as we see how really concerned BP is of the impact their irresponsibility will be on this region by trying to pay off residents on the cheap, like $5000.00 cheap.
Alabama Attorney General Troy King said Sunday night that he has told BP they should stop circulating settlement agreements among coastal Alabamians, the Mobile Press-Register reports. King reportedly said the agreements stipulate that residents will give up their right to sue the company in exchange for a payment of up to $5,000.

This from a company, BP, that is destroying the Gulf Region and afraid of what it may have to pay for their irresponsibility. So, to offer $5000.00 to desperate, poor individuals who makes their livelihood in these waters while masking that they really care is not much. Though BP has been told to stop trying to scam Gulf Coast residents, you better believe that if anyone signed a waiver, BP will fight it to the HILT, so their responsibility will remain minimal. Here is the wording from their waiver that is floating around the Gulf Coast:
The form reads: “I hearby agree on behalf of myself and my representatives, to hold harmless and indemnify, and to release, waive, and forever discharge BP Exploration and Production Inc., its subsidiaries, affiliates, officers, directors, regular employees and independent contractors …”

And to many dismay, the Obama Administration wavers over 27 oil and gas companies to continue offshore oil exploration studies. I don't know what studies mean in oil and gas talk, but if it is drilling like the Gulf Coast disaster, when will we learn anything?

Audio story from NPR, here. Read the full story, here.

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