BP Trying to Shut Out Safety Overseer?

According to CNN, BP, has is attempting to jettison an internal safety oversight body that the petroleum giant set up four years, ago, well before the current mess in the Gulf of Mexico. The so-called “Ombudsman Program” was set up in 2005 following an explosion at BP’s Texas City Refinery that killed 15 workers and a subsequent spill in Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay, the largest-ever spill in Alaska’s north slope.

The Ombudsman Program was specifically set up to hear BP workers’ complaints regarding possible safety infractions, and, according to CNN, “112 employees have filed complaints, and 35 of them have dealt with ‘system integrity or safety issues’ that the office says are extremely serious.”

But the report goes on to cite sources close to BP that the company has a distaste for an independent investigative body, and has quietly demoted, terminated, or shutout workers in the program. The report goes on to quote Rep. Bart Stupak, the chairman of the United States House Energy Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations that is investigating the Deepwater Horizon explosion and subsequent spill, as saying that the head of BP’s American subsidiary, Lamar McKay, told him earlier this year that the ombudsman’s office was slated for elimination.

“One of the first things Mr. McKay said was, ‘I’m going to replace the ombudsman. I’m going to shut her down,’ ” Stupak told CNN. “He wasn’t even on the job for more than a few weeks, maybe a month or two, and he wanted to shut down the ombudsman. We encouraged him not to do so.”

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