Mr Kennedy alleged that there was evidence of ongoing contamination of wildlife such as sperm whales in the Gulf. Photo: EPA
By Emily Gosden, The Telegraph, UK – June 2, 2013
Robert F Kennedy Jr, nephew of assassinated US president John F Kennedy, is an environmental activist and lawyer representing plaintiffs suing BP over the 2010 oil spill. He dismissed claims BP was being unfairly targeted as a British company.
“They are being picked on as an oil company that wrecked our Gulf and lied about it,” he told The Daily Telegraph. “I don’t care if it’s a British company or [US rival] Exxon. I would rather sue Exxon than BP, because I think Exxon is a worse company. But Exxon didn’t do the Gulf spill.”
BP shareholders and some commentators have suggested the company is being treated differently ever since President Barack Obama referred to it, in the wake of the disaster, by its long-defunct name British Petroleum.
Mr Kennedy alleged that there was evidence of ongoing contamination of wildlife such as sperm whales in the Gulf (of Mexico). “How are they going to pay for that? I think BP are getting off lightly.” BP shares have recovered from the lows of 2010 but still remain well below pre-spill levels, while profits have been hit by $38bn of asset sales.
Last year, BP agreed to pay a record $4.5bn to settle criminal charges, pleading guilty to the manslaughter of the 11 men who died in the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig and to obstructing Congress by lying about the amount of oil spilt into the Gulf.
It is still on trial over civil penalties for the disaster and is embroiled in legal wrangling over the compensation settlement it reached last year, which was supposed to resolve the majority of claims from businesses who lost money due to the spill.
Mr Kennedy said that BP should face “a high enough level of punitive damages that it gives an incentive to their industry to spend as much money on protecting the safety of the public and the environment as they do on their tax lawyers, who are trying to reduce their tax liabilities”.
A BP spokesman said: “From the outset, BP acknowledged our role in the accident and made a commitment to clean up the spill and pay legitimate claims. To that end, we waived the statutory cap on liability, and to date, we’ve spent more than $25bn in response, clean-up, and payments on claims by individuals, businesses, and governments.”