Moral Low Ground

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Ex-BP Worker August Walter Files Whistleblower Lawsuit over Gulf Spill Cleanup

A former BP employee has filed a whistleblower lawsuit alleging he was illegally fired for airing concerns over the company’s cleanup of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The Associated Press reports that August Walter of Covington, Louisiana, who was hired as a “state planning lead” for Mississippi cleanup, filed the suit Friday in New Orleans. Walter claims that one of his BP bosses manipulated data on shoreline cleanup and deceived the Coast Guard about which substances needed to be cleaned up.

Walter helped formulate BP’s Mississippi cleanup plans after the 2010 blowout in the company’s Macondo well led to a massive explosion that killed 11 workers and caused the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. He claims he was terminated last month in retaliation for airing concerns that BP wasn’t adhering to environmental regulations and was “picking and choosing what oil to pick up.”

He also says he refused to deceive the Coast Guard into believing that Mississippi cleanup operations were nearing completion.

“This was all based on money and had nothing to do with actually cleaning up the oil or meeting the (Shoreline Treatment Recommendations) or environmental requirements,” the lawsuit claims. It also alleges that the company took “short cuts” in the cleanup effort.

Tom Mueller, a BP spokesman, told the AP that the company believes Walter’s allegations are baseless, but that it will investigate “consistent with our personnel policies and code of conduct. “

BP has spent $13.6 billion responding to the spill.

Walter’s suit, which claims the company violated the Louisiana Environmental Whistleblower Statute, seeks unspecified monetary damages, including three years of lost wages.

In related news, the Los Angeles Times reports that the environmental group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) has filed a scientific integrity complaint with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) alleging the Obama administration pressured scientists to downplay the magnitude of the BP spill. According to the suit, NOAA senior scientist William Lehr selectively represented scientific work in order to make the spill seem smaller than it really was. Lehr, the suit alleges, wanted to “accomodate the desires of the White House and the National Incident Command.” The Obama administration stands accused of meddling with the work of government scientists, despite the President’s promise to end the sort of political interference that plagued the Bush administration.

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