Punish Supervisors Involved in Deadly Oil Spill

Target: Attorney General of the United States Loretta Lynch

Goal: Punish supervisors allegedly responsible for deadly oil rig explosion.

When the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded several years ago, it created America’s worst oil spill, killing eleven workers and releasing 134 million gallons of crude oil into the U.S. Gulf Coast. Due to a recent decision by the Justice Department, manslaughter charges against Donald Vidrine and Robert Kaluza, supervisors that were working on the rig, have been dropped, meaning the supervisors allegedly responsible for this catastrophe now only face misdemeanor charges for causing an environmental crisis that will affect the region for years.  To prevent another disaster and any further loss of life, the U.S. Justice Department must hold these men accountable for their alleged crimes.

In the immediate aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, then-Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department would be levying manslaughter charges against those responsible. Oil drilling is an extremely dangerous but also extremely lucrative practice, and it is not uncommon for corporations to take measures that lead to increased production, but also increased risk. In taking such an assertive stance, Holder hoped to send the message that future perpetrators would be held personally accountable for any disasters.

Unfortunately, efforts to prosecute those involved with the spill have been largely unsuccessful. Several executives from British Petroleum, the company that operated the Deepwater Horizon rig, have fought the charges against them and won their trials. According to a statement issued by the Justice Department, the recent decision to drop the felony charges against Vidrine and Kaluza came about because “after a careful review the department determined it can no longer meet the legal standard for instituting the involuntary manslaughter charges.”

Gordon Jones was a worker on the rig and lost his life in the explosion. His father, Keith, summed up the court decision succinctly, saying “As a result of this court proceeding today, no man will ever spend a moment behind bars for killing 11 men for reasons based entirely on greed.” Jones’s death, along with those of his co-workers, must not go unpunished. Though the trial may be long and arduous, the U.S. Justice Department must continue pursuing manslaughter charges in the Deepwater Horizon case, not only to provide justice for those killed but to warn greedy corporations that any misconduct will be severely punished.


Dear Attorney General Lynch,

Your department’s decision to drop manslaughter charges in the case concerning the Deepwater Horizon explosion is a grave mistake. Estimates suggest that Donald Vidrine, the supervisor responsible for the disaster, will be sentenced to nothing more than community service and probation, while Robert Kaluza, the other supervisor aboard the rig, faces only a single misdemeanor charge. Allowing these men to escape with only a light slap on the wrist is an insult to the memory of the workers who died as a result of their greed.

I understand that guilt can be difficult to prove in a case such as this, but I urge you to continue pursuing these charges. Harsh prosecution of both Vidrine and Kaluza will do justice to the memory of the fallen workers. It will also serve as a warning to future perpetrators that any similar crimes will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Divulgação Petrobras

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  1. It seems highly likely to me that these “supervisors” were always pressured by their own supervisors, to cut corners. Before prosecuting these two, I would want to ascertain that they were not following the safety rules of their company and their own bosses.


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