Read an update of Deepwater Horizon survivor Stephen Stone's story
Houston Chronicle, February 26, 2012
The percentages won't mean much to Stephen Stone.
Whether a federal judge presiding over a court proceeding - which was set to begin Monday but has been delayed a week -- in New Orleans finds BP 50 percent liable for the Deepwater Horizon disaster or 65 percent or whatever doesn't matter to him. Almost two years after the disaster that unleashed the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history, BP, Transocean and Halliburton each will attempt to convince a judge that the other companies bear more responsibility.
"I think they're all at fault," Stone, 25, told me last week, speaking publicly about the ordeal for the first time since testifying before Congress in 2010. "It's frustrating to see them try to skirt responsibility."
The cold legal calculus used to determine the liability each company must bear is the sort of thing that matters to those who must deal with the cold financial aftermath of disaster - lawyers, accountants, executives and investors.
Stone's personal injury claim against Transocean, BP and others is among those included in the New Orleans mega-case, but for him, like others who escaped the Deepwater Horizon with their lives - and for the families of those who didn't - such machinations of the legal system seem far removed from the struggle to reassemble their lives.
Stone and his wife, Sara, married just six months at the time of the disaster, have faced trials of a different sort in the two years since he returned from the Deepwater Horizon. Like many of the survivors, Stone was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, which has made it difficult for him to keep a job. Read More
The definitive account of how BP's win-at-all-costs culture led to this era's greatest industrial catastrophe
"Steffy tells this sordid story well...." New York Review of Books
"A carefully and powerfully written story." Financial Times
"When an author uses a loaded word like 'reckless' in a book's title, the burden of proof is high. . . . Steffy meets the burden by demonstrating that corporate behemoth BP (formerly British Petroleum) could have prevented the 11 deaths on April 20, 2010, aboard the Deepwater Horizon. . . . The deaths and the gigantic oil spill following the sinking of Deepwater Horizon will surely become a landmark of corporate ineptness and greed for the remainder of human history, thanks in part to Steffy's remarkable account." San Antonio Express-News
"Steffy's book itself represents a heroic contribution to learning. His technical paragraphs are clear, even if some diagrams might have helped. His textual research is terrific, and the vignettes his interviews elicit from BP and Transocean operatives are funny, sad and telling in equal measure." James Woudhuysen, Spiked Review of Books
"Steffy has produced a fascinating, gripping, revealing account. . . . The book details events aboard the Deepwater Horizon in April of 2010 to start, but it digs deeper into what is revealed as a culture of cost-cutting boiling over within BP. Steffy documents years of incidents and poor management decisions, detailing the rise of key characters like John Browne and Tony Hayward alongside riveting outlines of horrifying events in Texas City and at other BP locations. . . . The book reads like fiction at times, with the author's heavily-detailed accounts of explosions and conversations creating vivid, nearly fantastical images. The tragic history of BP is all-too-real, though, as the lost lives and environmental damage certainly attest to.. . . Steffy is a thorough, straightforward author. His concerns largely lie with the loss of life and the general culture of cost-cutting of BP, painting an apt and terrifying picture of rampant, steady, costly neglect." Seattle Post Intelligencer
"Steffy provides valuable insight and crucial corporate context in explaining how so much oil ended up in the Gulf of Mexico." BusinessWeek
"[Steffy's] investigations reveal a corporate culture of cost-cutting initiatives that put profits ahead of workers' lives and the environment, with repeated safety violations and an abysmal accident history. . . . Steffy details how, in the context of BP's record, the disaster was just part of a pattern of poor decision making in the relentless pursuit by BP to become the largest and most profitable oil company in the world."
"Clearly written and well-researched, it's a useful probe behind the scenes of a major event for the general public and a cautionary tale for executives."
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