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Poisoned Legacy: The Human Cost of BP's Rise to Powerby Mike Magner
Synopses & Reviews
The story is all too-familiar: On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, killing eleven workers and creating the largest oil spill in the history of U.S. offshore drilling. But, this wasnt the first time British Petroleum and its cost-cutting practices destroyed parts of the natural world. It also was not the first time that BPs negligence resulted in the loss of human life, ruined family businesses or shattered dreams. Journalist Mike Magner has been tracking BPs reckless path for years and, for the first time, focuses on the human price of BPs rise to power. From Alaska to Kansas to the Gulf, Magner has talked to people whose lives have been destroyed by BPs almost unparalleled corporate greed. When BP acquired an abandoned Kansas refinery in 1998, it discovered one of the most contaminated groundwater plumes in the U.S. Rather than begin a full cleanup, BP declared there was no cause for concern. A former schoolteacher alarmed by cancer cases in the town pushed her community to take BP to court. In 2005, an explosion at BPs Texas City refinery, operating with a raft of safety problems because of neglected maintenance, killed fifteen people including the mother and father of a young woman who was driving there to spend the Easter holidays with her parents. A year later, thousands of gallons of oil spilled onto Alaskas North Slope from a corroded BP pipeline. Following a hurricane, BPs Thunder Horse rig almost sank because of a flaw in its construction, and repair work exposed even more serious problems. Poisoned Legacy is the searing true story of the rise and fall of BP, a company that went from being a green maverick promising a world “Beyond Petroleum” to one of the most notorious corporate villains in history.
"Last year's Gulf of Mexico oil spill was but one blowout amid a gusher of corporate misdeeds, according to this exposÃ© of the British oil giant. Journalist Magner gives a comprehensive rundown of the Gulf oil well explosion and leak, and of the rushed scheduling, substandard engineering, skipped tests, and faulty equipment that precipitated that disaster. That's just the capstone of his detailed account of BP's misadventures in North America, which include a 2005 explosion at the company's Texas refinery that killed 15 people, a 200,000-gallon leak from a corroded Alaskan oil pipeline, a steady drip of workplace accidents, fatalities, and pollution violations and a drumbeat of callow apologies, lawsuits, fines, and criminal probes. The author fingers a callous corporate culture that sacrificed safety to profits: one BP cost-benefit memo he cites used a cartoon of the Three Little Pigs to justify the trade-off between human lives and expensive safety precautions. Magner sometimes overstates his case; his account of a lawsuit by a Kansas town against BP over a shuttered refinery, for example, insinuates more than it demonstrates about the dangers of long-buried toxic waste. Still, he presents a lucid, hard-hitting indictment of BP's ingrained greed and irresponsibility. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, killing eleven workers and creating the largest oil spill in the history of U.S. offshore drilling. But this wasnt the first time British Petroleum and its cost-cutting practices destroyed parts of the natural world. It also was not the first time that BPs negligence resulted in the loss of human life, ruined family businesses, or shattered dreams. From Alaska to Kansas to the Gulf, journalist Mike Magner has been tracking BPs reckless path for years, and in Poisoned Legacy he focuses, for the first time, on the human price of BPs rise to power.
About the Author
Mike Magner has been a journalist for more than 35 years, including 10 years as a reporter at the Kalamazoo (Michigan) Gazette, 15 years in the Washington Bureau for Newhouse Newspapers, and four years as an editor and writer at the National Journal. He was born and raised in South Bend, Indiana, graduated from Georgetown University, and lives outside Washington, D.C., with his wife, son and daughter. He began reporting on BPs refinery pollution in Neodesha, Kansas, in 2002 and continues to follow the communitys efforts to require a cleanup of the contaminated site.
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