Offshore Legal Relief Costly and Unlikely

Missing from your otherwise clear reporting in “Chinese Drywall Cases Mount” is the fact that getting a legal judgment against a foreign corporation and/or manufacturer is far different from actually collecting the judgment against them.

ENR should cover this issue to help homeowners manage unrealistic expectations as well as help plaintiffs judge how much money they should spend in court to get a potentially hollow judgment.

When the pockets empty out at the top (in this case, Taishan Gypsum), the trickle-down liability, finger-pointing and collateral lawsuits could be endless.

William a. Tolbert
Chairman and CEO
The Meneren Corp.

Too Much at Stake To Cross Fingers and Trust BP

The oil flowing from 23,000 ft below the Gulf of Mexico’s surface after the April 20 blowout at the British Petroleum-owned Deepwater Horizon now is estimated at 210,000 gallons per day. By May 9, the total was 4.2 million gallons. With the failure of attempts to control the rupture with a containment vessel, the next hope would seem to be at least 90 more days away. This interval will add about 18.9 million gallons, for a total of about 23 million gallons—more than twice the Exxon Valdez spill in the Arctic, to give some perspective.

I am concerned that, if it succeeds, this optimistic, best-case 90-day second repair attempt still will leave us with a likely Gulf landfall, the consequences of which may be many orders of magnitude greater than the Valdez spill due to the coastline’s richer marine, estuarine and socioeconomic factors.

However, should the second attempt fail, then we may be left with an indefinitely leaking oil pipe, which inevitably would spill into the Gulf Stream and potentially contaminate Gulf Stream- affected areas: most of the East Coast and even the entire Atlantic, Caribbean and European coastlines.

With so great a risk, how is it all efforts have not been mobilized yet in this repair effort? Could we be facing unforeseen risks—like those associated with atomic research at Los Alamos—that threaten to contaminate or destroy much of the world? Is this the Peter Principle at work in technology?

These risks are too great for us to be trusting in only BP to “do the right thing.” The second repair attempt seems incredibly difficult, miraculous and unlikely. At best, success is far from certain. The potential cleanup and impact costs may be so exorbitant that neither BP nor anyone else will be able to afford the price.

Richard Reid
Wilmington, N.C.