The Rachel Maddow Show | February 22, 2013
>>> november 26th , a shell oil rig pulled into port in seward, alaska . the rig had just finished doing drilling in the arctic when coast guard officials boarded the rig for a routine inspection. that routine inspection quickly turned into oh my goodness, there is a problem. shell , you are not allowed to leave this port until you fix all of these violations that we just found. what the coast guard found that day in seward, alaska , was apparently so troubling on board that rig that they reportedly call in criminal investigators to see if these aren't just regulations being broken, these were laws that were potentially being broken. but, quote, when criminal investigators arrived, they found that the noble discoverer's crew had been provided with lawyers, and that they were declining to be interviewed. before the coast guard even got on board that day, that drilling rig had already had a really eventful year in a bad way. it came lose from its anchor in july. it never nearly ran aground. nearly a fire in port. that thing is the good news oil rig for shell this year. last year the government gave permanents to shell to start doing some preliminary drilling in the arctic, and shell sent these two rigs up there to do it. and this one, with the crew that got lawyered up so they didn't have to talk to criminal investigatorser about the violations found on the ship, that was one of them. this was the other one. this one you can see here grounded off the coast of alaska last month. as we reported back then, it lost power, it went adrift. it eventually crashed into an island. the rig finally did get towed off of that island, and shell is now making preparations to drag it away, maybe to asia for repairs. but if it makes that journey, it will join its sister ship , this other one, which is also on its way to asia. this is the one where the crew had to get lawyers to avoid talking to the coast guard about all the safety violations. these are the two ships that shell sent up there after they got those coveted permits. when the coast guard originally boarded that rig back in november, they found 16 safety violations. well, thanks to congressman edmaed mark markey's office, we got the list. it's not a good list. violation number four, main engine piston cooling water is contaminated with sludge and oil. crew skims the oil off with a ladle and bucket during rounds. yes, that sort of ladle. yes, that sort of bucket. well called bob cavnar today who has been a guest a number of our times. we wanted to get his take on the violation. he told us the most serious aren't the ladle and bucket thing, but the ones related to things like self-closing doors in the area where the crew sleeps that the coast guard discovered did not actually self-close. it's automatic systems like that that become really important in case you have a fire on board. the deepwater horizon rig, for instance, did not have a properly functioning automatic throughout the rig which owed contributed to the disaster. we reached out to shell tonight to get the response to the list of violations being made public. they were not immediately available for comment. but this is it in terms of being able to drill in the arctic. shell is supposed to be the gold standard in terms of this type of work or the that entire industry. but this is the fate of the two rigs that shell has tried to make drill in the arctic. one of them gets beached. one of them gets lawyers. if the new secretary of the interior gets confirmed, one of the first things she is going to have to deal with once she is in office is the 60-day review of arctic drilling that the interior department started last months as a result of shell 's litany of accidents up there, essentially a review of whether or not the oil industry knows how to do this sort of things safely. that decision should be coming soon. but before that happens, something else big is set to happen in this industry. next week is sort of a busy week in washington. the house and senate are back in session. we're going to have the nominations of chuck hagel and john brennan acted on, we think. but it's also going to be a big week for the aforementioned most profitable industry on the blaent. planet. if you perntly took a boat out into federal waters off the u.s. coast and you dumped a barrel of oil into the water, there is a specific dollar amount that that would cost you for polluting the ocean like that. clean water act says if you had ordinary negligence, that barrel would cost you $ 1100 is your pollution fund. if your actions were worse, then the fine goes up. the clean water act allows you to be fined up to $4300 for dumping that one barrel of oil in the ocean. in the case of the deepwater horizon disaster in the gulf two and a half years ago, the biggest accidental offshore oil spill in history, in that case, bp is looking at that kind of per barrel fine for each of the roughly four million barrels of oil they spilled. if their actions were found to be reckless, bp would be looking at having to pay close to an $18 billion fine just to the federal government , just for the oil that they spilled, just under the clean water act . and the people suing bp here are not just the federal government , but state and local governments from five different states and more than 130,000 other private claimants. what starts on monday is slated to be one of the biggest trials ever in terms of what is at stake financially and in terms of how many people are involved. things like this, cases like this that are this big almost never go the trial. they always get settled out of court. but this one appears to be heading to trial. before a judge starting on monday. dang. motions.