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Old BP document calculates worth of human life with "Three Little Pigs" diagram

May 26, 2010, 9:00 am

Originally posted by Brett Michael Dykes - Yahoo! News - May 25, 2010

Just when you thought BP's image problem couldn't get any worse ...

The Daily Beast's Rick Outzen has uncovered an internal BP document illustrating how the company demonstrated the money-saving benefits of housing employees in trailers that could go up in flames during an explosion rather than house them in more expensive, blast-resistant structures.

The two-page document (which you can see at The Daily Beast) was originally found by attorney Brent Coon during the discovery phase of a suit against BP on behalf of families of workers killed in a 2005 refinery explosion in Texas City, Texas. It was prepared by BP's risk-management team in 2002 and is titled "Cost benefit analysis of three little pigs." The flippant report reads, in part: "Frequency — the big bad wolf blows with a frequency of once per piggy lifetime. Consequence — if the wolf blows down the house then the piggy is gobbled. Maximum justifiable spend (MJS) — a piggy considers its worth $1,000 to save its bacon. Which type of house should the piggy build?" The options listed range from a house built of straw to a blast-resistant house and the calculation placed a value of $10 million on each human life potentially lost.

Incidentally, BP chose one of the lower-cost options, one 10 times cheaper than the blast-resistant structures. Outzen notes that all of the fatalities in the Texas City blast "occurred in or around the nine contractor trailers."

— Brett Michael Dykes is a national affairs writer for Yahoo! News.

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