BP officials allegedly tried to take control of a $500 million fund pledged by the oil company for independent research into the consequences of the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, The Guardian reported Friday.
Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act allegedly show BP officials openly considering ways to influence the work of scientists supported by the fund, the newspaper said.
Russell Putt, an environmental expert for BP, wrote in an e-mail message to colleagues in June 2010 saying, "Can we 'direct' GRI [Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative] funding to a specific study [as we now see the governor's offices trying to do]? What influence do we have over the vessels/equipment driving the studies versus the questions?"
BP faces fines and penalties and possible criminal charges as a result of the disaster and its total liability will depend in part on a final assessment by scientists on how much oil entered the gulf and the extent of damage to marine life and coastal areas.
"It's outrageous to see these BP executives discussing how they might manipulate the science program," said Kert Davies, Greenpeace U.S. research director. "Their motivation last summer is abundantly clear. They wanted control of the science."
The fund has established procedures to protect its independence, The Guardian reported.