BP OIL Spill
A copy of the contract issued by BP to scientists, obtained by the BBC, says they cannot publish the research they conduct for BP or speak about the data for at least three years, or until the government gives the final approval to the company's restoration plan for the gulf.
It also states that scientists may perform research for other agencies only so long as it does not conflict with the work they are doing for BP, and that they must take instructions from lawyers offering the contracts and other in-house counsel at the oil company.
Cary Nelson, president of the American Association of University Professors, criticised the contract. He told the BBC: "This is really one huge corporation trying to buy faculty silence in a comprehensive way."
Bob Shipp, head of marine sciences at the
"They contacted me and said we would like to have your department interact to develop the best restoration plan possible after this oil spill," he said. "We laid the ground rules – that any research we did, we would have to take total control of the data, transparency and the freedom to make those data available to other scientists and subject to peer review. They left and we never heard back from them."
The lawsuits range from civil racketeering and personal-injury suits to claims from out-of-work shrimpers and owners of now-vacant hotels on the gulf shore.
The cost of the spill to BP has already exceeded $3.1bn (£2bn), and the company has pledged some of its assets as security to the