A group of executives will discuss the legal and environmental ramifications of the BP oil spill this evening at 5:30 in the Mosher Alumni House.
The explosion of the British Petroleum Oil Company’s Deep Horizon oilrig in April released over 185 million gallons of oil throughout the offshore waters near the coast of Louisiana, taking the lives of 11 oilrig workers, injuring 17 others and permanently damaging many of the environmental areas of the gulf. Today, the representatives will engage in an open forum dialogue about the consequences of the spill and preventative measures against future disaster.
According to panel member Bret Stone, a UCSB alumnus and Santa Barbara attorney specializing in pollution and environmental contamination, the forum will also address local oil spills.
“On the panel, I hope to address where we have come since the Santa Barbara oil spill,” Stone said. “The message I want to convey is that we can all do better, and we need to do better, but we have a long way to go.”
In addition to addressing spill prevention in the county, other topics of conversation will include the role that experts play in the legal trials filed in response oil spills, the cost to clean-up polluted sites and the difference between legal responses to spills in the United States and United Kingdom.
Panel Moderator Elizabeth Botsford, a Los Angeles attorney with litigation experience in England, China and the U.S., said the event will provide attendees with a better understanding of international relations, risk management and legal issues involved during these disasters.
“I want this to be a very technical debate, with a lively, active audience,” Botsford said. “I want everyone to bring their questions and their opinions and I want the attendees to leave feeling like this is one step forward in the right direction.”
Panel member Gerard Forlin, a Queen’s Counsel from the United Kingdom said he joined the forum to offer his take — the experience he has gained while dealing with accident and oil spill litigation all over the world.
Forlin said he intends to offer greater insight to disaster management than is normally practiced in the United States.
“I will be addressing the wider issues of corporate responsibility and how the United Kingdom, Australia and other jurisdictions that I practice in have approached disasters.” Forlin said.
According to London native Botsford, Forlin’s position on the Queen’s Counsel is an honor only offered to a barrister.
“It would be brilliant for everyone to come,” Botsford said. “It is a rare occurrence to meet locals who are true experts in their field.”
Stone also encouraged people to attend the public forum.
“This event will be greatly beneficial to anyone who is interested in this topic,” Stone said. “Any time you have the access and the opportunity to learn more about the world, you should take it.”
Rich St. Clair, an attorney who advised Texaco in legal matters involving oil spills, will also sit on the board.