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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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BP Wins Right to Scientists' Oil Spill E-mails
4 June 2012 1:39 pm
After a legal battle that they ultimately lost, scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts have handed over some 3000 internal documents to oil giant BP. The release, which involves documents and e-mails focused on estimating the size of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, occurred on 1 June as part of a massive federal government lawsuit against BP. The scientists are not party to that negligence suit, which seeks to determine how much in water pollution fines BP will pay for the spill, but they have become caught in the crossfire.
In an op-ed published yesterday in the Boston Globe, WHOI scientists Christopher Reddy and Richard Camilli call BP's documents-request an "invasion of privacy" and an "erosion of the scientific deliberative process":
We are accused of no crimes, nor are we party to the lawsuit. We are two scientists at an academic research institution who responded to requests for help from BP and government officials at a time of crisis.
The scientists fear that:
Incomplete thoughts and half-finished documents attached to e-mails can be taken out of context and impugned by people who have a motive for discrediting the findings.
In addition to obscuring true scientific findings, this situation casts a chill over the scientific process. In future crises, scientists may censor or avoid deliberations, and more importantly, be reluctant to volunteer valuable expertise and technology that emergency responders don't possess. Open, scientific deliberation is critical to science.
A spokesperson for BP declined to comment on the Boston Globe article.
The 8 June issue of Science, which will appear online on Thursday, will have an in-depth look at the story.