New Database Tracks Top Environment, Health and Safety Violators

10/26/2015

By Stephen Dockery, October 27, 2015

The oil and gas, pharmaceutical and utility sectors top the list of a new corporate misconduct database that tracks U.S. environmental, health and safety violations of parent and subsidiary companies.

The database of violations matches parent with subsidiary companies to track penalties larger than $5,000 from 13 federal agencies since 2010, according to the Good Jobs First policy center. It includes some 100,000 cases, 1,600 parent companies and 25,000 subsidiaries, the government and corporate accountability organization said.

BP PLC’s massive fine over the Deepwater Horizon spill put the oil and gas sector atop the list while a series of pharmaceutical settlements involving promotion of medications placed that sector in the second slot, Good Jobs First said. The U.K.-based oil company had 66 recorded violations from a variety of subsidiaries,  most smaller than $100,000, according to the database.

The company with the largest number of penalty records was Virginia-based mining company Alpha Natural Resources, which clocked in 2,499 violations and $510,471,236 in total penalties, according to the database.

Alpha Natural Resources and BP didn’t respond to requests for comment.

“The fact that so many of the companies in Violation Tracker are repeat offenders…highlights the need to find more effective ways to deter corporate recidivists,” said Good Jobs First Research Director Philip Mattera in a press release.

Fortune 500 companies and non-U.S. Fortune Global 500 companies account for 81% of the database’s penalties, Good Jobs First said. Forty parent companies have paid more than $100,000,000 in fines, according to the database. The database may under record a company’s total numbers of violations, because some penalties are collated by the enforcing agency, Good Jobs First said.

Federal agencies whose penalties were included in the database included the Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency and the Mine Safety & Health Administration.

Write to Stephen Dockery at stephen.dockery@wsj.com, and follow him on Twitter at @S_Dockery