Former BP oil rigger talks about Deepwater Horizon explosion, se - CBS46 News

Former BP oil rigger talks about Deepwater Horizon explosion, settlement

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POWDER SPRINGS, GA (CBS46) -

On April 21, 2010, Shawn Danzie was working on a supply vessel just 50 miles from where the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded.

Since that day, the impact on the ecosystem, a community, and the family of the 11 workers who died have been enormous.  

Danzie said his life changed too. Once an oil drilling moratorium went into place he couldn't find work.  For more than a year he took out loans and scrounged up whatever money he could to feed his family.

"As far as my debt and lost wages, probably around $80,000 or so," Danzie said.  "We went into a lot of debt."

Danzie, along with thousands of others, is suing BP for the financial strain the explosion caused his family.  And he couldn't believe the $4.5 billion settlement with the U.S. government.

"I was thinking that could help a lot of people catch back up with some of the debt they fell into," Danzie said.  "That obviously can't be a relief for people who lost a loved one, but at least it would be something to supplement what they were getting before to get their life back."

Since the explosion, Danzie said BP hasn't given him any relief, relief he feels that he is owed, along with thousands of other workers who were out of the job months after the spill was finally capped.

"I want to get back what I lost from a mistake that should have never happened," Danzie said.  "As far as the spill, it did open a lot of eyes out there.  The safety aspect of the job now is above and beyond.   I believe the safety we are going through now, if it was this way before the spill, I believe it would have never happened."

After the initial explosion, Danzie said he saw the terror in the eyes of the survivors of Deepwater Horizon moments after they were plucked from the roaring waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

"It didn't really hit home to me, it was as bad as it was, until I saw the vessel pull up beside us with the guys coming off the rig," Danzie said.  "The guys were just basically scared, shook up.  You know, everybody's head was down trying to make sure nobody was missing."

For Danzie, along with his wife, Kim, and two kids, life is starting to get back to normal.  But, it comes with a lot of time spent away from home to make up the losses from missed work.

"To try and get caught back up on my money, I am working six weeks on, two weeks off,"
 Danzie said. "That's to try and catch back up with the debt I fell into."

The payout to the U.S. is the largest criminal penalty in U.S. history at $1.3 billion in criminal fines.

Kim Danzie said she still can't believe the federal government reached a settlement with BP before other families who lost everything.

"We lost a lot, we lost our home, we had to move, I had to quit my job to stay home with the kids because we couldn't afford daycare," Kim Danzie said.  "They (BP) ought to be ashamed.  They are paying out to all of these high businesses and there are families that are still struggling."

The Danzies hired a lawyer and are currently in the process of suing BP. 

"From that $4.5 billion dollars, they get nothing," Kyle Koester said. 

Koester works for Jonathan W. Johnson, LLC. He said the Danzie's story is one that encompasses thousands of other workers who still are struggling after the explosion.

"I tell BP, a mistake was made, but it is on you to do what's right," Koester said.  "They got to make it right.  They got to start paying these funds out of the Deepwater Horizon funds, they got to open the scope to other people and to these families."

Danzie said many of his co-workers moved to Alaska to get jobs working on offshore oil rigs.  Lately, work has picked up, but not enough to get him back to where he was before the tragic explosion in 2010.

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