Ten years and millions of dollars received in a court settlement withs BP have not curbed Eva Rowe’s anger.
“I don’t give a f**k about the money,” said Rowe, whose parents, James and Linda Rowe, were killed in the March 23, 2005, explosions at BP’s Texas City refinery. “I would rather live on welfare in a trailer in the woods in Louisiana with my parents than live in a mansion.
“I’m never going to be whole.”
It was Rowe’s lawsuit that forced BP to release thousands of documents related to explosions that killed 15 people and injured more than 170. Her settlement included $30 million in donations to the Texas A&M University Mary Kay O’Connor Process Safety Center, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, UTMB’s Truman G. Blocker Adult Burn Unit and College of the Mainland’s Process Technology program.
In addition, St. Jude’s Hospital and Hornbeck High School in Hornbeck, La., each received $1 million.
The money she’s personally received has gone to buying air conditioners for people who couldn’t afford them, and Rowe adopts families at Christmas, offering toys to children and helping families pay bills during the holidays.
“I want to help people,” she said during an interview in the office of her attorney, Brent Coon. “I thought if I helped people I would get better. I haven’t gotten better.”
The decade since her parents were killed included suicide attempts, ongoing bouts with depression and an anger for anything — or anyone — connected to BP.
“BP f***ed me up,” she said. “BP ruined my life. I spent $2 million for rehab. I’ve never been sober since this happened. Not once.”
Rowe does have a 5-year-old daughter who lives in California with members of her mother’s family. Rowe thinks — for now — that arrangement is for the best.
“My daughter is safer not being with me,” she said.
The girl’s father is no longer in the picture, Rowe said.
The money she receives each year from her settlement doesn’t last long, Rowe said.
“The money ruined my life,” she said. “I became all about the material things. I forgot where I came from. And I have no real friends. When people call I just answer, ‘How much?’ All anyone calls me about is to ask for money. I go out and blow it just so I can say I don’t have anymore money.”
Rowe believed her settlement with BP, and the release of often damming company documents, would lead to more direct action against company officials. It hasn’t.
“I want to put people in prison,” she said. “BP’s (managers) never really paid for what they did.”
While the company pleaded guilty for violating federal air quality laws, no company official has ever faced criminal charges.
Exasperating Rowe’s sorrow is the fact that her older brother Jeremy is critically ill because of kidney disease.
Rowe used to keep her mother’s mobile phone account active just so she could call and hear Linda’s voice.
She no longer has that phone.
“I miss my mom and dad very, very much,” she said. “I don’t even remember what they sound like.”