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NORWEGIAN DIVERS FIGHTING THE NORWEGIAN GOVERNMENT OVER HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES

Feb 11th 2011 at 8:57 PM

If any one out there is serious and can help to find the families, or who just wants more information please contact me directly:

Steinar Flaatteng - E-Mail: steinar@o-s-l-o.no - steinar@bodysmart.no

Phone: +47 92 22 01 31

Or:
Tom Wingen
Brunla Gård. N-3294 Stavern, Norway
Tel: (+47) 959 444 85 | E-mail: mail@pioneerdivers.org

OrPioneer divers in Norway

NORWEGIAN SECTOR DIVERS - FIGHTING THE NORWEGIAN GOVERNMENT OVER HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES

This web site has been set up to draw attention to what is being done here in Norway for the divers and families of divers who were injured or killed in the Norwegian Sector.

In the early 90’s a group of divers in Norway formed an organization to fight for the rights of the divers and their families; the Nordsjødykker Alliansen, in English, the North Sea Divers Alliance or simply the NSDA.
The primary reason the NSDA began was because between 1965 and 1990 there were 56 confirmed diving fatalities in the North Sea; 40 British  divers, 8 American  divers, 5 Norwegian  divers, 2 French  divers and 1 Italian  diver.

There were also an equal or larger number of unconfirmed fatalities. Seventeen of these confirmed fatalities were in the Norwegian Sector. Most of these men had families. Very few of these families received any of the pensions they were entitled to under Norwegian Law. Additionally there were a very large number of serious injuries and long term debilitating effects from diving done in the early days of North Sea oil exploitation.

Based on a Royal Commission, referred to as the “Lossius  Commissionthe  Norwegian Government decided to award compensation to divers and or their families because the situation they faced. This compensation does in no way makes up for the loss of a father and husband or the men who suffered debilitating injuries but it does help contribute to a better life for the survivors.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Pioneer diver Norwegian flag

UK divers' relatives sue Norway

Norway's pioneer divers say profits were put before safety

The relatives of seven British deep sea divers who perished while working for the Norwegian oil industry are seeking compensation for their deaths.

Seven UK families have said that they are to join a lawsuit which is being brought against the Norwegian government.

They accuse the authorities in Oslo of using their relatives as guinea pigs.

Norway says it accepts moral, but not legal, responsibility and has offered compensation to disabled divers.

Poor health

The case has been brought by former diver Rolf  Guttorm Engebretsen, who worked in the North Sea from 1971-1992.

He attributes his long-term poor health - including memory loss, back pain and lung injury - to unsafe working practices which he claims were sanctioned at the highest levels in the Norwegian government.

They include diving at extreme depths over long periods and using unproven and untested breathing gases.
We can prove they knew they were hurting us and that they covered it up

Rolf Guttorm Engebretsen
Norwegian 'pioneer diver'


An Oslo court began hearing his case and that of 23 colleagues on 28 January.

Together the 24 are known as the 'pioneer divers' for their work during the early exploration of the Norwegian continental shelf which turned the country into the world's third largest oil exporter.

"We have 15,000 documents in front of the court. We can prove they knew they were hurting us and that they covered it up," Mr Engebretsen told the BBC.

He says the case deals a blow to Norway's traditional image as a model democracy.

No regulation

"We are a small country and we are the first to point the finger when it comes to human rights," he says.

"Norway has earned millions from oil and yet it violated the human rights of every diver that worked in the oil field."

Jo Revel agrees.

He is a British diver who worked in Norway for 16 years.
The state admits a responsibility on the basis of moral and political aspects, but does not acknowledge any legal liability

Norwegian labour ministry statement


He told the BBC: "The problem is that the diving business was never regulated properly. Like all oilfields, it's money that steers everything.

"At the time, Britain was anxious to get the oil out as quick as possible and so was Norway."

"There's overwhelming evidence that we were used as guinea pigs."

The Norwegian government is refusing to comment on the legal action by relatives of British divers who died on the job.

But it has already offered compensation to divers who have been totally or partially disabled.

A statement by the Norwegian Labour ministry on 31 January says: "The Norwegian state has not denied that divers have been injured as a consequence of diving in relation to the petroleum activity in the North Sea during the pioneer period."

It goes on: "The state admits a responsibility on the basis of moral and political aspects, but does not acknowledge any legal liability."

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Norwegian language:

Med alle de grove menneskerettighetsbruddene som den norske stat anklages for i dykkersaken, må det bli meget vanskelig for utenriksminister J   Jonas  Gahr Støre å reise rundt å kritisere andre for brudd som er langt mindre alvorlige enn det som til nå er dokumentert i retten. En bør kanskje rydde opp i eget hus før en bruker pekefingeren mot andre. 
Det kan heller ikke være særlig lettere for etikkutvalget til Pensjonsfondet-Utland og finansminister Kristin  Halvorsen å kaste selskaper ut av investeringsportefølgen med samme begrunnelse. Hun vil latterliggjøre både seg selv og hele Norge.

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Dykkerkontakten 24/07/365

Call this phone number +47 22 42 39 00 if you need contact for information 24/07/365

about the organisation Dykkerkontakten who can "take care of".

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By Iain Haddow
BBC News



The North Sea oil
rush of the 1970s offered big rewards for high-risk work and claimed several lives. Now families of British workers who died in Norwegian waters want to understand what happened to their loved ones.

In the early 1970s, the North Sea was a watery Wild West.

The world's economies were being pushed towards recession by astronomical oil prices.

In the relentless pursuit of oil, untapped sources under the ocean floor became the new panacea for Western governments.

Tempted by the high rewards - some would say greed - hundreds of British deep-sea divers took part in the exploration of the North Sea oil fields in British and Norwegian territorial waters.

They were the aquatic equivalent of the prospectors who had, a century earlier, searched the deserts and canyons of North America for 'black gold'.

Huge earnings

They are known as the pioneer divers.

According to a 1975 article in the Times, a North Sea deep-sea diver could earn as much as £2,000 a month - the equivalent of £14,000 today.

But according to retired divers on both sides of the North Sea, a disproportionate number of British divers perished in Norwegian hands because safety was routinely and knowingly compromised in the interests of profits.
NORWAY'S OIL BOOM 1965-1990
2,500 divers issued with Norwegian diving certificates
12 British fatalities in Norwegian sector of North Sea
123 disabled Norwegian pioneer divers compensated
No disabled foreign pioneer divers compensated
Source: NSDA, Norwegian govt

Divers' relatives sue Norway


On one side, the widows and families of the dead divers speak of conditions that would have caused the most hardened of cowboys to choke.

The Norwegian government, they argue, bears ultimate responsibility because it turned a blind eye to hazardous diving, and in some cases, knowingly approved of illegal working practices.


In short, they say their loved ones were treated as human guinea pigs.

On the other side, the Norwegian  government,   oil producers and diving  companies deny any wrongdoing. 

Ann Marie McCreath, from Gatehouse of Fleet in Scotland, is one of those searching for answers.

Unexplained accident

Thirty-seven years ago in March, her father, Mike Brushneen, was killed in an explosion on a Norwegian diving vessel, the Ocean Viking, in the North Sea.

Ironically, he was never supposed to take part in that dive.

He had been promoted and was due to be relocated with his family to Aberdeen. But his employer was desperately close to pumping oil.

A man of Mike Brushneen's experience was required to help deal with a problem on the well heads, that was holding up production.

Mike Brushneen died in 1971 in an explosion on a Norwegian vessel


Ten minutes before the end of the dive, he was killed in an unexplained accident.

Within days, his widow and three children were taken from the family home in Stavanger and flown to Newcastle upon Tyne.

Since then, Mrs McCreath has heard nothing from the Norwegian government, the oil producer or the dive company that employed her father.

There was no accident report and nothing on the death certificate to explain his death.

Her efforts to seek information from the authorities have drawn a blank.

"It's all about greed," she tells the BBC. "They really needed the money. They basically used those men as pieces of equipment."

"It's been horrendous. It destroyed our family. We had very little money as we grew up. My mother lived off a widow's pension, but we got nothing from the Norwegian government."

"It's hard to believe that as recently as 25 years ago, these things were going on in civilised countries."

Mrs McCreath's father is one of 17 divers killed on the job on the Norwegian continental shelf - 12 were British and one a US citizen.

The relatives of all four Norwegian divers have been paid compensation by the government in Oslo.

By contrast, only three foreign families - two British and the American - have received a payout.

Former pioneer diver Tom Wingen is collating evidence of malpractice


Six months ago, Ann Marie heard of Tom Wingen by chance when she entered her father's name in an internet search engine.

Mr Wingen is a spokesman for the Norwegian North Sea Divers Alliance NSDA and has been instrumental in bringing a class-action law suit against the Norwegian government.

He's one of 24 retired Norwegian pioneer divers who have gone to court to seek redress.

Collectively, they argue that they should be compensated for loss of earnings because of their work-related injuries. They say they contributed to Norway's economic transformation.

"I'm seeking recognition", Mr Wingen says. "Not just for Norwegians, but for the British too."

Floodgates risk

The Norwegian government has already paid compensation to 123 disabled divers.

It has admitted it has a "moral and political" duty to pay for their injuries, but has not acknowledged any legal responsibility.

Observers say it is reluctant to do so, in case it opens the floodgates to hundreds of new claims.

Neither the Norwegian government nor the state-run oil regulator, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, nor the main diving companies will comment on the men's families' allegations while the class-action law suit is ongoing.
These guys had no respect for human life; they were motivated by greed

Clare Lucas
Daughter of diver, Roy Lucas


Clare Lucas from Sheffield says it has been too easy for those responsible to avoid blame.

Ms Lucas lost her father, Roy, in 1983 in an explosion on a Norwegian semi-submersible oil rig, the  Byford Dolphin.

Five people were killed in the accident.

She accuses the Norwegian government of turning a blind eye to poor safety standards.

"So many people have been killed and they got away with it," she says. "These guys had no respect for human life; they were motivated by greed."
The state admits a responsibility on the basis of moral and political aspects, but does not acknowledge any legal liability.

Norwegian labour ministry statement


"My mum got no financial help for me and my brother and sister from the Norwegian government."

At the time, another diver, Billy Crammond, was blamed for causing the Byford Dolphin explosion, in which he too was killed.

The shame drove Mr Crammond's widow, Ruth, to move away from her native Scotland.

It was only recently that she was given an alternative explanation for her husband's death through Tom Wingen's organisation, the NSDA.

"Just six weeks ago, I found out that if a certain bit of equipment had been installed the accident would never have happened," she says.

"I felt ashamed, I felt that people were crossing the road so they didn't have to talk to me, so I moved to England.

Roy Lucas and Billy Crammond died in 1983 along with 3 other men


"I am very angry and I am looking for someone to come to me and say 'we are very sorry for what we have put you through for 25 years'.

"Yes, they are talking about compensation and yes, it would help. But the most important thing to me is justice and the truth. All they wanted was the oil and the money."

Ruth has since moved back to Fife.

Billy Crammond's daughter, Linda, adds: "I am very angry because I have now heard that if they had only spent £10 [on equipment], my dad and other dads would be alive today."

The NSDA says poor record-keeping and deliberate stone-walling by the authorities are making it difficult for foreign divers and their families to pursue their claims.

'Americans dying'

Mr Wingen has heard from scores of Britons expressing an interest in joining the class-action lawsuit. At least 250 people - 150 Norwegians and 100 foreigners - have come forward.

Ann Marie McCreath says the more she learns about the dangers of deep sea diving, the more determined she is to fight.

"The North Sea is now one of safest places to dive," she says, "partly thanks to the trade unions."

"But these horror stories are still going on in the Gulf  of Mexico", Ann Marie concludes. "They don't have any safety procedures and there are Americans dying there every month."

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NORWEGIAN SECTOR DIVERS - FIGHTING THE NORWEGIAN  GOVERNMENT OVER HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES

This web site has been set up to draw attention to what is being done here in Norway for the divers and families of divers who were injured or killed in the Norwegian Sector.

In the early 90’s a group of divers in Norway formed an organization to fight for the rights of the divers and their families; the Nordsjødykker Alliansen, in English, the North Sea Divers Alliance or simply the NSDA.

The primary reason the NSDA began was because between 1965 and 1990 there were 56 confirmed diving fatalities in the North Sea; 40 British divers, 8 American divers, 5 Norwegian divers, 2 French divers and 1 Italian diver.

There were also an equal or larger number of unconfirmed fatalities. Seventeen of these confirmed fatalities were in the Norwegian Sector. Most of these men had families. Very few of these families received any of the pensions they were entitled to under Norwegian Law. Additionally there were a very large number of serious injuries and long term debilitating effects from diving done in the early days of North Sea oil exploitation.

Based on a Royal Commission, referred to as the “Lossius Commission” the Norwegian Government decided to award compensation to divers and or their families because the situation they faced. This compensation does in no way makes up for the loss of a father and husband or the men who suffered debilitating injuries but it does help contribute to a better life for the survivors.
The official English translation of the Commissions report can be found on:
http://www.regjeringen.no/nb/dep/fad/dok/NOUer/2003/NOU-2003-5/16.html?id=381710


7.1 The Commission and its mandate

Pursuant to a decision by the Parliament on 13 June 2000 the Norwegian government appointed on 2 March 2001 an independent Commission of Enquiry to investigate all circumstances related to diving in the North Sea in the pioneer period.
The Commission received the following mandate:
The Commission of Enquiry shall assess all circumstances related to diving in connection with the North Sea oil industry in the pioneer period. This period is defined as 1965 to 1990.
A key finding of the commission was in reference to “Liability Issues”, this section is found on:
http://www.regjeringen.no/nb/dep/fad/dok/NOUer/2003/NOU-2003-5/16/8.html?id=381728


7.8.1 Liability for damages under Norwegian law
Under Norwegian law liability for damages may be imposed with a basis in the non-statutory concept of negligence or with a basis in strict liability. The main idea behind strict liability is that the risk entailed by an activity should be borne the party in whose interest the tortious act is committed. Strict liability is grounded in a balancing of interests where the issue is who is closest in terms of bearing the risk. There are no clear-cut dividing lines between negligent and strict liability.
In addition to the basis for liability (negligent or strict), there must be an adequate causal relationship and a financial loss.


7.8.2 Liability for damages on the part of the Norwegian State

When considering the Norwegian State’s liability it is expedient to take a basis in strict liability. Through the State’s declaration of its sovereignty over the Norwegian continental shelf, the State has acquired a limited ownership position over the shelf with proprietary rights to the subsea petroleum deposits and exclusive rights to resource management. By virtue of its ownership the State has overarching responsibility for activities on the Norwegian continental shelf.
Somehow, however, there was a slip between the findings of the commission and the execution by the bureaucrats. The compensation granted was small relative to the damages endured. As well, foreign divers were effectively excluded from receiving the compensation due to the bureaucratic quagmire faced.
Therefore it was decided by the NSDA to fight further for the human rights of the divers and families.
The Government of Norway has taken the stance that:


The Official statement from the Norwegian Ministry of Labour and Social Inclusion
http://www.regjeringen.no/en/dep/aid/Whats-new/News/2008/the-pioneer-divers.html?id=498586
The Norwegian government has taken responsibility for the pioneer divers at a moral and political basis, but has not acknowledged any legal responsibilities for the damage that has been inflicted upon the pioneer divers. Whether or not one is legally liable in accordance with compensation law regulations is a question for a court of law to decide.
After a very long and convoluted court case and months of deliberation the Court concluded that the “North Sea Divers claim did not succeed”
http://www.domstol.no/DAtemplates/Article____20211.aspx?epslanguage=NO


Oslo tingrett / Oslo Courthouse

There is no doubt, Oslo District Court acknowledges, that the pioneer divers suffered risks and health injuries due to their diving activities. However, the court cannot find legal grounds to state liability of the Government, neither objectively nor subjectively, and neither with reference to the law itself nor to previous court practice.


Subjective liability
When considering subjective liability, the court emphasizes that neither The Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority nor the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate did put aside any reasonable demands from the divers regarding supervision. Subsequently, the court states that the divers right to life were not offended. Neither were they exposed to inhuman or dishonorable treatment. Thus, the court cannot find any violation of the human right declaration.


Objective liability

Objective liability implies a legal obligation to compensate damages, even though there is not a question of “guilt”, negligence or intention to harm. In this case however, there is not a sufficient connection between the Government and the activities that injured the divers, to state such an objective liability. The role of the authorities as lawmaker, supervisor, administrator of licenses, receiver of tax and owner of the natural resources, do not itself make the Government a wrongdoer, the court underlines.
The court underlines, however, that human considerations indicate that the objective liability could be expanded, in order to fully compensate the long-term injuries of the divers. But such an expansion in the non-legislative area of the objective liability should initially be made by the Supreme Court.
On these grounds, Oslo District Court has not found legal basis to award the plaintiffs compensation.
Obviously this put the case in a “Catch 22” situation where finger bureaucratic pointing is rampant. From the perspective of those who are not living locally here in Norway the case seems to have degenerated into a parody of the BBC Documentary “Yes Minister”.
To understand the situation with the bureaucrats, click on the following links, these should make it more clear in reference to the bureaucratic wall we are encountering:
Yes Minister: Government Policy Policy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIto5mwDLxo
Yes Minister: A Public Inquiry: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FRVvjGL2C0
Don’t make the mistake that our case is unusual in the Norwegian Political System, the following to news articles serve to show the different faces of the Norwegian Government.
Norway joins fight to save Amazon; Norway has pledged $1bn (£500m) to a new international fund to help Brazil protect the Amazon rainforest.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7621179.stm
No compensation for injured soldier; The Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund (SPK) has ruled against compensating a Norwegian soldier for lasting injuries suffered during service in Afghanistan.
http://www.aftenposten.no/english/local/article2101465.ece
On the one hand, where it serves to bolster their international image, the Government of Norway is quite willing to use the funds that the divers helped to make available to them, but on the other hand it does not even acknowledge the sacrifices its own troops are making to support their international policies. Two very conflicting stances taken, clearly illustrating the convoluted political and bureaucratic mindset found here.
Fortunately we have very good legal council in Marius Reikerås; a political champion for our cause in Carl I. Hagen and support from the Parliamentary Commissioner, Arne Fliflet. There is also popular public support among the Norwegian people.
Please scroll through the buttons on the left of the page to learn more about what is happening here.
Finally, please understand that the NSDA is a loose-knit bunch of old divers working together. We need your help in making this all work.

This group has managed to achieve a lot over the years, and we’re still working, it’s not finished yet. We would appreciate you joining in and helping where you can.

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