BP Exploration pleaded guilty yesterday to illegally dumping hazardous wastes on Alaska’s North Slope and agreed to pay some $22 million to settle criminal and civil claims. Federal prosecutors say that a BP contractor dumped hundreds of barrels containing oil, paints, paint thinners, and solvents. Alaska’s North Slope is an environmentally sensitive area, and BP’s operations are near habitat for many birds and marine animals. BP contends that its dumping caused no damage, but the feds disagree.