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Deepwater Horizon update - whistleblowers and warnings gone awry - July 23


BP testimony: Officials knew of key safety problem on rig

Julie Cart and Rong-Gong Lin II, Los Angeles Times
BP officials knew about a problem on a crucial well safety device at least three months before the catastrophic April 20 explosion in the Gulf of Mexico but failed to repair it, according to testimony Tuesday from the company's well manager.

Ronald Sepulvado testified that he was aware of a leak on a control pod atop the well's blowout preventer and notified his supervisor in Houston about the problem, which Sepulvado didn't consider crucial. The 450-ton hydraulic device, designed to prevent gas or oil from blasting out of the drill hole, failed during the disaster, which killed 11 men on the Deepwater Horizon rig and set off the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

Investigators said BP did not disclose the matter to the appropriate federal agency and failed to suspend drilling operations until the problem was resolved, as required by law.

...Two BP maintenance audits from February and March indicated a number of mechanical problems on the rig, including an engine that was out of operation, a thruster that was not running and the leak in the blowout preventer.

The audits noted that the due date for inspection of the blowout preventer had passed, according to panel member Jason Mathews. Sepulvado testified he was unaware that the manufacturer required testing every five years. The device had not been inspected since 2000, federal investigators said...
(21 July 2010)
suggested by EB reader Bryan Pick


EPA Whistleblower Accuses Agency of Covering Up Effects of Dispersant in BP Oil Spill Cleanup
(interview)
Democracy Now
With BP having poured nearly two million gallons of the dispersant known as Corexit into the Gulf of Mexico, many lawmakers and advocacy groups say the Obama administration is not being candid about the lethal effects of dispersants. We speak with Hugh Kaufman, a senior policy analyst at the EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response and a leading critic of the decision to use Corexit. [includes rush transcript]

SHARIF ADBEL KOUDDOUS: The Obama administration has given BP the go-ahead to keep its ruptured well sealed for another day despite worries about the well leaking some oil and methane gas. National Incident Commander Thad Allen said the seep was not cause for alarm.

Meanwhile, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, has released its analysis of BP’s data on the exposure of cleanup workers to the chemical dispersants being used in the Gulf. OSHA chief David Michaels told the environmental website Greenwire that, quote, "I think you can say exposures are low for workers. Exposures of workers on shore are virtually nonexistent. There are significant exposures near the source, and that’s to be expected given the work being done there. Those workers are given respiratory protection," he said.

But with BP having poured nearly two million gallons of the dispersant known as Corexit into the Gulf, many lawmakers and advocacy groups say the Obama administration is not being candid about the lethal effects of dispersants. At a Senate subcommittee hearing last week, Maryland Democrat Barbara Mikulski grilled administrators from the EPA about Corexit and said she didn’t want dispersants to be the Agent Orange of this oil spill...
(20 July 2010)



Workers on Doomed Rig Voiced Concern About Safety

Ian Urbina, New York Times
A confidential survey of workers on the Deepwater Horizon in the weeks before the oil rig exploded showed that many of them were concerned about safety practices and feared reprisals if they reported mistakes or other problems.

In the survey, commissioned by the rig’s owner, Transocean, workers said that company plans were not carried out properly and that they “often saw unsafe behaviors on the rig.”

Some workers also voiced concerns about poor equipment reliability, “which they believed was as a result of drilling priorities taking precedence over planned maintenance,” according to the survey, one of two Transocean reports obtained by The New York Times.

“At nine years old, Deepwater Horizon has never been in dry dock,” one worker told investigators. “We can only work around so much.”

“Run it, break it, fix it,” another worker said. “That’s how they work.”..
(21 July 2010)

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