Friday, July 23, 2010
Report that safety inspectors fled doomed oil rig six hours before explosion
by Larry Geller
According to Kieran Suckling, Executive Director of the Center for Biological Diversity, interviewed by WBAI-FM’s Christine Black for broadcast Thursday, the safety contractors fled the Deepwater Horizon six hours before the rig caught fire and exploded.
Of course, the contractors did not know that the rig was about to explode, but according to Suckling, whose organization has been reviewing the documents from the government investigation, they were told they could not inspect, and decided not to stay on an oil rig where conditions were such that they were not allowed to inspect.
The details revealed in the interview demonstrate a culture of cost-cutting at the expense of safety. Retaliation was the rule should a worker make an unfavorable report, up to and including firing. Decisions made by BP officials whose lives were not at risk, for example, in the choice of pipe to use, ultimately lead to deaths and disaster, according to the report.
Suckling explained why the double pipe typically used would have allowed methane to be diverted from the oil, but since there was only a single pipe, the methane came up within it under enormous pressure and exploded at the surface. He explained that a double-walled pipe would have been used for the exploratory phase of drilling and then replaced later with a single-walled pipe for production, but that BP wanted to save money by using the same pipe for both exploration and production.
Either the edited interview towards the end of WBAI’s Thursday newscast (download here) or the extended interview which they have made available here (download from this link) make quite an earful. Anyone who is curious about BP or their contractors, or about the negligent government oversight that resulted in the loss of 11 lives and the worst ecological disaster in US history might listen.
Because there is no transcript, the report is not available to Google or to be cited by blogs. It goes well beyond any report I have seen up till now in describing the shortcuts that were taken in the name of profits.
Workers on Doomed Rig Voiced Concern About Safety (New York Times, 7/22/2010)
Witness Cancellations Thwart Hearings on Oil Spill (New York Times, 7/20/2010)