Environmental news from California and beyond

« Previous Post | Greenspace Home | Next Post »

Gulf oil spill: Panel faults oil companies for 'culture of complacency'

November 9, 2010 |  3:53 pm


Investigators said Tuesday that they had uncovered "a suite of bad decisions" that included "one bad call after another" leading up to the April 20 Deepwater Horizon disaster that killed 11 people and created the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

William K. Reilly, who was EPA administrator under President George H.W. Bush, said at a hearing in Washington that many of the things that occurred before the blowout at BP's Gulf of Mexico well were still inexplicable, including poorly run tests, alarming test results that were ignored, proper equipment that was sidelined and safety barriers that were removed prematurely at the high-pressure well.

"Each company is responsible for one or more egregiously bad decisions," Reilly said in opening comments Tuesday.

Former Democratic Sen. Bob Graham of Florida, the other co-chair of the panel, agreed: "Leaders did not take serious risks seriously enough and did not identify a risk that proved to be fatal."

Their blunt assessment came a day after the panel's chief counsel said he had found no evidence that BP had cut corners on safety to save money.

"They didn't rule out cost, just said they weren't prepared to attribute mercenary motives to men who cannot speak for themselves because they are not alive," Reilly said of the panel's investigators. "But the story they told is ghastly: one bad call after another."

Read the full story here

-- Geoff Mohan

Photo: Firefighting vessels tackle the blaze that engulfed the Deepwater Horizon. Credit: Gerald Herbert/Associated Press