Panel says complacency, lack of safety attention led to Gulf spill

11 January 2011 15:07  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--The US presidential commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill said on Tuesday that the disaster was the inevitable result of years of industry and government complacency and lack of attention to safety.

The commission, which issued its full report on Tuesday a week after releasing an earlier chapter laid blame at the door of BP and its two subcontractors, Halliburton and Transocean, again criticised those three companies for their management failures and the proximate cause of the rig fire and resulting Deepwater well leak.

“Our investigation shows that a series of specific and preventable human and engineering failures were the immediate causes of the disaster,” said commission co-chair William Reilly.

The voluminous commission report also made multiple recommendations including a call for the US Congress to revamp offshore oil regulatory authority at the Department of the Interior, and to ensure that industry operators pay the costs of the expanded oversight role by the department.

The report also called on the oil and gas industry to create to its own self- policing safety and technology institute aimed at adopting, developing and enforcing standards of excellence to ensure continuous improvement in safety and operational integrity offshore.

“Much as the aviation, chemical, and nuclear power industries have done in response to disasters, the oil and gas industry must move towards developing a notion of safety as a collective responsibility,” the report said. It cited the nuclear power industry response to the 1979 Three Mile Island power plant accident and the subsequent creation by the industry of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations.

In addition, the report recommended that 80% of the penalties that ultimately may be assessed as a result of the Deepwater Horizon spill should be dedicated to long term, region-wide restoration of the Gulf of Mexico.

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By: Joe Kamalick
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