US agency can investigate Transocean in Deepwater spill – court

02 April 2013 16:59  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) as of Tuesday can continue its investigation into the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster that killed 11 and caused a massive oil spill into the Gulf of Mexico.

A US court on Monday denied offshore drilling company Transocean’s motion to dismiss the CSB’s subpoenas for records relating to the incident, affirming that the federal agency has the legal authority to investigate the disaster.

“A number of other companies have cooperated with the CSB’s ongoing investigation,” CSB chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso said late on Monday night. “Transocean, however, had raised a number of legal arguments and has not provided the CSB with key information even as the accident approaches its third anniversary.”

The CSB has been investigating the causes of the Deepwater Horizon incident, examining guidance for offshore production, reliance of manual safety controls and organisation issues, as well as implementation of safety and environmental risk standards.

The agency issued five subpoenas in 2010 and 2011, requesting records collected by Transocean’s international investigation team.

According to court document, Transocean argued that the CSB is bound by regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and that the Clean Air Act (CAA) prohibited the CSB from investigating the incident because it was a marine oil spill.

In addition, Transocean questioned the CSB’s authority to investigate emissions because the Macondo well is about 40 miles (64 km) offshore and not near any populated areas.

Transocean argued that the CSB failed to prove that it had the authority to investigate the Deepwater oil spill. The CSB had justified its investigation by arguing that it had the authority to investigate air emissions.

Transocean alleged that the CSB's authority to investigate emissions is limited, and the agency failed to explain why the Deepwater accident fell with that limited authority.

“The court’s decision affirms what we always believed – that the CSB has the legal authority and, indeed, the duty to thoroughly investigate the Gulf tragedy,” Moure-Eraso said.

In February, Transocean had agreed to pay $1bn (€780m) to settle civil charges, as well as $400m to settle criminal charges related to the Deepwater Horizon incident.

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By: Tracy Dang
+1 713 525 2653



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