Another Deepwater Horizon in Our Future

According to a report by the U.S Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board as reported by gCaptain, the problems that caused the Deepwater Horizon disaster have gone unresolved.

“Industry practice and federal safety rules currently in place in the Gulf may not prevent another catastrophic spill, according to the report. U.S. regulations fall short of standards used for drilling off the coasts of Norway, Australia and the U.K., which require more rigorous, regular and independent safety-equipment checks, the agency said.”

The copyrighted Bloomberg story also reports government and industry reaction.

The CSB draft report can be found here.

Trust But Verify

“Trust But Verify.” It was a phrase from the Cold War, but it is still good advice. The Deepwater Horizon disaster has shown that the federal government may have put too much trust in the oil companies and certainly had little or no ability to verify. The regulators are in a position of having to depend on the organizations they are regulating for the information needed to regulate.

The regulators apparently need a lot more in house information about best practices for deepwater drilling. If the government intends to effectively regulate deep ocean drilling, it needs the ability to go there and see for themselves. They need to be able to test equipment like blowout preventers in the actual environment where they are supposed to work. They need to have responses to equipment failure prepared and tested before there is an actual failure. They need a place where whistle blowers will be heard and their honest concerns addressed.

Whether the capability is invested in Coast Guard, MMS, or some other entity, the government needs the capability to take action, independent of the oil companies. The next question would be, who pays for it? The oil companies of course. They should pay to be policed.

Deepwater Horizon, Transparency and ABC

On June 3, ABC News accused the Coast Guard of acting in collusion with BP to minimize the estimate of oil being discharged from the wreckage of the Deepwater Horizon. I learned about the report from a blog I visit regularly.

While there is much to talk about regarding ABC’s report, including how statements were taken out of context, whether initial estimates of the discharge rate would have any effect on the fines ultimately levied against BP; whether the inaccuracy of those estimates had in any way reduced the urgency of our response, whether this was about a cover up or simply a media outlet sulking because they were not given access to the best available video.

The thing I found truly gratifying was the view of the blogger and of those who commented on the blog. They trusted the Coast Guard because we had been honest in the past, even, and especially when, it wasn’t pretty.

“I am having a seriously hard time believing that the US Coast Guard, which was at the time under the command of Admiral Thad Allen, was the responsible party withholding this information from the public for BP.”…..”US Admirals, Navy or Coast Guard, don’t put companies before citizens during crisis and emergencies – which is what ABC is basically trying to imply with this reporting.”