Safety Lapses Aided Oil Disaster

Tuesday, April 26, 2011 @ 04:04 PM gHale

While the blame game continues in the Deepwater Horizon disaster last April, now it is Transocean’s turn in the barrel.

Serious safety lapses by oil rig owner and operator Transocean Ltd contributed to the massive blowout and spill with BP’s Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico, the Coast Guard said in a report on the 2010 disaster.

A Coast Guard investigation “revealed numerous systems deficiencies, and acts and omissions by Transocean and its Deepwater Horizon crew, that had an adverse impact on the ability to prevent or limit the magnitude of the disaster,” the agency said in a statement. The April 20 explosion left 11 people dead and the ensuing oil spill gushed over 200 million gallons of crude in the Gulf of Mexico.

The 288-page report found Transocean piled up “numerous deficiencies in the area of safety” in the years leading up to explosion.

A team of investigators from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement and the Coast Guard found poor maintenance of electrical equipment, bypassing of automatic shutdown systems, and lack of training of personnel for emergencies, the report said.

“These deficiencies indicate that Transocean’s failure to have an effective safety management system and instill a culture that emphasizes and ensures safety contributed to this disaster,” the Coast Guard statement said.

Transocean had numerous international safety code violations, repeated maintenance deficiencies including neglected safety inspections, and a record of safety incidents not properly investigated, the report said.

The rig operator also failed to ensure its onboard managers and crew had sufficient safety training and knowledge and were unaware of procedures for shutting down the rig in a way that could have averted an explosion, it said.

The initial report will be included as part of the final Coast Guard investigative report, scheduled for release July 27, the statement said.

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