Report: Gulf Rig Workers Had Big Safety Concerns

A confidential survey of Deepwater Horizon workers carried out just weeks before the Gulf oil rig burst into flames and sparked America's worst-ever environmental disaster shows grave concerns about safety practices and standards, Special Section: Gulf Coast Oil DisasterThe Times says 26 components or systems were listed in the report as being in "bad" or "poor" condition."Run it, break it, fix it… That's how they work," said one Transocean rig worker in summarizing the BP and Transocean management teams' philosophy. In one of the most damning statements from the confidential employee survey, the newspaper says one worker expressed concern that the poor condition of rig equipment was, "a result of drilling priorities taking precedence over planned maintenance."The Times report is not the first time BP, which leases the Deepwater Horizon rig from Transocean, has been accused of putting profits ahead of safety - a charge company managers vehemently deny. BP Was Told of Safety Issues on Another Rig BP, Transocean Accused of Negligence in SpillA Deepwater Horizon worker told the BBC last month that he warned BP and its partners weeks ahead of the catastrophic explosion in the Gulf that a crucial piece of hardware on the sea floor was leaking.

Tyrone Benton, who operates underwater robots that do the actual work on the complex, giant machinery a mile underwater, said one of the robot's cameras spotted a leak on a control pod of the blowout preventer (BOP).

The BOP is essentially the emergency shutoff valve fixed permanently to a wellhead on the seafloor. The Deepwater Horizon's BOP was as tall as a house and the control pods, of which this rig had at least two, are the brains of the machinery - a combination of mechanics and electronics.

He said his supervisors told BP and the company in charge of the BOP, Transocean, and their management teams made the decision to shut down the leaking control pod and rely solely on another, meant as backup.

"They have a control room where they could turn off that pod and turn on the other one, so that they don't have to stop production," Benton told the BBC.

One expert on ocean oil drilling from the University of Texas called the decision to keep the BOP operating after the discovery of the leak "unacceptable."
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