Once it became apparent that the BP oil spill would result in billions of dollars in damages and lost wages, not to mention the deaths of 11 rig workers, politicians and activists alike vowed that punishment would be swift.
Yet, almost 7 months after the initial explosion of the Deepwater Horizon the White House oil spill commission still can’t decide whether profit-motivated decisions by BP, Transocean, and Halliburton (the three companies responsible for the rig) are really at fault for the disaster.
Among the commission’s preliminary findings, released on Monday, was that there was “no evidence at this time to suggest that there was a conscious decision to sacrifice safety concerns to save money” (BBC).
During his presentation, the panel’s chief investigator Frank Bartlit even went so far as to say that he agreed with 90 percent of BP’s conclusions about the disaster, namely that there was never a time when, presented with both safety risks and costs, decisions were made to give up safety to save money.
Fortunately, investigators, witness and panel members called before the White House oil spill commission told a much different tale.
Just 24 hours after Bartlit’s presentation, testimony before the commission demonstrated that “BP was hurried and could have operated more safely if it had taken time to acquire necessary material and kit” (BBC).
“There appeared to be a rush to completion of the Macondo well and one has to ask where the drive came from that made people determine they couldn’t wait for sound cement or the right centralisers,” said Mr. Bill Reilly, co-chair of the Commission.
“There was not a culture of safety on that rig,” Reilly said.
Despite Bartlit’s pro-BP challenges, Mr. Reilly called for “top-to-bottom reform” at the companies involved in the well, and chastised them for a “sweep of bad decisions.”
Whether that will actually happen remains to be seen.
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