By now, the whole world has taken notice of the mess that BP has caused in the Gulf of Mexico. However, this story is developing day by day, hour by hour, and minute by minute. According to a memo outlining the results of a recent internal investigation by BP, there were multiple warning signs of a valve leak nearly five hours before the deadly explosion that is now known as the Deepwater Horizon Disaster.
According to leaders of the congressional investigation into the disaster, BP’s investigation reveals “new warning signs of problems” before the explosion, including “whether proper procedures were followed for critical activities throughout the day.” BP has confirmed that the cement encasement that was supposed to the seal the well failed. BP’s investigators also stated that once the cement failed, the crew received signs of the looming disaster but “may have interpreted them incorrectly.” At this point, I do not see how anyone can reasonably argue that they interpreted the warning signs any way but correctly. According to BP, “fundamental mistakes” in reading tests of the integrity of the well may have been part of the reason that the blowout reached the level that it did.
Five hours prior to the explosion, “fluid was disappearing down the riser pipe connecting the rig to the well, suggesting a synthetic valve on top of the blowout preventer near the seafloor was leaking,” according to the internal BP memo. At this point, BP personnel conducted a series of “pressure tests” on the system – the results were “peculiar.” There was “discussion and retesting.” After a final test was viewed as “satisfactory,” the crew continued as normal. It is clear that BP was going to test until it got the result that it wanted. Once again, internal BP documents reveal the safety culture of the company – profits over people. For those of us who remember BP’s internal documents from the 2005 Texas City explosion, this is likely just the tip of the iceberg and there is surely much more to come.
Additionally, BP recently bused in 400 extra workers to Grand Isle, Louisiana during President Obama’s visit. According to Jefferson Parish Council Chairman, John Young, he saw hundreds of workers in red shirts, blue jeans, and black shrimp boots mulling around while Obama was present; however, after President Obama’s departure, “the work crews all but vanished.” According to Councilman Chris Roberts, “This is a total shame that a mockery has been made of this visit by the executives of BP…what we want to make clear [is] if they’re going to send them, then send them every day, not just of the day of the president’s visit.” BP spokesman, Mike Abendhoff, denied that this stunt was pulled “solely for publicity.” Not only does BP put profits over people, it also believes in the appearance of responsibility, rather than actually taking responsibility.