Today's News / Occupational Safety / Oil & Gas

The Deepwater Horizon tragedy, four years later

The death and destruction “are seared into our consciousness”

CSBFour years after an explosion on BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig killed eleven workers and caused the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) is ready to release its report into the causes of the disaster.

“The death and destruction of that day are seared in our consciousness,” said CSB Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso in a statement. “The forthcoming CSB investigation report has a singular focus: preventing such an accident from happening again.”

The CSB’s investigation is in the final stages of completion. The first two volumes of the report which will cover technical, regulatory and organizational issues, will be released at a public meeting in Houston on June 5.

Causes, regulations, industry practices

The CSB, at the request of Congress, launched an independent investigation with a broad mandate to examine not only the technical reasons that the incident occurred, but also any possible organizational and cultural causal factors, and opportunities for improving regulatory standards and industry practices to promote safe and reliable offshore energy supplies.

Although a number of reports about the incident have already gone public, the CSB says its report will explore issues that haven’t been fully covered yet, like:

  • New findings concerning the failures of a key piece of safety equipment—the blowout preventer—that was, and continues to be, relied upon as a final barrier to loss of well control.
  • An examination and comparison of the attributes of  regulatory regimes in other parts of the world to that of the existing framework and the safety regulations established in the US offshore since Macondo.
  • An in-depth analysis and discussion of needed safety improvements on a number of organizational factors, such as the industry’s approach to risk management and  corporate governance of safety management for major accident prevention, and  workforce involvement through the lifecycle of hazardous operations.

In addition to the fatalities, the blowout on April 20, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico injured many workers, who had to be airlifted to medical facilities.

Billions paid out

BP agreed to pay $2.4 billion for violations of the Clean Air Act (and could face additional penalties). Transocean, which was contracted by BP to operate the rig, agreed to pay $1.4 billion.

Moure-Eraso said the CSB examined the event from a process safety perspective, integrating fundamental safety concepts, such as the hierarchy of controls, human factors, and inherent safety into the U.S. offshore vernacular.

“While these concepts are not new in the petrochemical world or in other offshore regions around the globe, they are not as commonplace in the U.S. outer continental shelf.”

Recommendations will be included in the various volumes of the report.

Volume 1 will recount a summary of events leading up to the Macondo explosions and fire on the rig, providing descriptive information on drilling and well completion activities.

Volume 2 will present several new critical technical findings, with an emphasis on the functioning of the blowout preventer (BOP), a complex subsea system that was intended to help mitigate and prevent a loss of well control. This volume examines the failures of the BOP as a safety-critical piece of equipment and explores deficiencies in the management systems meant to ensure that the BOP was reliable and available as a barrier on April 20, 2010.

Later in the year, the board will consider Volume 3, which will delve into the role of the regulator in the oversight of the offshore industry. Finally, Volume 4 will explore several organizational and cultural factors that contributed to the incident.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to ISHN.

You must login or register in order to post a comment.

STAY CONNECTED

Facebook logo Twitter YouTubeLinkedIn Google + icon

Multimedia

Videos

Image Galleries

ASSE Safety 2014 Review

A gallery of photos from the sprawling Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, where ASSE’s annual professional development conference was held June 8-11. All photos courtesy of the American Society of Safety Engineers.

9/30/14 2:00 pm EST

Leveraging Sustainability Initiatives to Benefit Your Community and Increase Compliance

This webinar will review how General Motors' Sustainability initiatives are being leveraged to improve the community and the environment, create efficient energy programs, improve sustainability tracking, impact on processes and overall reporting and improve overall social, environmental and corporate sustainability.

ISHN Magazine

ISHN SEPTEMBER 2014 COVER

2014 September

ISHN'S September issue features a series of essay on thought leadership. Get expert advice on self-motivation, compliance and more!

Table Of Contents Subscribe

THE ISHN STORE

M:\General Shared\__AEC Store Katie Z\AEC Store\Images\ISHN\safetyfourth.jpg
Safety Engineering, 4th Edition

A practical, solutions-driven reference, Safety Engineering, 4th edition, has been completely revised and updated to reflect many of today’s issues in safety.

More Products

For Distributors Only - SEPTEMBER 2014

ISHN FDO SEPTEMBER 2014For Distributors Only is ISHN's niche brand standard-sized magazine supplement aimed at an audience of 2,000 U.S. distributors that sell safety products. Circulation only goes to distributors. CHECK OUT THE SEPTEMBER 2014 ISSUE OF FDO HERE

ishn infographics

2012 US workplace deathsCheck out ISHN's new Infographic page! Learn more about worker safety through these interactive images. CLICK HERE to view the page.