The United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans, Louisiana this week refused to grant Transocean Deepwater Drilling, Inc., owner of the Deepwater Horizon, a stay of a recent federal district court order that the company promptly turn over documents that the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has subpoenaed from the company for its investigation into the April 2010 explosion at the Macondo drilling facility in the Gulf of Mexico.
“Consumed by litigation”
In its ruling, the appeals court stated: “The injury that a stay would work upon the government and the public is clear. As we have discussed, the CSB is authorized to investigate accidental releases of hazardous substances and make recommendations to prevent future releases...Delaying the subpoenaed documents’ release would impede the accomplishment of this mission, which is of unquestionable significance to workplace and public safety. The injury to the public is compounded by the great amount of time it has taken to secure enforcement of the CSB’s subpoenas. Transocean has resisted the subpoenas for thirty-one months, of which twenty-one were consumed by litigation.
“Transocean has utterly failed to justify making the government and the public wait any longer for the CSB’s investigative report and safety recommendations.”
CSB Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso said the decision will allow the Board to move forward with its investigation.
“These documents are important for establishing facts that no other agency has investigated in detail, such as the role of human and organizational factors in the tragedy that took eleven workers' lives,” he said.
Offshore workers face ongoing hazards
“Today’s news of a blowout and fire at a gas well platform in the Gulf only underscores the ongoing hazards faced by offshore workers, and the need to ensure that the worldwide energy industry has the fullest possible understanding of the causes of the 2010 disaster.”
Moure-Eraso said it is “past high time” for Transocean to cooperate with the CSB, which includes turning over the subpoenaed documents.
“Every other company involved in this tragic accident has cooperated with the CSB investigation. Transocean must now play its part to ensure that a similar tragedy does not occur again, and accordingly I expect Transocean’s full cooperation going forward.”