Gulf of Mexico BP Oil Rig Blast: Safety Alarm Was Off

See also:

And Now: BP Plans Deep-Water Drilling Off Libya

–  Rachel Maddow: The Gulf Of Mexico Déjà Vu (Must See!)


A fire alarm on the BP oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico that exploded triggering an environmental catastrophe had been turned off, the chief electrician on the rig has alleged.

oil-rig-deepwater-horizon
The oil rig Deepwater Horizon catches fire, Port of Venice, Gulf of Mexico Photo: REX

Michael Williams told a US government investigation that the alarm – which could have detected a build-up in natural gas and closed parts of the rig – was disarmed so it would not wake people up at night.

The BP rig exploded in April, killing 11 people and triggering a leak that released tens of thousands of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Speculation was mounting on Friday that Tony Hayward, BP’s chief excutive, would stand down on Tuesday after facing increasing pressure from the board as a result of the spill.

Sky News reported that the British oil giant – which has seen £46bn wiped from its market value since the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion on April 20 which triggered the spill – may announce its chief executive’s exit as early as Tuesday, when the company is due to publish its interim results.

Mr Williams, who is suing the owners of the rig, claims that he raised his concerns about the alarm and other alleged safety failings with his managers.

“The general alarm was inhibited,” said Mr Williams, who worked for Transocean, the Geneva-based company that owned the rig. He claimed that the system had been disabled because rig managers “did not want people woken up at 3am with false alarms”.

The alarm was designed to automatically shut air vents into engine rooms. During the accident, natural gas is believed to have been sucked into the engines, causing them to speed up and explode.

Mr Williams alleged the system was a “wreck” when he started working on the rig in 2009, with many faulty detectors. He said he tried to repair it, but faced problems with malfunctioning equipment.

But on Friday, Transocean issued a statement insisting that switching off the main alarm had not jeopardised safety on the rig as there were “hundreds” of other alarms in operation.

The company said: “The general alarm configuration on the Deepwater Horizon was intentional and conforms to accepted maritime practices, including those on some Navy and Coast Guard vessels. It was not a safety oversight or done as a matter of convenience.

“The alarm system on every large maritime vessel, including the Deepwater Horizon, is zone based. The Deepwater Horizon had hundreds of individual fire and gas alarms, all of which were tested, in good condition, not bypassed and monitored from the bridge”.

Still, the claims will add to the growing pressure on BP amid alleged safety failings on the rig. But there is likely to be a dispute over whether Trans-ocean or BP should be held responsible for any failings. Transocean has declined to comment on the allegations.

Next week, BP is likely to come under further pressure over its alleged role in another scandal – the release of the Lockerbie bomber by the Scottish Executive on compassionate grounds last year.

Jack Straw, the former justice secretary, refused to attend a US Senate hearing next week on the release of the terrorist, arguing that he had “nothing to do with the decision” by the Scottish authorities.

Political leaders in Scotland also declined the invitation, asserting that they could shed no light on the senators’ key question of what role BP played in the freeing of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.

The former Libyan intelligence official was released on compassionate grounds in August, 2009, when doctors said he would probably die of prostate cancer in three months. He is still alive and could live another 10 years, doctors have said.

Mr Straw, in a letter to Senator Robert Menendez, who will chair the hearing, said: “I had absolutely nothing to do with that decision. I saw no papers about it, and was not consulted about it. Indeed I was on holiday at the time and only learnt about it from an item on the BBC News website.

“It follows from this that I do not see how I could help your Committee ‘understand several questions still lingering from this decision’.”

The refusals are likely to annoy senators, who want to complete what they regard as the missing links in the case.

Sen Menendez has said he wants to know more about the “interplay” between the Labour government in London and the Scottish Executive, and between BP and Labour in the run-up to the decision, which outraged families of the 270 victims of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988.

The oil company has admitted lobbying for a prisoner transfer agreement between London and Tripoli, which Mr Straw, then justice secretary, helped to devise. However, the agreement was not invoked to free Megrahi.

The Senate foreign relations committee appeared to perform a U-turn over plans to call Tony Blair. A letter of invitation was drafted but not sent, according to a spokesman.

By Alex Spillius and Robert Winnett in Washington
Published: 8:26PM BST 23 Jul 2010

Source: The Telegraph

More information:

Matt Simmons: BP Cap Is A Fraud – ‘It’s The Biggest Cover-Up We have Ever Seen’

Gulf Of Mexico Water Sample EXPLODES! Other Samples Prove To Be Toxic

Toxicologists: Corexit ‘Ruptures Red Blood Cells, Causes Internal Bleeding’, ‘Allows Crude Oil To Penetrate ‘Into The Cells’ and ‘Every Organ System’

BP Oil Blowout: All States Along Gulf Of Mexico Affected By Slick

U.S. Senate Traitors Block Investigative Power for Oil Spill Commission

And Now: BP admits failing to use industry risk test at any of its deepwater wells in the US

Warning To Gulf Volunteers: Almost Every Cleanup Worker From The 1989 Exxon Valdez Disaster Is Now Dead

CNN: 1st Amendment, Free Press Suspended Near Gulf Disaster Area

Gulf of Mexico Disaster: BP Slick Covers Dolphins and Whales

BP burns rare sea turtles alive, blocks efforts to save them

Matt Simmons: ‘We’re going to have to evacuate the gulf states.’

US Scientist: Methane In Gulf ‘Astonishingly High’, As Much As 1 Million Times The Normal Level

BP Plans To Dump All North Sea Assets In Dramatic Attempt To Cut Costs

BP Blocking Media Access To Workers (Video)

BP Official Admits to Damage BENEATH THE SEA FLOOR

BP Buys Search Term ‘Oil Spill’ From Google

BP CEO Tony Hayward sold £1.4 million of his shares weeks before Gulf blowout

Goldman Sachs Sold 44% Of Its BP Stock 3 Weeks Before Gulf Blowout

Feds and BP Withheld Videos Showing Massive Scope of Oil Spill

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Solution Restores Environment in Just Six Weeks

BP’s ‘brilliant’ CEO Tony Hayward clashes with scientists over deep sea oil pollution

Matt Simmons on Bloomberg: There Is A Much Larger Leak, Creating A Gigantic Plume; US Military Should Take Over And Use Nuclear Weapons to Seal The Blowout

BP’s top kill effort fails to plug Gulf oil leak

Gulf of Mexico Oil Apocalypse Creates Underwater Nightmare

Gulf of Mexico clean-up boats recalled after crews suffer health problems

Deepwater Horizon survivors were kept in seclusion after rig explosion, coerced into signing legal waivers

SPECIAL REPORT: Civil fine in Gulf spill could be $4,300 a barrel

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Health Hazards

Fishermen get severly ill from clean-up work in Gulf

NASA Images Show Oil Entering Loop Current

New NASA Image of Gulf Oil Moving Towards Atlantic Ocean

Worry That Gulf Oil Spreading Into Major Ocean Current

AP IMPACT: Fed’l Inspections on Rig Not as Claimed:

The federal agency responsible for ensuring that an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico was operating safely before it exploded last month fell well short of its own policy that inspections be done at least once per month, an Associated Press investigation shows.

Since January 2005, the federal Minerals Management Service conducted at least 16 fewer inspections aboard the Deepwater Horizon than it should have under the policy, a dramatic fall from the frequency of prior years, according to the agency’s records.

Gulf of Mexico: Scientists Find Giant Plumes of Oil as Large as 10 Miles Long, 3 Miles Wide And 300 Feet Thick in Deep Waters:

Scientists studying video of the gushing oil well have tentatively calculated that it could be flowing at a rate of 25,000 to 80,000 barrels of oil a day. The latter figure would be 3.4 million gallons a day.

Beyond Stupid: BP CEO Tony Hayward:

“The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume.”

US Oil Spill: Scientists and Fishermen Alarmed Over Chemical Dispersants:

Approximately 325,000 gallons of dispersant have been deployed so far in BP’s effort to break up the spreading oil slick before it hits the fragile Gulf coast, and over 500,000 gallons more are available.

Rig firm makes $270m profit from Gulf of Mexico oil spill

US not accepting foreign help on oil spill

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill: New NOAA Projection Map; BP’s High-Stakes Mission; And More News

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill: The Halliburton Connection:

The company acknowledged Friday that it had completed the final cementing of the oil well and pipe just 20 hours before the blowout last week.

US Oil Spill Disaster Is Now ‘Out Of Control’

Leave a Comment