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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.
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.
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Tags: BP, Disaster, Environment, Global News, Gulf of Mexico, Tony Hayward