Why Did the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Happen? Lack of Common Sense

Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig on fire (AP photo courtesy Alabama Live)

This week, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board,a federal agency charged with investigating the Deepwater Horizon oil spill catastrophe back in April of 2010, expressed its opinion that many of the oil drilling companies, including BP, are relying on incorrect data when evaluating its safety drilling procedures.

Apparently, many companies involved in tapping offshore oil deposits are using individual worker safety data as cautionary markers for danger instead of more practical indicators that things have gone awry, like equipment maintenance and oil rig “near-misses.”  The board advises that these indicators should be prioritized over workman injuries, and that these instances will  give a better indicator of potential dangers.

I think this is probably correct–seems like common sense.  Although the death of eleven workers on the Deepwater Horizon–which lead to the largest oil spill in history–indicated a problem–perhaps they might have prevented the blunder had they  followed information that was more preventable, like North Sea drilling precautions requiring all offshore rigs to report ANY hydrocarbon releases.  This gives a good indication of possible explosion potentials, and would have been a better precursor to the Deepwater fiasco than the 11 charred bodies and a smoking rig.  Hindsight doesn’t prevent an accident anymore now than it did in the past.

Using common sense and advanced safety measures for something as serious as offshore deep water oil wells seems like a no-brainer to me.

Check out the Wall Street Journal article, “US Chemical Safety Board: Offshore Drillers Focus on Wrong Safety Data” to read more about it.

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