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June 25, 2010

Investigation: Chemical Safety Board Will Probe BP/Deepwater Horizon Rig Explosion

Glenn Hess

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At the request of Congress, the Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) will investigate the causes of the April 20 explosion on the BP/Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

The board “intends to proceed with an investigation of the root causes of the accidental chemical release that destroyed the Deepwater Horizon rig and took the lives of 11 workers,” CSB Chairman John S. Bresland told House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) in a June 18 letter.

Earlier this month, Waxman asked CSB to examine whether the circumstances and events leading up to the accident reflect problems in BP’s corporate safety culture. He also asked the board to determine whether any parallels exist between the oil rig explosion and the 2005 explosion at BP’s Texas City, Texas, refinery that killed 15 workers (C&EN, June 14, page 35).

Bresland pledged that CSB will approach the inquiry “without any preconceptions” and conduct a thorough and objective examination of “all possible underlying factors and causes.”

The board plans to focus only on events leading up to and including the explosion. An examination of the response to the disaster and of the impact of the massive oil spill is “beyond” CSB’s resources and abilities, Bresland noted. Including the Deepwater Horizon accident, CSB currently has a record-high 21 ongoing investigations.

BP is cooperating with all government investigations, a company spokesman says.

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2011 American Chemical Society
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