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article imageBP failed to fix a critical safety device leak before explosion

By Joan Firstenberg     Jul 20, 2010 in World
Kenner - The questions into why and how the BP oil disaster occurred are now being asked at a hearing by the Coast Guard and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement.
Both agencies holding the investigative hearing Tuesday heard from a BP well site leader, Ronald Sepulvado. The New York Times reports that he testified that he told BP officials in Houston and the Minerals Management Service in Washington, which regulates offshore drilling, that there was a leak on the control pod connected to a blowout preventer.
Sepulvado points out that he reported it days before the blast to his team leader, who should have reported it to the regulatory agencies. But the drilling continued, he says. He was not able to explain why the company did not respond to his report.
Investigators also pressed Mr. Sepulvado about two audits that found problems with other equipment on the Deepwater Horizon and the well it was drilling, including the blowout preventer, known as a BOP.
Jason Matthews, a panel member said,
“In both of those audits, it indicated that the BOP was well past its inspection date."
But when Sepulvado was asked whether he knew that the manufacturer of the blowout preventer required that the device be tested every five years, he said he did not.
Audits of the rig were conducted by BP in September 2009 and by the American Petroleum Institute in April 2010. It identified problems with the rig’s engines, ballast systems, thrusters and drilling equipment, and as a result, BP had scheduled the rig for a shipyard visit in early 2011.
More about Oil leak, Gulf, British petroleum
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