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BP Knew of Deepwater Horizon Safety Risks Almost a Year Ago

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Top kill has failed. As BP moves on to whatever it is they plan to do next, we're learning executives knew there were "serious problems and safety concerns" with the rig as early as 11 months ago, and did nothing.

Worse still, when those same executives were pressed for answers and explanations during a Friday hearing, they responded in a ominous way that I swear I've heard before, and from someone in the same region of the U.S. no less!


It was a different disaster, of course, but tell me you remember this infamous, going-down-in-history gem from President George W. Bush:

''I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees [that flooded New Orleans.]" - GWB, Good Morning America, September 1, 2005


But they totally knew, because the Army Corps of Engineers told them exactly that! And now, on Friday, we hear this bit of deja vu from BP senior drilling engineer Mark Hafle:

Though his report indicates that the company was aware of certain risks and that it made the exception, Mr. Hafle, testifying before a panel on Friday in Louisiana about the cause of the rig disaster, rejected the notion that the company had taken risks. "Nobody believed there was going to be a safety issue," Mr. Hafle told a six-member panel of Coast Guard and Minerals Management Service officials.

Emphasis mine, because everyone at BP apparently knew there were issues with this rig, and yet they continued to cut corners, some as recently as June 22.

What happened on June 22? Why, that's when Hafle, the same engineer testifying Friday, and other BP engineers wrote in an internal BP document that the metal casings used at Deepwater Horizon might collapse under high pressure. "This would certainly be a worst-case scenario," Hafle wrote. "However, I have seen it happen so know it can occur."


It gets worse. The "parade" of witnesses and testimony from Friday was somehow more damning than what we've already seen trickle out thanks to reporting by 60 Minutes and other outlets. Hit the NYT source link for the full monty, where more internal docs detail how all the the things that BP thought could go wrong with the rig did go wrong with the rig, from cement failures to blowout preventer malfunctions.

This is a mind-boggling case disaster; one that's managed to combine the worst that man and nature have to offer. Has the question changed from "how" will we stop the oil, to "will" we stop the oil? [NYT]