Congress asks the Chemical Safety Board to determine whether the same lax safety culture at BP that lead to a large oil spill in Alaska and an explosion at a Texas oil refinery, killing 15, lead likewise to the oil spill in the gulf.
In March 2007, the Chemical Safety Board investigated the root cause of a 2005 explosion at BP’s Texas City refinery that took 15 lives.
The Chemical Safety Board identified cost-cutting, a lax safety culture, and production pressures from BP executives as factors that weakened safety at the refinery, leading to the explosion.
The Chemical Safety Board also compared the refinery explosion with the massive leak at a BP pipeline in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska in 2006. CSB found striking similarities between the reported causes of the two incidents, including a focus on budgetary concerns rather than sound risk analysis.
The text of the committee’s request to the Chemical Safety Board follows.
Also listen to killed Deepwater Horizon rig workers’ wives testify before Congress.
The Honorable John S. Bresland
U.S. Chemical Safety Board
2175 K. Street, NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20037
Dear Chairman Bresland:
We are writing to request that the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) investigate the root
causes of the April 20 blowout on the Deepwater Horizon rig. Such an investigation by CSB could contribute significantly to the investigation that we are conducting in t he Energy and Commerce Committee.
We make this request because we believe CSB’ s past work on BP puts it in a unique position to address questions about BP’s safety culture and practices. In March 2007, CSB concluded an extensive investigation into the root cause of the 2005 explosion at BP’s Texas City refinery that took 15 lives.
CSB identified cost-cutting, a lax safety culture, and production pressures from BP executives as factors that weakened process safety at the refinery and led to the explosion.
CSB also compared the refinery explosion with the massive leak at a BP pipeline it controlled in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska in 2006. CSB found striking similarities between the reported causes of these two incidents, including a focus on budgetary concerns rather than sound risk analysis.
As part of your investigation, we ask that you address the following questions:
Do the circumstances and events leading up to the Deepwater Horizon explosion reflect
problems it n BP’ s corporate safety culture?
What role, if any, did cost-cutting and budgetary concerns play in BP’ s decisions about
well design and testing?
How did BP, Transocean, and other contractors apply “management of change” programs
to assess the consequences of modifications to process, technology, and equipment on the
Deepwater Horizon oil rig as well as organizational changes, including changes to
personnel, training, and budget?
Did BP provide adequate oversight of the contractors working on the well?
Can the CSB draw any parallels between the root causes of the April 20 oil rig explosion
and the causes o the 2005 BP Texas City refinery explosion?
For this investigation, we request that CSB assign the investigative team that led the BP
Texas City inquiry.
In addition, we understand that CSB evaluates incidents of significance according to ten criteria, such as death, injury, and environmental damage, and assigns each incident a score to help the Board determine whether an incident merits an investigation.
Please score the Deepwater Horizon explosion and provide the Committee with the score and scoring methodology.