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Feds Did Not Inspect Deepwater Enough

From a very selectively outraged Associated Press:

Federal inspections on rig not as claimed

By Justin Pritchard, Associated Press Writer Sun May 16, 2010

LOS ANGELES – The federal agency responsible for ensuring that an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico was operating safely before it exploded last month fell well short of its own policy that inspections be done at least once per month, an Associated Press investigation shows.

Since January 2005, the federal Minerals Management Service conducted at least 16 fewer inspections aboard the Deepwater Horizon than it should have under the policy, a dramatic fall from the frequency of prior years, according to the agency’s records.

Under a revised statement given to the AP on Sunday, MMS officials said the last infraction aboard the rig, which blew up April 20, killing 11 and spewing millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, occurred in August 2003, not March 2007 as originally stated.

The inspection gaps and poor recordkeeping are the latest in a series of questions raised about the agency’s oversight of the offshore oil drilling industry.

Conclusively proving that we must give more power to that federal agency.

Members of Congress and President Barack Obama have criticized what they call the cozy relationship between regulators and oil companies and have vowed to reform MMS, which both regulates the industry and collects billions in royalties from it.

To be precise, Mr. Obama and the Democrats in Congress are criticizing this relationship from ten years ago up until January 2009.

Earlier AP investigations have shown that the doomed rig was allowed to operate without safety documentation required by MMS regulations for the exact disaster scenario that occurred; that the cutoff valve which failed has repeatedly broken down at other wells in the years since regulators weakened testing requirements; and that regulation is so lax that some key safety aspects on rigs are decided almost entirely by the companies doing the work.

And, as we have previously states, the oil companies and the men on the rig would have no interest in maintaining safety on their oil wells.

The AP sought to find out how many times government safety inspectors visited the Deepwater Horizon, and what they found. In response, MMS officials offered a changing series of numbers.

At first, officials said 83 inspections had been performed since the rig arrived in the Gulf 104 months ago, in September 2001. While being questioned about the once-per-month claim, the officials subsequently revised the total up to 88 inspections. The number of more recent inspections also changed — from 26 to 48 in the 64 months since January 2005.

No explanation was given initially for the upward revisions. On Sunday, the officials said additional inspections were discovered after MMS gathered more information from a deeper examination of its databases.

Is the AP just now discovering that federal agencies tend to be corrupt and incompetent?

AP granted MMS officials anonymity because without that condition, communications staff at the Interior Department, which oversees MMS, would not have let them talk

So much for our transparent administration Mr. Obama promised us in general, and specifically in this case.

Based on the last set of numbers provided, the Deepwater Horizon was inspected 40 times during its first 40 months in the Gulf — in line with agency policy.

Even using the more favorable numbers for the most recent 64 months, 25 percent of monthly inspections were not performed. The first set of data supplied to AP represented a 59 percent shortfall in the number of inspections

In response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by AP, the agency has released copies of only three inspection reports, from Feb. 17, March 3 and April 1. According to the documents, inspectors spent two hours or less each time they visited the massive rig. Some information appeared to be "whited out," without explanation.

Why should this information require a ‘Freedom of Information Request’ in the first place?

In an e-mail to AP, an Interior Department official emphasized with italics that the MMS inspects rigs "at least once a month" when drilling is under way. Monthly inspections are an agency policy, though not required by regulation, said David Dykes, chief of the agency’s office of safety management for the Gulf region…

The strong inspection record led MMS last year to herald the Deepwater Horizon as an industry model for safety

Yes, more power for the MMS is the only answer.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, May 17th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

3 Responses to “Feds Did Not Inspect Deepwater Enough”

  1. P. Aaron says:

    QUOTE: inspectors spent two hours or less each time they visited the massive rig. Some information appeared to be “whited out,” without explanation.

    Just wait ’till these ‘professionals’ start ‘inspecting’ health conditions at our hospitals and medical facilities to determine if they are in compliance.

  2. proreason says:

    The difference between government and business is that government has the same deficiences that business has: corruption, greed, bureaucratic time wasting, inefficiencies, poor hiring practices, unclear goals and objectives………times 1000.

    Plus, government has no incentive to improve, since government doesn’t ever go out of business……which means that government, by nature, is incompetant.

  3. canary says:

    Obama is covering up the truth of the oil spill. Obama is refusing to let oil drilling experts and other oil drilling companies aid the inexperienced workers.

    Obama doesn’t want experts near the wreckage, because he doesn’t want them to figure out what went wrong. Eventually, the rig will be taken apart quickly and sold as scrap metal.

    Meanwhile Obama does stupid things like having soldiers knee deep on ocean shore, standing side by side, trying to hold up air-filters against the waves and current.

    Obama has called on recycle org.s to go around to barber shops and sweep up hair shavings to place in donated women’s pantyhose. It’s absorbs.

    They are even digging sand at the beach and hauling closer inland ward, not realizing the ocean waters will just surf up closer.

    Would be great to send prisoners & criminal illegals go there and swish the panty hose around in the water. A few guards on horses riding around with rifles, to keep them in line.

    Remember Putin refusing to allow other countries to save that submerged
    submarine where his military all suffocated. I guess to hide secrets, but at least he apologized.

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