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BP spill report: Industry, government need "significant reform"

January 7, 2011

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Washington – "Significant reform" in industry practices and government policies, including the need to improve corporate and government safety rules, is necessary to prevent future oil rig explosions, a soon-to-be-released report says.

The bipartisan National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling is expected to release its final report Jan. 11 on the April 20 explosion that killed 11 workers off the shore Louisiana.

The report found failings, missteps and oversights among all three companies involved in the Deepwater Horizon operation at the Macondo well – BP, Halliburton and Transocean – and a lack of resources, authority and technical expertise among government regulators, according to a Jan. 6 press release from the commission.

Commission co-chair and former Environmental Protection Agency administrator William K. Reilly said in the release that the tragedy was a result of a "system-wide" problem. His co-chair, former Sen. Bob Graham, agreed.

"This disaster likely would not have happened had the companies involved been guided by an unrelenting commitment to safety first," Graham said in the release. "And it likely would not have happened if the responsible governmental regulators had the capacity and will to demand world-class safety standards."

In advance of the report's release, the commission on Jan. 6 made available a full chapter (.pdf file) detailing some of the report's findings. Among the chapter's findings was the suggestion that decisions made by companies to use alternative processes to save time and money did not take into account the safety of those alternatives.

"Given the dangers of deepwater drilling, companies involved must have in place strict policies requiring rigorous analysis and proof that less-costly alternatives are in fact equally safe," the report said.

The commission was established by President Barack Obama on May 22 to investigate the causes of the oil spill, and provide recommendations to prevent future offshore drilling spills.

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