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BP's Gulf Spill Report Shows String of Failures

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the commence-the-finger-pointing dept.

Earth 181

eldavojohn writes "News is out of BP's report on the gulf spill that shifts some of the blame on to other companies like Transocean that worked with BP in erecting the Deepwater Horizon rig. If you were affected by the spill, you might find the video, executive summary and 193-page report an interesting read. The summary outlines six or seven major failures in safety and engineering that all built up to the deaths of eleven workers and widespread contamination of the gulf. From incorrectly using seawater instead of drilling fluid to misinterpreting pressure test results, this report is just BP's side of the story as the blowout preventer has been pulled up and is still on its way to NASA where it will be analyzed by government investigators who will be able to compile their own report."

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Bad link (1)

XanC (644172) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510196)

The link points directly to an error page. I mean, it actually points to securityerrorpageredirect.jsp!

Re:Bad link (2, Interesting)

Scorch_Mechanic (1879132) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510234)

There's something inherently just about a bad summary with a bad link describing the bad behavior of a bad company.

Re:Bad link (2, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510302)

Any major disaster is at the end of a long chain of fuckups (this applies to /. stories as well of course). No doubt there's plenty of blame here - many people need to cooperate to keep the chain of fuckups going to where multiple safety and contingency systems fail.

Re:Bad link (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33510620)

Any major disaster is at the end of a long chain of fuckups (this applies to /. stories as well of course). No doubt there's plenty of blame here - many people need to cooperate to keep the chain of fuckups going to where multiple safety and contingency systems fail.

When will you people wake up and realize that they do these things on purpose to manufacture crises that they then solve for you while their buddies in business laugh all the way to the bank? It's not a conspiracy theory you dismissive unimaginative fucks. They don't give a shit about you. They don't care how much harm they cause or how much damage they do. They will happily retard the entire collective human consciousness and level of spiritual awareness if it means more money and power for them. Fat and stupid and oblivious and childish and egotistical is just how they want you to be.

You're being controlled. You're being farmed like livestock. Your masters know what's best for you. They sure as hell don't want you waking up to the reality that all the important decisions are made for you, that the Democrat vs. Republican bullshit is nothing but bickering over trivialities to give you the illusion of choice. Be a good little citizen and do your job and know your role and vote the party ticket and don't question too hard. Be an even better citizen and tell me I'm a tin-foil hatter, just like a good Catholic in the Dark Ages would have called Galileo a heretic.

Re:Bad link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33511184)

When will you people wake up and realize that they do these things on purpose to manufacture crises that they then solve for you while their buddies in business laugh all the way to the bank? It's not a conspiracy theory you dismissive unimaginative fucks. They don't give a shit about you. They don't care how much harm they cause or how much damage they do. They will happily retard the entire collective human consciousness and level of spiritual awareness if it means more money and power for them. Fat and stupid and oblivious and childish and egotistical is just how they want you to be.

You're being controlled. You're being farmed like livestock. Your masters know what's best for you. They sure as hell don't want you waking up to the reality that all the important decisions are made for you, that the Democrat vs. Republican bullshit is nothing but bickering over trivialities to give you the illusion of choice. Be a good little citizen and do your job and know your role and vote the party ticket and don't question too hard. Be an even better citizen and tell me I'm a tin-foil hatter, just like a good Catholic in the Dark Ages would have called Galileo a heretic.

Were you dropped on your head as a child?

Hurp Derp (1)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511212)

"They" aren't that smart. The only real conspiracy is the conspiracy to get people to believe that somewhere out there, there are human beings smart enough to pull off a real conspiracy. It makes people feel better to think that someone, even someone evil, has a grasp on things and is in control. Ego likes to feel that it is possible for Ego to be in control. It is not possible.

Re:Hurp Derp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33511682)

"They" aren't that smart. The only real conspiracy is the conspiracy to get people to believe that somewhere out there, there are human beings smart enough to pull off a real conspiracy. It makes people feel better to think that someone, even someone evil, has a grasp on things and is in control. Ego likes to feel that it is possible for Ego to be in control. It is not possible.

the conspirators are not really so smart. they leave evidence everywhere. it is you who are so stupid not to see it. that's why the public education system is so important to governments everywhere.

Re:Hurp Derp (1)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#33512266)

You still believe in the primacy of Ego, that a finite Ego can control the infinite universe. Ego is not in control, it is merely a link in the unbroken chain of cause and effect. Like most egotists, you seek to elevate Ego to the status of uncaused cause. It isn't. Conspiracy theories make the Ego feel good. They are masturbatory.

Sure, there may be people attempting conspiracies, but those people can not comprehend even the most basic and obvious of unintended consequences that spring up from any attempt to exert control. Conspiracies are their own undoing.

 

Re:Bad link (2, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510634)

Well, at least the summary didn't kill anybody.

TFS: The summary outlines six or seven major failures in safety and engineering

Yet nobody's in prison for negligent manslaughter. But if I'm not paying attention and run over a single person, I go to prison. Must be nice to be so rich you're above the law.

Re:Bad link (2, Insightful)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510992)

Or to be a corporation that cannot be held liable as a person can.

Re:Bad link (1)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511268)

I thought persons made the decisions at corporations. You could hold the person that made the decision responsible. Or you could actually hold the corporation itself responsible: break it up and sell it off, the corporate death penalty. We human beings made the rules we operate under right now. and we can change them.

Re:Bad link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33511398)

We human beings haven't made the rules for a long time. Corporations make the rules. And going back to your "person that made the decision"... it's a corporation, so everyone will just be pointing the finger at everyone else so that nobody can be blamed directly. And when you try to generalize it to blame the entire corporation... well, corporations make the rules and are above the rules they make to begin with... especially so if it's too big to fail (of which an oil company like this most certainly is).

So all in all, some poor-ass scapegoats at the bottom will be fired, and then we will never hear about any further charges after that.

Re:Bad link (1)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511692)

Unless I'm horribly confused, corporations are made up of people. Yes, diffusion of responsibility can make it easy for people in the corporation to lay blame elsewhere, from outside it is obvious that every decision was made by an individual or individuals.

More importantly, we are a democracy and corporations can not vote.

Re:Bad link (2, Interesting)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#33512364)

It always devolves into he said she said. Phrases come up like "that's not what I meant", "I never said that, I said...", "that's not what I heard...". It's always "nobody's fault". If you try to hold a single person responsible, it'll inevitably be the poor schlep with no actual authority who did what he was told without having enough authority to know about the other things that were don so that the action became dangerous.

The corporation, however, can be held responsible. Anywhere from surrendering years worth of profits in lieu of jail time and a supervised parole process where their internal documents are an open book to relevant watchdogs. As you point out, breakup and sell-off as substitutes for the death penalty. Needless to say, executive bonuses should be suspended for the period of any sentence. How well could they have performed if they allowed a corporate culture that lead to committing felonies?

Re:Bad link (1)

Jawnn (445279) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511824)

Or to be a corporation that cannot be held liable as a person can.

Corporate citizenship. All the rights and none of the responsibilities. Ain't it great?

Re:Bad link (1)

IrquiM (471313) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511078)

Yet nobody's in prison for negligent manslaughter. But if I'm not paying attention and run over a single person, I go to prison. Must be nice to be so rich you're above the law.

Since it all started at the bottom of the sea with the concrete, and that was a US company, they can't stuff a Brit in prison without doing the same to a couple of American companies as well.

Re:Bad link (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33510268)

The link points directly to an error page. I mean, it actually points to securityerrorpageredirect.jsp!

http://www.bp.com/sectiongenericarticle.do?categoryId=9034902&contentId=7064891 [bp.com]

Re:Bad link (5, Interesting)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510568)

This [theoildrum.com] is nice tear down of the executive summary. The Oildrum has had an excellent running commentary on the Macondo Spill. It's primarily a 'Peak Oil' site but it is done quite well. My favorite quote from some apparently ancient oil guy named 'Rockman' who's major failing in life seems to be a horrible addiction to Blue Bell ice cream:

Here's what I saw as critical aspects of the executive summary from the BP report. "Indications of influx with an increase in drill pipe pressure are discernable in real-time data from approximately 40 minutes before the rig crew took action to control the well. The rig crew's first apparent well control actions occurred after hydrocarbons were rapidly flowing to the surface. The rig crew did not recognize the influx and did not act to control the well until hydrocarbons had passed through the BOP and into the riser."



"Well control response actions failed to regain control of the well. If fluids had been diverted overboard, rather than to the MGS, there may have been more time to respond, and the consequences of the accident may have been reduced."

And a viable excuse offered: "The explosions and fire very likely disabled the emergency disconnect sequence, the primary emergency method available to the rig personnel, which was designed to seal the wellbore and disconnect the marine riser from the well.

Given a number of highly questionable decisions, BP appears to volunteer to take a few arrows themselves: "The team did not identify any single action or inaction that caused this accident. Rather, a complex and interlinked series of mechanical failures, human judgments, engineering design, operational implementation and team interfaces came together to allow the initiation and escalation of the accident. Multiple companies, work teams and circumstances were involved over time."

So BP may claim a collective blame but I go back to their lead off position: ""the crew... did not act to control the well". If you followed the debate between syn and I you can see how I take BP's report: yes...BP and others made mistakes. BUT the TO drill crew "did not act to control the well". And that lack of action allowed the kick to turn into a blow out that killed 11 hands and wrecked the GOM.

Opinions will vary, of course. And in the end there will be legal judgment rendered. But each person, including the surviving participants, will come to their own conlusions.

Summary of the Summary: BP did a bunch of stupid things, but it was TO's (Trans Ocean - the rig owner) responsibility to control the well even if BP purposely designed the rig to fail. They didn't do that. And Boom. IMHO this is not a shot across the bow of Transocean...it's an arrow aimed straight at their heart: "the crew... did not act to control the well".

Re:Bad link (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511700)

And Boom. IMHO this is not a shot across the bow of Transocean...it's an arrow aimed straight at their heart:
"the crew... did not act to control the well".

And ultimately, BP's report is going to mean fuck-all except as an attempt at short term damage control.
The Feds are going to investigate the hell out of this and that report is the one Congress will base their actions on.

Re:Bad link (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33512476)

I agree there are many things that went wrong, that probably could have been avoided on both BP and TO's side. What it all comes down to is money and the issues it has caused with the wildlife in the ocean. If you would like to help out there is some information here about How oil spills impact wildlife [thefreeresource.com] . Overall no matter which company is to blame, the fact that it took them so long to clean up and fix is appalling to everyone.

Re:Bad link (1)

SputnikPanic (927985) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510294)

Clearly anything having to do with BP is cursed to fail.

Re:Bad link (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510426)

This has happened before with BP articles....

Re:Bad link (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510848)

They must have been stress-testing the site blowout preventer by attempting to Slashdot it.

Re:Bad link (1)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511716)

Simply continuing the string of failures. Think of it as meta-humor.

no (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33510220)

just no

Queue the Libertarian Rants! (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33510228)

Wargarbl!!! REGULATION IS TO BLAME!!!! Wargarbl!!! GOVERNMENT IS EVIL!!!! Wargarbl!!! Corporations love us and want to protect us!!!! WARGAARBLE!!!! Who is John Galt!?!?!?!

Re:Queue the Libertarian Rants! (2, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510384)

Don't be a moron, libertarians don't support corporations.

Re:Queue the Libertarian Rants! (0)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510508)

> Don't be a moron, libertarians don't support corporations.

Sure they do. Don't lie to us. We can hear their Rand-ian rhetoric for ourselves. ...of course you could do the Lenningrad 2-step and claim that most libertarians aren't really libertarians or some such nonsense.

Re:Queue the Libertarian Rants! (1)

Korin43 (881732) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510868)

Sure they do. Don't question my straw man.

Big corporations are the product of government interference, they wouldn't exist at all if they weren't being assisted with subsidies, the ability to hurt people without consequences, and regulations/copyrights/patents to make sure that no one else can enter the market. Any Libertarian who supports that is a moron.

Re:Queue the Libertarian Rants! (1)

tibman (623933) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511412)

I'm not sure about that. Huge crime organizations exist and they aren't a product of government interference.. they exist in spite of it.

Re:Queue the Libertarian Rants! (2, Interesting)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511818)

Huge crime organizations exist because they take advantage of government interference. The Prohibition effectively created the market Al Capone made millions serving.

Re:Queue the Libertarian Rants! (4, Insightful)

enjerth (892959) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511240)

The libertarian principle is more like giving the least trust to those with the greatest power. It's not in support of anything except personal freedom. It just happens that you get the worst of both worlds when you introduce regulation as the government selects "qualified" individuals, such as former CEO's of industry leaders, to give regulatory power to in their given field. I wouldn't want them selecting unqualified individuals, but the qualified ones have a history of personal investment and are likely quite partial. They don't make for impartial regulators.

Such as Michael Taylor, former VP of Public Policy at Monsanto Corp. and Monsanto lobbyist, appointed to senior FDA food safety adviser. Or Roger Beachy, former president of the Danforth Plant Science Center, another branch of the Monsanto Corp., is now heading the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

You don't trust corporations, but you refuse to realize that regulation just supports more corporatism?

Your government only gives you the illusion of protection and safety. You are really on your own in this world. We'd just like to have the government acknowledge that fact.

Re:Queue the Libertarian Rants! (4, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511502)

From the Libertarian party's website:

We defend the right of individuals to form corporations, cooperatives and other types of companies based on voluntary association. We seek to divest government of all functions that can be provided by non-governmental organizations or private individuals. We oppose government subsidies to business, labor, or any other special interest. Industries should be governed by free markets.

Sure looks to me like they support them.

Complex environment, complex causes (4, Insightful)

alfredos (1694270) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510250)

It is the same with aviation accidents. Sometimes it's just an individual screwing up, but that's the exception. Usually there are multiple causes as well as contributing factors. Unfortunately that doesn't mix well with the mainstream media, which wants a three-word expanation so that they can print in big letters on page one. I have learnt that if I want to know something about a mishap in a complex environment, either I read the whole 196-page document, or it's better if I don't learn anything at all.

Re:Complex environment, complex causes (2, Informative)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510360)

It is the same with aviation accidents. Sometimes it's just an individual screwing up, but that's the exception.

No, it's the norm if not always the reason. Poke around here [ntsb.gov] and you'll see that just about all aviation accidents are because someone screwed up. The NTSB is excellent at pinpointing the failure. The most I've ever seen was an accident several years ago that had three causes: 1. bad weather, 2. improper maintenance, 3. pilot error in dealing with failure. Most of the time, it boils down to #3 - pilot error.

Re:Complex environment, complex causes (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510736)

Yeah, the NTSB always blames the pilot. Never the design or implementation details of any of the builders - who pay a lot to the NTSB.

Nice example: John Denver.

He was blamed because he failed to properly switch from one fuel tank to the other, thus depriving the engine of gas. He then crashed and died.
What *wasn't* in the NTSB report: the switch was behind him, in a tight space, and he couldn't see over his shoulder clearly enough to tell if the switch was in the proper place.

You can blame Denver, and he paid the price. But the engineer(s) who put the switch behind the pilot's seat are just as much, if not moreso, to blame.

Re:Complex environment, complex causes (3, Informative)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511466)

What *wasn't* in the NTSB report: the switch was behind him, in a tight space, and he couldn't see over his shoulder clearly enough to tell if the switch was in the proper place.

That WAS in the NTSB report, in fact Denver and a mechanic discussed it, the mechanic attempted to attach a pair of vice-grips as a workaround, and Denver said he'd use the autopilot to ensure straight-and-level if he had to mess with it in flight. He also refused a refuel stating that he'd be flying for an hour.

http://www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/GenPDF.asp?id=LAX98FA008&rpt=fa [ntsb.gov]

But the engineer(s) who put the switch behind the pilot's seat are just as much, if not moreso, to blame

Actually, the aircraft wasn't engineered that way. Someone (apparently a previous owner) modified it. Denver was aware of the modification, aware of its shortcomings, had actually made arrangements to fix it permanently, attempted a failed temporary fix with an A&P mechanic, then decided to fly it anyway without making sure both tanks were full (in fact, the A&P interviewed stated that Denver had initially tried to start the engine on a tank that might have been empty, meaning Denver's attempts to change tanks would have been in vain since he switched to the only tank with an unknown quantity of fuel left before takeoff).

Sorry, John Denver was a great singer. But the blame for the crash rests firmly on his shoulders.

This is a perfect example of a "string of failures". Someone made an ill-considered modification to an aircraft that Denver (an experienced pilot) bought. This modification made it difficult to change tanks. Denver knew about the problem, but completely failed to mitigate it by:

1. Not making sure he had enough fuel on board in his chosen primary tank for a short flight,
2. Not making sure he would be able to switch the tanks while in flight,
3. Apparently not ensuring that his alternate tank had any fuel in it at all, so even if he did manipulate the switch he may well have been switching from one empty to another,
4. Insisting on a short flight before he would be taking a trip that would give his A&P plenty of time to fix the problem and relocate the switch where it belonged.

Proper handling of ANY of the four issues above could have turned the disaster into a safe flight (or at least a case of "being down here, wishing you were up there", which isn't usually fatal like "being up there, wishing you were down here" sometimes is).

Re:Complex environment, complex causes (1)

causality (777677) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511830)

What *wasn't* in the NTSB report: the switch was behind him, in a tight space, and he couldn't see over his shoulder clearly enough to tell if the switch was in the proper place.

That WAS in the NTSB report, in fact Denver and a mechanic discussed it, the mechanic attempted to attach a pair of vice-grips as a workaround, and Denver said he'd use the autopilot to ensure straight-and-level if he had to mess with it in flight. He also refused a refuel stating that he'd be flying for an hour.

http://www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/GenPDF.asp?id=LAX98FA008&rpt=fa [ntsb.gov]

But the engineer(s) who put the switch behind the pilot's seat are just as much, if not moreso, to blame

Actually, the aircraft wasn't engineered that way. Someone (apparently a previous owner) modified it. Denver was aware of the modification, aware of its shortcomings, had actually made arrangements to fix it permanently, attempted a failed temporary fix with an A&P mechanic, then decided to fly it anyway without making sure both tanks were full (in fact, the A&P interviewed stated that Denver had initially tried to start the engine on a tank that might have been empty, meaning Denver's attempts to change tanks would have been in vain since he switched to the only tank with an unknown quantity of fuel left before takeoff).

Sorry, John Denver was a great singer. But the blame for the crash rests firmly on his shoulders.

This is a perfect example of a "string of failures". Someone made an ill-considered modification to an aircraft that Denver (an experienced pilot) bought. This modification made it difficult to change tanks. Denver knew about the problem, but completely failed to mitigate it by:

1. Not making sure he had enough fuel on board in his chosen primary tank for a short flight, 2. Not making sure he would be able to switch the tanks while in flight, 3. Apparently not ensuring that his alternate tank had any fuel in it at all, so even if he did manipulate the switch he may well have been switching from one empty to another, 4. Insisting on a short flight before he would be taking a trip that would give his A&P plenty of time to fix the problem and relocate the switch where it belonged.

Proper handling of ANY of the four issues above could have turned the disaster into a safe flight (or at least a case of "being down here, wishing you were up there", which isn't usually fatal like "being up there, wishing you were down here" sometimes is).

What's the compelling reason why these independently wealthy individuals who can afford private aviation never seem to spend a few hundred dollars on a good parachute? I don't know about you but if I am alone flying a plane and it's going to crash and there's no hope of stopping it, like it's completely out of fuel, then I'm going to take my chances with a little unplanned skydiving.

Re:Complex environment, complex causes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33511606)

That logic's a bit flawed. Going off of that, the blame is more circular.

John didn't hit switch to swap fuel tanks.
Switch was designed stupid so as to not be able to see it.
John bought and flew a plane without thinking "hmm... this potentially vital switch is in a piss-poor spot... maybe I should buy a different plane type".

If I'm test-driving a car, and the horn is located on the back-side of my headrest, you're going to be damn sure I'm not buying that car, or making them move it to a normal spot as a stipulation for me buying it. SURELY in his training and testing of the plane before or when buying it, he'd want to learn the location of... say... emergency type buttons.

So back to John not thinking that seeing this switch might be important when buying plane.
Designers didn't think this switch is important enough to be visible
Whatever organization inspects plane designs didn't catch this horrible flaw before approving it.

And yeah, at that point, it circles between designers and purchaser all not thinking. Spread the blame over all of them, not just one.

Re:Complex environment, complex causes (3, Interesting)

alfredos (1694270) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510786)

It is the same with aviation accidents. Sometimes it's just an individual screwing up, but that's the exception.

No, it's the norm if not always the reason

I agree a bit with that. But I also think that while NTSB investigation and reports are top notch, they suffer from being (unavoidably) within the same environment.

I'll give you an example. You can easily support, NTSB reports in hand, that flying by eye in meteorological conditions that are too hard for that (visual into IMC for you pilots out there) is one of the leading causes of accidents in light airplanes. That is too bad. Anybody can get some additional training and learn instrument flying. Well, if it's that easy why isn't it done in the first place? Why does not everybody get at least basic instrument training so that they can keep their act together when the shit hits the propeller? From there you can easily jump to a politics debate but keep with me for a moment. I'll give another example.

Another leading cause of light aviation accidents is loss of engine power. Now loss of power can be due to a number of reasons: You can run out of gas, for example. Or you can forget to adjust the mixture as you go up or down. Or your carburetor can get ice. There exists technology enough to eliminate or greatly reduce the danger in most of these causes. Why isn't it done? Well, firstly because a fully computerized control system for an aviation engine costs as much as a new car. Now you can argue that the pilot is putting his/her life to risk because of economical considerations, or you can look at the reasons why everything is so damned expensive in aviation. I'll leave it to you, but yes, it's as easy as it seems.

My point is that it's worth the effort to dig a bit more. You can't expect everybody to be fully proficient at everything they get into. Instead, however, helping environments become safer by promoting safe ideas, technologies, training and norms pays much more than blaming the individual and leaving it there.

Re:Complex environment, complex causes (1)

jhol13 (1087781) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510372)

The (USA) media (and probably USA justice system too) will blame almost entirely on BP.
The UK media, OTOH, will ... yeah, you got it.

This is too easy.

Re:Complex environment, complex causes (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511548)

The (USA) media (and probably USA justice system too) will blame almost entirely on BP.
The UK media, OTOH, will ... yeah, you got it.


Amoco?

Re:Complex environment, complex causes (2, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510404)

On the flip side, the multiple causes from multiple organizations frequently lead to each organization completely absolving itself by saying "well, if the other team's stuff had worked properly, there wouldn't have been a problem." While true, it also means that they will avoid fixing their piece of the problem (and do their best to avoid legal responsibility as well).

Re:Complex environment, complex causes (5, Insightful)

cgenman (325138) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510520)

Usually when you talk about complex causes, you mean that factors A, B, C, and D all interacted in unexpected ways to cause a failure, but that most of those factors on their own are basically innocuous. This can be the case in aviation, which a century out remains a tricky human endeavor.

Here, we're talking about several major failures, any one of which would be bad on their own. You can't write it off as a "complex cause" when the safety failed because it was improperly maintained, then the safety person failed because he was improperly trained, then the backup safety failed because nobody installed it, etc. The cause is very simple: cutting too many corners.

Re:Complex environment, complex causes (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511974)

Or, in short, you've done exactly what the mainstream media does - reduced the whole issue to one neat soundbite. That's great if all you want is a ritualistic Two Minutes Hate so you can get on with what's really important in your life - the next soundbite, the next meme, the next ritualistic Two Minutes hate.
 
It's not really useful for actually trying to understand what happened, and how (if possible) to fix things so that it doesn't happen again.

Re:Complex environment, complex causes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33510622)

"Learned"

String of Failures (2, Insightful)

c++0xFF (1758032) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510272)

Of course it was a string of failures. I don't care if it's an oil rig or a software bug, it usually takes more than one failure before a problem actually surfaces. It's usually a combination of physical defects, human error, and process failures ... but it takes the entire sequence to fail before something goes wrong.

The longer it takes for a problem to be discovered, the more failures probably exist in the chain. Honestly, I'd be more scared if only a couple things went wrong.

Re:String of Failures (2, Insightful)

BuckaBooBob (635108) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510514)

But Seriously... In the end it was a lack of BP's oversight to watch over everything to prevent this type of disaster.. This is probably the biggest thing that wrong with big business and politics.. There is no accountability anymore (If there ever was). This appears to be a PR Campaign to draw attention away from BP's faults.. In the end the only lesson that will be learned will be that a good PR campaign after a disaster can work wonders.

Re:String of Failures (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33510892)

Eh? BP seems to be taking the can (it's stumping up billions). Everyone else involved has been in hiding.

Re:String of Failures (1)

Chucky_M (1708842) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511332)

But Seriously... In the end it was a lack of BP's oversight to watch over everything to prevent this type of disaster.. This is probably the biggest thing that wrong with big business and politics.. There is no accountability anymore (If there ever was). This appears to be a PR Campaign to draw attention away from BP's faults.. In the end the only lesson that will be learned will be that a good PR campaign after a disaster can work wonders.

Close, it was the lack of governmental oversight, lax regulations and what seems a lot like corruption in government circles to anything related to black gold. This is why the boss man came out pointing fingers at BP before anyone knew what happened, this helped stop people looking for other causes albeit temporarily.

Re:String of Failures (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33510764)

One error, or mistake or failure is one thing, two is plain bad luck, three or more, it's no longer excusable. It's 2010, the other day I saw on TV how they checked weldings for cracks and imperfections ...

Just like Clemens... (2, Insightful)

PmanAce (1679902) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510298)

There is nothing surprising about an entity shifting the blame onto others to try and save their own asses, human nature. "From incorrectly using seawater instead of drilling fluid" I can't even imagine how dumb one must be to substitute one fluid for the other. That would be like a mechanic using gasoline instead of wiper fluid, something that you just don't do or think about, period. Even if heads roll, are oil companies going to change?

Re:Just like Clemens... (2, Informative)

The Moof (859402) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510478)

The others have already responded [msn.com] to the claims, dumping the fault right back at BP. This is going to be interesting

Seawater Vs Drilling Fluid (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510484)

"From incorrectly using seawater instead of drilling fluid" I can't even imagine how dumb one must be to substitute one fluid for the other. That would be like a mechanic using gasoline instead of wiper fluid, something that you just don't do or think about, period. Even if heads roll, are oil companies going to change?

I'm no drilling expert. I read the articles (but not the whole report) and, as the submitter, I guess I failed to explain that the articles seem to imply that at some point it's okay to switch from drilling fluid to seawater when the rig is recognized as very stable. You take readings and measurements to determine when this is safe. Apparently there were a lot of misjudgments from both Transocean and BP. You would think they would be a lot better at this by now. Sure you can outline all the pressures both companies had to make this thing that was behind schedule run flawlessly but personally I'm happy that six or seven things had to go wrong to lead to this ... I'm unhappy that it seems to be companies just pushing the process further by ignoring/misreading warning signs. Do they switch to seawater to save money?

According to the article, if they had stuck with drilling fluid instead of switching to the lighter seawater, a blowout would have been prevented. Instead they made history. Perhaps next time their gamble will be in favor of their worker's lives and the environment?

Re:Just like Clemens... (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510518)

Well "Resurfacing Lubricant" is effectively distilled water... it's purified water. "Drilling fluid" used to take pressure measurements might be purified water, which idiots might wave away because it costs money and they have tons of money.

Re:Just like Clemens... (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510524)

Switching from drilling fluid to seawater is more like using a 5% component instead of a 1% component. Fine if the situation isn't marginal, but it'll fail when things go wrong.

Did they list corruption? (3, Insightful)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510304)

You know, the sex and other perks that bought off the regulators?

Or the part where they pencilled in the report forms on behalf of the inspectors, who would then trace them over in pen?

I can see how that would slip their minds.

Re:Did they list corruption? (2, Informative)

sribe (304414) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510352)

You know, the sex and other perks that bought off the regulators?

You're confused. The sex and cocaine was in the Denver office and related to mining in the West ;-)

Re:Did they list corruption? (2, Funny)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510828)

So when they talked about "offshore drilling rights", they meant the term literally? I thought that was just a euphemism for hookers on cruise ships!

Ohhhhhhhhh (5, Funny)

Sparckus (1158609) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510332)

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea

SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS!

Who died in an oil spill because of BP

SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS!

Re:Ohhhhhhhhh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33510462)

I don't know anything about Spongebob... some weird vile creature to me... and I guess you were referencing a song in the show. I found the joke super funny anyway.

Re:Ohhhhhhhhh (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510570)

It's the theme song.

Re:Ohhhhhhhhh (1)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510812)

I don't know anything about Spongebob... some weird vile creature to me... and I guess you were referencing a song in the show. I found the joke super funny anyway.

Is that a true story?

Re:Ohhhhhhhhh (3, Funny)

IrquiM (471313) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511156)

Who died in an oil spill because of BP SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS!

Guess it wasn't as bad as I thought then....

Re:Ohhhhhhhhh (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511224)

The placement of the syllables in this always throws me off.

Who|lives|in|a |pine| ap - |ple| un- |der|the|sea
Who|died |in|an|oil |spill |be-|cause|of | B | P

</nerd>

Re:Ohhhhhhhhh (1)

ZaphDingbat (451843) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511394)

I normally pronounce "oil" as "oy-yul," making it that much harder.

Re:Ohhhhhhhhh (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511670)

Well then at least SOME good came from that catastrophe!

If the pipe doesn't fit, you must acquit (1)

Orga (1720130) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510340)

Only upside for BP for going forward. All the partners have refused to take any responsibility and I think BP will only gain as more evidence points towards other than just at themeselves.

Rebuttles (3, Informative)

Bill Dimm (463823) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510406)

No surprise, Transocean finds fault with the report [barrons.com] , as does Halliburton [barrons.com] .

Re:Rebuttles (1)

Scorch_Mechanic (1879132) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510488)

Obviously BP needs to make some re-rebuttles now. Buttles for everybody!

Re:Rebuttles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33510840)

His name's not Tuttle, it's Buttle!

obviously some bueracratic cock-up in sector 7G (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 3 years ago | (#33512212)

His name is Harry T uttle!

Re:Rebuttles (1)

Bill Dimm (463823) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510626)

Should be "rebuttals." Sorry.

Re:Rebuttles (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#33512504)

Mr. Simpson, would you care to present your rebuttal?

Translation -- We believe in teamwork! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33510418)

:)

jerk offs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33510442)

If you were affected by the spill

Or in other words, if you live on the planet earth....

there's another way to say it. (2, Insightful)

swschrad (312009) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510510)

"But Ma, everybody did it."

BP, you're still getting a spanking. you're supposed to set an example, not lead a gang.

Re:there's another way to say it. (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510566)

There is something wrong with the the disciplinary ideology of "Ma" if everyone is at fault but only one gets spanked.

Re:there's another way to say it. (4, Insightful)

Stevecrox (962208) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510648)

I read the BBC article on the spill, they hardly said that. Halliburton apparently installed sub standard concrete which should have failed inspection but was somehow passed. Transocean/BP made a number of procedural failures and and a pressure test showed the problem days before it happened and was missed by drilling crew and BP.

How does that translate to "everybody's doing it?".

Considering it was a rig owned by BP, operated by Transocean and installed by Haliburton, with parts made by dozens of other companies it would be pretty impressive if the cause was purely BP's fault.

I still think the US government lept on a bandwagon in order to install a US CEO, who amusingly was far more involved with the rig than the then CEO.

Re:there's another way to say it. (1)

Herkum01 (592704) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511214)

While the cause was not directly BP's fault, they were looking the other way while the work got done. It is not like the stumbled into these problems, they ignored them and blamed others for their lack of involvement.

Simple question, who would have been getting the oil and selling it if everything worked out? BP, so they should bare ultimate responsibility because they were going to be the ones who profited.

Re:there's another way to say it. (1)

rk2z (649358) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511572)

Correction the rig was owned by TransOcean who was contracted by BP to do the drilling and most of the employees on the rig were TransOcean employees

On a side note (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33510538)

Just to prove how NASA mission has gone astray... Why does NASA have not only the desire, expertise, or the capability to test a BOP? Since when has ocean drilling even a part of space exploration? Or any drilling for that matter? And why the FUCK is NASA the only expert around to be able to help the stranded miners? They spend all their money on everything but space exploration lately, it's no wonder their shit breaks when out in space. They spend all their money trying to be a jack of all trades.

Re:On a side note (3, Informative)

chrb (1083577) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511014)

Since when has ocean drilling even a part of space exploration? Or any drilling for that matter?

One of the anticipated problems of future space missions is that humans will need to find resources outside of the Earth environment. The amount of energy required to lift materials out of the gravity well of our planet is huge, so it makes sense to explore other options. NASA has researched laser drilling [space.com] , deep drilling Mars for water [nasa.gov] , Moon drilling [roboticsblog.org] , low energy mobile drilling [spaceref.com] etc. NASA's remit is not just shooting satellites into orbit, it is also to conduct early stage R&D for exactly this kind of stuff.

And why the FUCK is NASA the only expert around to be able to help the stranded miners?

NASA employs many experts with the skills to do detailed drilling, modelling and geologic and seismic analysis.

Why does NASA have not only the desire, expertise, or the capability to test a BOP?

Who would you rather have test it? Deep sea drilling is a tight-knit industry. I would be surprised if there were any independent testing labs for this technology.

One of the BP employee success stories? (1)

LiquidLink57 (1864484) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510552)

The guy who said, "Drill right here."

Clearly, he picked a pretty good spot.

It wasn't failure (4, Insightful)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510556)

It's company policy to forgo safety for increased profits. History is full of this. They took a gamble and got beat by a pair of deuces. But they have accountants to take care of it all. The main issue hasn't changed, and we'll be speculating on the the next disaster soon enough.

Re:It wasn't failure (1)

demachina (71715) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511636)

And after they were beat by a pair of deuces they wrote a 100+ page report that tried to shift most of the blame on to Transocean and Halliburton. This report is mostly a white wash to be used in a decade's worth of law suits and was largely discredited the second it was released. It tries to shift much of the blame on Haliburton's cement plug though Haliburton has a pretty extensive email trail showning BP demanded they do it a certain way and they strenuously warned BP there was a high risk of a dangerous gas leak if they did.

Re:It wasn't failure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33511704)

That's capitalism's policy actually. Don't blame the company!

Re:It wasn't failure (1)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511782)

I'm speculating on BP right now. It's at around $38/share, went down as low as about $35. It WAS in the 60s under the current price of oil. If/when they get past this, it's a good stock play.

Re:It wasn't failure (1)

loshwomp (468955) | more than 3 years ago | (#33512236)

I'm speculating on BP right now. It's at around $38/share, went down as low as about $35.

I think you meant to say BP hit a low of $26.75 in late June. That's a huge difference, whether you're speculating or not.

tactical nuke (1)

joe2tiger (1883232) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510628)

My comment is hindsight, but does anyone think the damage done would have been less if we utilized a tactical nuke at the site of the spill?

Re:tactical nuke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33511524)

My comment is hindsight, but does anyone think the damage done would have been less if we utilized a tactical nuke at the site of the spill?

No.

Conventional explosives are used to put out wellhead fires (by consuming available oxygen) on the surface of the earth - the only way to use explosives to seal an undersea well is to cram a big pile of explosives deep (as in thousands of feet) below the earth, so that the cavity created by the explosion is completely beneath the surface, and collapses in on itself.

Since you can't put boxcars of dynamite into such a confined space, conventional explosives are out, and nukes are an option. But...

1) You'd have to spend a long time drilling a second bore into which to put the nuke. (And unlike those 60s-70s underground nuclear tests, you'd be drilling your bore into a place with gobs of high-pressure oil and gas down there just itching to blow out, which is how you got into this mess in the first pace!)

2) You'd have to find a nuke, and the only nukes around are those that were built to be carried on airplanes or rockets and dropped or flown to their destinations. Military submarines don't go down anywhere near 5000 feet, so there's never been any need for a nuclear depth charge that can withstand that sort of pressure. So you'd probably have to do some interesting things to it to make sure it still worked with a mile or so of water pressure trying to squish it.

3) The things you'd have to do to make a nuke work at 5000 feet would probably be along the lines of putting it in a really tiny deep-sea submersible, and those kinds of things would make the bore required in step #1 pretty darn wide.

I like nukes as much as any glowing-blue-blooded American. It's a cool idea, but given the time constraints, it would probably have taken longer to solve the engineering problems posed by the nuke as it took to drill the relief wells. The right option was to work with the multitude of low-risk, high-reward options, which is what they did.

Re:tactical nuke (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511814)

Apparently it worked a couple of times for the Russians.

But, to be honest, who knows?

The nuke would have shifted the seabed, which of course is the point, since moving many tons of seabed around a hole has a net effect of filling the hole, and the shockwave would hold the oil in place long enough for a few thousand tons of stuff to settle down over the hole. So in terms of the damage done by that specific hole in the crust "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED", rent a flight suit and a carrier and instant photo op.

But that area was chosen because, well, the crust is pretty thin there. Using a tactical nuke would, in theory, be a very effective way of drilling a very large hole very fast through a thin crust. Whether that hole is desirable or not.

http://xkcd.com/748/ [xkcd.com]

Michael Bay scenario for this one:

Day one: "Bad news: We had a blowout and we're losing 5,000 barrels of oil into the ocean."
RABBLE RABBLE!

Day two: Obama authorizes the release of a tactical nuke strike, planning begins.

Day three: First CNN animation of the plan is aired.

Day eleven: BBBBBOOOOOMMMMMMM!!! And some cool videos hit the news.

Day twelve: "Good news: We filled the small hole, and stopped the 5,000 barrel per day leak." YAY! Rejoicing and self-congratulation at how clever us monkeys are.

Day thirteen: The ocean suddenly turns black over a large area.

Day fourteen: "Bad news: We made a new one the size of Rhode Island, and 50,000 barrels per SECOND are leaking out, and have been for two days now."

Day seventeen: the contamination hits the Pacific ocean after traveling across the Atlantic, hermetically sealing ocean water. Water oxygen temperatures drop, sea life starts to die, drop in evaporation shuts down cloud formation. Droughts start.

Day sixty: the water riots are over, only because the last human has died of thirst or poisoning from drinking contaminated water.

Actually, the real Michael Bay response would probably end in "Day nineteen, someone sets the worldwide ocean slick on fire, starting a spreading conflagration that consumes all oxygen in the atmosphere in a week."

Two US companies.... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33510792)

had a leading role in this disaster, along with BP.

They've refused (so far) to contribute to the disaster relief effort and let BP carry the can. No doubt their lawyers have advised them to do this, in the US its the easiest thing in the world to offload the blame onto Johnny Foreigner, by denying all culpability from the get-go.

Now we're waiting for a US Government report on failed equipment provided by one of their major contractors. Do you think the US report is going to call "Stinking Fish" on their own people? No, given the Presidential posturing during the crisis, I can see where the official finger of sole blame will point...

Snore (2, Insightful)

kenp2002 (545495) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510914)

Until people go to jail for the deaths what point or purpose does any of this mean? Wealth clearly puts a person above the law and above manslaughter charges. It's that simple. Arguing the fingerpointing is wasted energy since, regardless of the fault, no one will be held accountable. The government will take a bribe in the form of a penalty\fine and all the PEOPLE who lead to the deaths will walk free. The only time the wealthy suffer consequences is when they harm other wealthy people.

Re:Snore (1)

tibman (623933) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511580)

I'm with you. But what if the rig crew were also at fault and helped cause the disaster (like the report indicates)? I'm asking.. What if they killed themselves?

Link to New Orleans Times-Picayune story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33511450)

The Times-Picayune published a story on this subject a few days ago. Key quote: "Despite the well's orneriness, the engineers repeatedly chose to take quicker, cheaper and ultimately more dangerous actions, compared with available options. Even when they acknowledged limited risks, they seemed to consider each danger in a vacuum, never thinking the combination of bad choices would add up to a total well blowout."

http://www.nola.com/news/gulf-oil-spill/index.ssf/2010/09/5_key_human_errors_colossal_me.html

That's not the problem (2, Interesting)

kimvette (919543) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511634)

Who did what which led up to the leak is not the major issue in most people's minds, I think. Accidents can and will happen. This same type of accident will happen again sooner or later. Whether anyone involved was negligent in the construction or if it was unknown factors leading up to the explosion and leak is immaterial.

What is upsetting about the issue is that the responsibility of the response (or lack thereof) falls into the laps of both BP and the Obama administration. Here is the list of problems I see:

  * The rig operator (BP?) is supposed to have rapid response plans and technology in place should an event occur
  * BP execs sat with their thumbs up their asses trying to save money by serializing plugging attempts, instead of readying the efforts in parallel so in the event that one attempt fails the next could be engaged within hours rather than weeks
  * BP was allowed to use dispersants which take 50,000 years to break down, just to minimize the appearance of the leak. BP took advantage and released tens of thousands more gallons per day than allowed, and refused to cut back even after the EPA told them to cut back. If they had not used dispersants, the oil would have been more likely to form tarballs sooner, and bacteria/fungus that feeds on hyrocarbon compounds would have started to break it down more quickly. They ought to have let nature take its course rather than allow it to disperse and spread much faster. Now the fish in that region are going to be contaminated and who the hell knows what that will do to offspring - and children who eat that fish.
  * They fought against press coverage tooth and nail, even though photographic and video footage would help to ascertain the extent of the damage and assist in planning the next response action
  * the United States government turned it into a total clusterfuck by refusing help from the Netherlands (who have extensive experience responding rapidly to this sort of thing), refused to proactively clean the spill before it reached shore, and actively blocked the state of Louisiana from taking action. They also did much to shield BP and Haliburton by enforcing no-fly zones and restricting access by boats and to contaminated shoreline

Now, people love to slam Bush for not letting the fed jump in when Katrina hit - what they refuse to accept is that Federal law prohibits the federal government from interfering in such cases unless assistance is first requested and a state of emergency is declared, or the local government becomes incapacitated. Where Louisiana (New Orleans in particular) refused assistance, the Bush administration could hardly be blamed for not interfering. Eventually commons sense overruled the red tape and the feds stepped in even as the mayor and governor insisting they could handle it (uh, right. They blew it.). And yet, Bush is slammed for "hating black people" even though he was paralyzed by federal law and could not legally act even though the fed was mobilized to do so.

The Obama administration had jurisdiction to handle anything offshore and could have taken many steps to protect the shoreline: accept help from European nations, immediately order BP to commission more ships, at BP cost, to deploy booms and to hire skimmers, and to allow the Louisiana government to act since they were prepared to mobilize to protect their own interests. They failed at every turn and it was not a case of nonfeasance, or failing to act as the law requires, but malfeasance. The Fed went out of its way to slow down response, seemingly to protect BP and Haliburton, which greatly increased contamination. The Obama administration actively blocked action at every turn, and yet is praised for how it handled/is handling the situation? Had we accepted help from European nations, and had we allowed Louisiana to act locally, much of the shallow water marine life would have been spared this contamination.

I don't take issue with the accident, although if it is due to negligence I believe the execs at Haliburton and BP should do hard time turning big rocks into small rocks while wearing pink clothes in the hot Arizona sun [wikipedia.org] because their (alleged) malfeasance has negatively impacted the lives of millions of people dependent upon the gulf for their livelihoods.

BP is Public Enemy #1 (1)

CitizenPlusPlus (1867870) | more than 3 years ago | (#33512224)

Clearly its time to revoke BPs corporate charter!! 

193 pages (1)

DarthVain (724186) | more than 3 years ago | (#33512582)

of a big hand point blame to someone else.

Personally I am waiting for Halibuton and Transocean's reports to see how many pages they can draw point fingers on.

Whichever one is longest wins.

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