Saturday, July 24, 2010

Alarm Was Disabled Before BP Blast

"A critical alarm system that should have warned workers of danger aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig had been disabled before the rig erupted into flames on April 20, the vessel's chief electrician testified Friday at a federal hearing into the accident.

Michael Williams, an employee of Transocean Ltd., the company that owned the rig, said the general alarm system aboard the Deepwater Horizon had been "inhibited." It was intended to automatically sound an alarm warning workers to move immediately out of harm's way.

But Mr. Williams said the automatic system had been switched off because Transocean rig managers "did not want people woken up at 3 a.m. with false alarms." Instead, the rig-wide alarm had to be triggered manually—and never sounded.

Many workers aboard the rig said that they had no advance notice there was a serious problem with the well until after a surge of natural gas set off the first of two massive explosions. Eleven workers died before the rig sank and unleashed the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

Mr. Williams, who filed a lawsuit against Transocean in federal court in New Orleans on April 29, said he voiced concerns about the alarm system to his supervisors. He was testifying Friday at a hearing in Kenner, La. which is being conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement." More>>>>

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