Thursday, November 18, 2010

Another Brick in the Wall for BP et al

Yesterday the National Academy of Engineering released their report* on the Deepwater Horizon blowout.  The report includes a critical appraisal of many decisions made during the period when the well was being prepared for temporary abandonment, decisions that in the aggregate decreased safety margins and increased risks.  This Washington Post article** provides a good summary of the report.

The report was written by engineers and scientists and has a certain “Just the facts, ma’am” tone.  It does not specifically address safety culture.  But we have to ask: What can one infer about a culture where the business practices don’t include “any standard practice . . . to guide the tradeoffs between cost and schedule and the safety implications of the many decisions (that is, a risk management approach).”  (p. 15)

We have had plenty to say about BP and the Deepwater Horizon accident.  Click on the BP label below to see all of our related blog entries.

*  Committee for the Analysis of Causes of the Deepwater Horizon Explosion, Fire, and Oil Spill to Identify Measures to Prevent Similar Accidents in the Future; National Academy of Engineering; National Research Council, “Interim Report on Causes of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig Blowout and Ways to Prevent Such Events” (2010).

**  D. Cappiello, “Experts: BP ignored warning signs on doomed well,” The Washington Post (Nov 17, 2010).  Given our blog’s focus on the nuclear industry, it’s worth noting that, in an interview, the committee chairman said, “the behavior leading up to the oil spill would be considered unacceptable in companies that work with nuclear power or aviation.”

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