From Truthout.org's newsletter today:
Text from the video link:The sources and documents featured in a Truthout report by Jason Leopold demonstrate the very real possibility of a new, bigger disaster at a BP drill site. Experts say that a rupture at the Deepwater Atlantis drill site could be potentially 30 times as catastrophic as the ongoing Deepwater Horizon catastrophe. Our report spread around the Internet and made it to the news desks of one of the most influential news programs on television, "60 Minutes."
"60 Minutes" picked it up yesterday and made it a centerpiece of their show. Whistleblower Ken Abott can be seen talking about this issue about seven minutes into the "60 Minutes" video here.
This week Congress continues its investigation, but Capitol Hill has not heard from the man "60 Minutes" correspondent Scott Pelley met: Mike Williams, one of the last crewmembers to escape the inferno.
He says the destruction of the Deepwater Horizon had been building for weeks in a series of mishaps.
Williams says there was trouble from the start - getting to the oil was taking too long. Williams said they were told it would take 21 days; according to him, it actually took six weeks. With the schedule slipping, Williams says a BP manager ordered a faster pace.
"And he requested to the driller, 'Hey, let's bump it up. Let's bump it up.' And what he was talking about there is he's bumping up the rate of penetration. How fast the drill bit is going down," Williams said.
Williams says going faster caused the bottom of the well to split open, swallowing tools and that drilling fluid called "mud." "We actually got stuck. And we got stuck so bad we had to send tools down into the drill pipe and sever the pipe," Williams explained. That well was abandoned and Deepwater Horizon had to drill a new route to the oil. It cost BP more than two weeks and millions of dollars.
when drilling resumed, Williams says there was an accident on the rig that has not been reported before. He says, four weeks before the explosion, the rig's most vital piece of safety equipment was damaged.
Down near the seabed is the blowout preventer, or BOP. It's used to seal the well shut in order to test the pressure and integrity of the well, and, in case of a blowout, it's the crew's only hope. A key component is a rubber gasket at the top called an "annular," which can close tightly around the drill pipe.
Williams says, during a test, they closed the gasket. But while it was shut tight, a crewman on deck accidentally nudged a joystick, applying hundreds of thousands of pounds of force, and moving 15 feet of drill pipe through the closed blowout preventer. Later, a man monitoring drilling fluid rising to the top made a troubling find.
"He discovered chunks of rubber in the drilling fluid. He thought it was important enough to gather this double handful of chunks of rubber and bring them into the driller shack. I recall asking the supervisor if this was out of the ordinary. And he says, 'Oh, it's no big deal.' And I thought, 'How can it be not a big deal? There's chunks of our seal is now missing,'" Williams told Pelley.
And, Williams says, he knew about another problem with the blowout preventer.
The BOP is operated from the surface by wires connected to two control pods; one is a back-up. Williams says one pod lost some of its function weeks before.
Transocean tells us the BOP was tested by remote control after these incidents and passed. But nearly a mile below, there was no way to know how much damage there was or whether the pod was unreliable.
In the hours before the disaster, Deepwater Horizon's work was nearly done. All that was left was to seal the well closed. The oil would be pumped out by another rig later. Williams says, that during a safety meeting, the manager for the rig owner, Transocean, was explaining how they were going to close the well when the manager from BP interrupted.
"I had the BP company man sitting directly beside me. And he literally perked up and said 'Well my process is different. And I think we're gonna do it this way.' And they kind of lined out how he thought it should go that day. So there was short of a chest-bumping kind of deal. The communication seemed to break down as to who was ultimately in charge," Williams said.
On the day of the accident, several BP managers were on the Deepwater Horizon for a ceremony to congratulate the crew for seven years without an injury.Williams says that, on the bridge, he watched them try to activate emergency systems. "The BOP that was supposed to protect us and keep us from the blowout obviously had failed. And now, the emergency disconnect to get us away from this fuel source has failed. We have no communications to the BOP," he explained.Deepwater Horizon's Blowout, Part 1 - 60 Minutes - CBS NewsThe spill has cost BP about $500 million so far. But consider, in just the first three months this year, BP made profits of $6 billion.
There are plenty of accusations to go around that BP pressed for speed, Halliburton's cement plugs failed, and Transocean damaged the blowout preventer. Through all the red flags, they pressed ahead. It was, after all, the Deepwater Horizon, the world record holder, celebrated as among the safest in the fleet.
"Men lost their lives," survivor Mike Williams told Pelley. "I don't know how else to say it. All the things that they told us could never happen happened."
If this is all true, Halliburton's cement plugs may have failed because of BP's decision to not fill the tube with mud. If this is all true I think BP will be on the hook for a lot more than that $75 million cap if this is determined to be negligence.