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2010 BP Oil Spill Hearing; Recommendations From the CSB

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Two years later, what the CSB learned and how it and the industry have changed.

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MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL It was in April 2010 that 11 men died and 17 were injured as a result of BP's (BP) explosion off the Gulf of Mexico. Yet it is now, in July 2012, that the Chemical Safety Board ("CSB") will be holding a public hearing in Houston, Texas, regarding 2010's explosion.

"The explosion broke the wellhead a mile beneath the surface of the Gulf, releasing about 4.9 million barrels of crude oil, the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry," said an article on ENS.

The Deepwater Horizon incident, named after the drilling platform, was one of the country's worst oil spills to date, and there has been intense speculation as to why it happened. According to an article on fuelfix.com, the culprit is not BP alone, but all drillers: "The Chemical Safety Board is set to conclude that the offshore drilling sector's focus on monitoring individual worker injuries - while ignoring bigger warning signs of 'process safety' problems that could lead to emergencies - set the stage for the Deepwater Horizon disaster."

Yet while the CSB is meant to investigate industrial accidents, it is not allowed to punish. Instead, the CSB is only allowed to make "safety recommendations to plants, labor groups, and regulators," and does not have the authority to do more than request changes.

Between the time of the 2010 spill and the present, CSB has made many recommendations of changes that will better track or predict larger scale accidents before the event occurs. Many of these reflect that, ironically, the CSB concludes that the CSB itself was a part of the problem. Specifically, it says it needs to move the agency's focus away from personal injuries so that the drillers will also move their attention away from personal injuries and toward a broader picture.

And it appears that changes have been made in-line with the refined focus of the CSB. Some of the new recommendations that BP has adopted, or is in the process of adopting include several of these broad-picture concerns such as "systems for tracking spills, gas leaks, maintenance of safety equipment, and times when devices are pushed beyond safe operating limits."

The CSB hearings will publicize the changes the agency and the drilling industry have made since the Deepwater Horizon incident.

According to the Environment News Service, "CSB Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso said, 'The CSB's public hearing will provide a unique opportunity for safety experts from around the world to share information and discuss the most advanced work in the area of safety performance indicators for major accident prevention in high-hazard industries.'"

The public hearing will take place from July 23-24, in Houston, Texas. It is free and open to the public, but it requires prior registration.
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