We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Activists in Mexico protested during the hearings by pouring black ink on their faces. Alexandre Meneghini/AP via PA
BP Oil Spill

BP turned off emergency alarms to let crew sleep

Alarms were “inhibited” the day the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded.

A TECHNICIAN who worked on BP’s ‘Deepwater Horizon’ oil rig says some safety alarms were turned off the day the rig caught fire and exploded, causing the oil leak that destroyed the Gulf of Mexico.

The alarms on the rig were commonly set to “inhibited”, he said, so that the crew could sleep through the night without being woken up by emergency lights and sirens.

Mike Williams told investigators that the rig’s operators “did not want people woke up at 3am from false alarms.”

While it can’t be known whether the alarms could have saved the lives of the 11 people killed when the explosion took place, the investigators believe a functioning alarm would have assisted efforts to evacuate the rig.

Transocean, the company which leased the rig to BP, said workers were permitted to stop alarms from going off “when one of the hundreds of local alarms activates for what could be a minor issue or a non-emergency.”

It insisted that the practice “was not a safety oversight or done as a matter of convenience.”

Williams told the six-man panel investigating the oil spill that he had survived the pre-explosion fire by jumping from the rig.

The developments came days after a BP manager who had been on board the rig shortly before the blast that Halliburton, acting as a contractor on the oil well, had warned that the blowout preventer – which failed when the explosion occured – could have been faulty.