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BP turned off emergency alarms to let crew sleep

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

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

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.

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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