Chemical Safety Board to investigate Macondo blow-out

Federal body calls for more rigorous accident prevention. Computer modeling of BOP underway.

Two years on, the US Chemical Safety Board’s (CSB) investigation into the 2010 Macondo well blowout is progressing, despite delays due to legal issues surrounding ongoing court actions. The CSB, an independent federal agency, has so far found a need for companies and regulators to institute better major accident prevention. The US onshore process safety requirements are more rigorous and apply both to operators and key contractors.

One issue under investigation is the regulation of ‘human factors.’ CSB investigator Cheryl MacKenzie observed ‘There are no human factors standards or regulations in US offshore drilling that focus on major accident prevention. As an example, we are investigating whether fatigue was a factor in this accident. Transocean’s rig workers, originally working 14-day shifts, had been required to go to 21-day shifts on board.’

The CSB investigation is also using computer modeling of the BOP to evaluate deficiencies such as lack of safety barrier reliability requirements, inadequate hazard analysis for evaluating BOP design, and insufficient management of change requirements for hazard control. Recommendations for reforms are due for release in August. CSB Western Regional Office manager Don Holmstrom heads-up the investigation. More from the Chemical Safety Board.

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