Deepwater Horizon Inspections: MMS Skipped Monthly Inspections On Doomed Rig | 18Mai2010 17:35:10
The federal agency responsible for ensuring that an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico was operating safely before it exploded last month fell well short of its own policy that inspections be done at least once per month, an Associated Press investigation shows.
Since January 2005, the federal Minerals Management Service conducted at least 16 fewer inspections aboard the Deepwater Horizon than it should have under the policy, a dramatic fall from the frequency of prior years, according to the agency's records.
Under a revised statement given to the AP on Sunday, MMS officials said the last infraction aboard the rig, which blew up April 20, killing 11 and spewing millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, occurred in August 2003, not March 2007 as originally stated.
The inspection gaps and poor recordkeeping are the latest in a series of questions raised about the agency's oversight of the offshore oil drilling industry. Members of Congress and President Barack Obama have criticized what they call the cozy relationship between regulators and oil companies and have vowed to reform MMS, which both regulates the industry and collects billions in royalties from it.
Among the dubious oversight practices, the MMS has reportedly allowed hundreds of drilling plans to move forward without required permits since Obama took office. On Friday, the New York Times revealed that one of those projects lacking a permit was the Deepwater Horizon rig: