In the moments before the Deepwater Horizon blew skyward, rig workers came extraordinarily close to averting disaster, reports the Wall Street Journal in a closer look at BP's internal report on the Gulf oil spill. Contrary to popular belief, as the well failed, the blowout preventer was both deployed and functioned, temporarily sealing the well. But workers made two critical mistakes: They activated the blowout preventer after gas had already blown past it, then diverted the gas through the rig, instead of dumping it overboard—giving it the chance to ignite.
Workers "were just so close to this being the topic of a training video," says an expert. Nevertheless, others note that the report seems like an attempt by BP to focus blame on rig workers' decisions just before the explosion—standard operating procedure was in fact to divert gas through the rig, but the quantity overwhelmed the system—rather than executive decisions in the months leading up to it. "The entire report throws the drill crew under the bus," says the lawyer for one of the 11 workers killed.