Key Alarm Was Disabled on Oil Rig: Worker

Deepwater Horizon also had previously shutdown problems
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 24, 2010 7:53 AM CDT
The Deepwater Horizon oil rig operating in the Gulf of Mexico.   (AP Photo/Transocean)
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(Newser) – As deadly pockets of oil and gas raced up the Deepwater Horizon's pipes on April 20, a key emergency alarm sat intentionally disabled and silent—giving workers no warning of the impending disaster until the oil rig blew sky high, according to testimony by an engineer. When he discovered the alarm's "inhibited" status a year earlier, managers told him they "did not want people woke up at three o'clock in the morning from false alarms," Mike Williams told a federal review board yesterday.

Williams also detailed previous failures of the rig's emergency shut-down system, reports the Los Angeles Times, including one case where doors intended to stop an engine fire simply blew off when activated. Williams' testimony doesn't entirely jibe with other accounts, notes Reuters, including the chief mechanic's testimony that "several gas alarms" went off. TransOcean countered the claims in a statement: The Deepwater Horizon "had hundreds of individual fire and gas alarms, all of which were tested, in good condition, not bypassed and monitored from the bridge."

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