NPR logo Oil Spill Panel Likely To Recommend Creation Of New Safety Agency


Oil Spill Panel Likely To Recommend Creation Of New Safety Agency

The President’s oil spill commission is meeting in Washington, D.C., today and Friday and it’s looking like it will recommend that the United States create a new, independent agency to oversee worker safety on offshore drilling rigs and production platforms.

The commission also may call on the oil industry to create an independent self-policing organization similar to one formed after the 1979 Three Mile Island accident.

Co-Chair William Reilly began the hearing Thursday, by taking his own industry to task (he is on leave from the board of directors of Conocco-Phillips).

Reilly, who also was head of the EPA under President George H.W. Bush, said when he was first appointed to the panel he assumed the Macondo well blowout was the result of one “rogue” company — BP — and its bad decisions. But, after four months of working on this issue, Reilly says the problems appears to be industry-wide.

“The oil and gas industry needs to embrace a new safety culture,” Reilly said. “The series of decisions that doomed Macondo evidenced a failure of management and good management could have avoided the catastrophe.”

Reilly went on to say that energy industry leaders have no excuse for failing to adopt this new safety culture.

“We are not dealing here with a sick or failing or unsuccessful industry, but with a complacent one,” said Reilly.

This likely will be the last public meeting the panel — officially known as the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling — will hold before issuing its final report with recommendations next month.

The meetings are being webcast on the commission’s site.