House Panel To Hear From Oil Rig Blast Survivors

Members of the House Judiciary Committee hear from survivors of the Gulf Coast rig explosion on Thursday. They will share a table with representatives of the companies involved in the rig's operation — BP, Transocean, Halliburton and Cameron. It's the latest hearing on the oil spill aimed at trying to quantify the liability those companies face in the wake of the disaster.

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DAVID GREENE, host:

This morning members of Congress will hear from victims of the Gulf Coast oil rig explosion. They'll share a table with representatives of the companies that were working on that rig: BP, Transocean, Halliburton and Cameron. It's the latest hearing aimed at trying to quantify the liability those companies face in the wake of the disaster.

NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports.

YUKI NOGUCHI: For the first time and very publicly, explosion survivors Stephen Stone and Douglas Brown, and the father of deceased worker, Gordon Jones, will tell the House Judiciary Committee their stories. According to Judiciary Committee staffers, the survivors will testify that the issue of liability and trying to limit it was foremost on the minds of the company's executives, even in the hours after the rig exploded.

The surviving workers, all Transocean employees, were detained for hours after their rescue and urged to sign documents stating they were not injured in the accident. Transocean officials have said in previous hearings that those documents have been misrepresented as liability waivers. BP has denied its employees were asked to sign any waiver. BP's top claims officer will also testify, answering questions about how it determines which claims are legitimate.

As part of its investigation, the committee has gathered 150,000 documents. And, according to staffers, some of the evidence suggests Transocean incorporated its offshore vessel outside the U.S. to avoid stricter regulations.

Yuki Noguchi, NPR News, Washington.

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