Oil Rig Mechanic: Managers Argued Before Blast Just hours before a deadly explosion unleashed an unprecedented oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, managers on the drilling rig had a dispute about how work would proceed, according to testimony from the rig's chief mechanic. And that testimony has raised questions about whether BP was under pressure to move on to another well.
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Oil Rig Mechanic: Managers Argued Before Blast

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Oil Rig Mechanic: Managers Argued Before Blast

Oil Rig Mechanic: Managers Argued Before Blast

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DAVID GREENE, Host:

NPR's Pam Fessler reports.

PAM FESSLER: Chief mechanic Douglas Brown told federal investigators meeting outside New Orleans yesterday that he attended a daily meeting of rig managers the day of the explosion. He said he didn't follow all the details that closely, but he did notice one thing.

DOUGLAS BROWN: I recall a skirmish taking place between the company man, the OIM, and the tool pusher and driller concerning the events of the day. The driller was outlining what was going to be taking place, whereupon the company man stood up and said, no, we have some changes to that.

FESSLER: Brown was asked by Jason Mathews of the Minerals Management Service if there wasn't a mechanism that would automatically shut down the engines if they went too fast. Brown said that there was.

JASON MATHEWS: Did those safety devices work?

BROWN: I do not think so, no.

MATHEWS: Is there any type of safety device on an air-intake system that would prevent gas to flow into the engine control room (unintelligible)?

BROWN: Yes.

MATHEWS: In your opinion, did those function properly?

BROWN: No.

FESSLER: He asked Steve Tink, a top health and safety official with BP, how the company balanced rig efficiency and safety when it had to pay such large amounts.

STEVE TINK: The safest operations are the most efficient operations, so we think they go hand in hand. So if you have a safe operation, you have an efficient operation, that's the fundamental philosophy.

FESSLER: Pam Fessler, NPR News, New Orleans.

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