Haphazard Firefighting Might Have Sunk BP Oil Rig

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Steve Carpinelli (202) 481-1225
Randy Barrett
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Haphazard Firefighting Might Have Sunk BP Oil Rig

WASHINGTON - The Coast Guard isn't prepared to fight an offshore oil rig fire
and is investigating whether the chaotic spraying of salt water by
private boats that rushed to the Deepwater Horizon explosion contributed
to its sinking.

Coast Guard officials told
the Center for Public Integrity that the service did not have ships in
the area equipped to combat the blaze after the BP-operated rig exploded
on April 20, leaving the work instead to a half-dozen private boats
that answered the initial distress call.

An official maritime
investigation led by Coast Guard Capt. Hung M. Nguyen in New Orleans is
examining whether the haphazard firefighting efforts - in which salt
water was sprayed across the burning platform - overran the ballast
system that kept the rig upright, changing its weight distribution, and
causing it to list.

Making matters worse, the
Coast Guard failed to put an expert in charge of the firefighting effort
as required by its own disaster manual and could not directly
communicate with the private vessels, according to testimony reviewed by
the Center.

The joint investigation by
the Coast Guard and the Interior Department is one of 10 formal
inquiries since the offshore oil well blew out, killing 11 workers and
unleashing millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico in the
worst spill in U.S. history. The disaster entered its 100th day on
Read and link to the full story of the Coast Guard BP rig firefighting effort.


The Center for Public Integrity is a nonprofit organization dedicated to producing original, responsible investigative journalism on issues of public concern. The Center is non-partisan and non-advocacy. We are committed to transparent and comprehensive reporting both in the United States and around the world.

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