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Court Rules Chemical Safety Board Can Investigate Offshore Accidents

In April 2010, an explosion occurred in the Gulf of Mexico on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig while working on the Macondo exploration well for BP. As a result of the explosion, 11 people tragically lost their lives and numerous other individuals suffered injuries. The explosion and subsequent fire on the rig lasted for 36 hours before it finally sank and released hydrocarbons into the Gulf of Mexico.

BP has directly stated that the accident involved “a well integrity failure, followed by a loss of hydrostatic control of the well….followed by a failure to control the flow from the well with the blowout preventer (BOP) equipment….” Admittedly, the BOP emergency functions failed to seal the well after the first explosions. In short, the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon could have been prevented and happened as a result of gross negligence on the part of the rig’s owner Transocean, as well as its operator, BP.

Chemical Safety Board Has Been Investigating the Offshore Explosion

Since the accident and spill, the Chemical Safety Board has been engaged in efforts to investigate the causes of the explosions on the Deepwater Horizon rig. Specifically, the Chemical Safety Board has been looking into the offshore rig contractor Transocean’s involvement in the accident. In 2011, the Board began investigating Transocean. The Board had to sue in a federal Texas court to compel Transocean to hand over thousands of pages of subpoenaed documents.

Transocean claimed that the Board lacked jurisdiction to investigate accidents involving moving vessels and oil spills. Conversely, the government claimed the Board did have jurisdiction because the equipment being investigated was stationary and it was not investigating the oil spill, but the cause of the explosion. A U.S. District judge agreed with the government and ordered Transocean to turn over thousands of documents. Recently, a three-judge court of appeal panel upheld the lower court’s ruling and the jurisdiction of the Board to investigate the accident.

The ruling is important because it paves the way for the Chemical Safety Board to investigate other incidents of offshore chemical accidents. It remains to be seen if Transocean will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. The Board has released half of its report regarding the investigation of the accident. The final part of the report is under internal review and could be released this year.

Contact Zehl & Associates’ Texas Offshore Rig Explosion Attorneys

Zehl & Associates’ Texas offshore rig explosion attorneys have extensive experience helping victims obtain compensation for their injuries. In particular, in just the past five years, our rig explosion lawyers have recovered over $1 Billion in verdicts and settlements. Our Texas offshore rig explosion attorneys have represented five workers injured in the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a platform explosion or offshore accident, Zehl & Associates’ attorneys can help. Contact one Zehl & Associates’ offshore rig explosion lawyers today for a free consultation and case evaluation. You can call us at 1-888-603-3636.