Daily Outrage: Rigid chain of command blocked timely action on spill 

What: Hearings and investigations are making it increasingly clear that the crew aboard BP’s doomed Deepwater Horizon were stymied from taking prompt action that could have prevented the disastrous oil spill and the explosion that killed 11.
A rigid chain of command ensured that nothing could be done without permission from offshore higher-ups.

Breakdown: Written rules required multiple people to make joint decisions about how to respond to “dangerous” levels of gas — a term that wasn’t specifically defined. Some crew members didn’t know who was in charge of starting an emergency shutdown the leaking well.

How it went wrong: A typical rule forced rig workers trying to contain a gas emergency to call two senior rig officials before being told what to do. One worker who sent out a radio distress call when she realized nobody else had done it yet was told by the captain, “I didn’t give you authority to do that.”

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Rich Bunnell

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