US court backs Chemical Safety Board’s right to probe offshore disasters

Houston: A ruling by a US appeals court has confirmed the authority of the US Chemical Safety Board to probe the causes of offshore spills such as the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Drilling firm Transocean Deepwater Drilling had challenged the board’s right to investigate the April 2010 tragedy in which the rig exploded, 11 men died and millions of barrels of oil spilled into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

But Thursday’s ruling by the full US Court of Appeals for the Fifth District, which covers Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas (all with Gulf coastlines), upheld a September decision by a three-judge panel of the same appeals court.

The Chemical Safety Board’s investigators are still looking into Deepwater incident which happened at BP’s Macondo well and board members claim their inquiry has found causes for the blowout that other probes had not found.

This dispute arose in 2011 when the board sued Transocean in federal court for declining to hand over thousands of pages of documents the board had subpoenaed.

Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.
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