More No-Show Witnesses in Oil Rig Explosion Probe

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Federal officials have had a difficult time getting BP and Transoecan witnesses to testify before hearings held in New Orleans that are designed to determine the causes of the Deepwater Horizon accident in the Gulf of Mexico.

To date, nine witnesses have cancelled or postponed their appearances before the panel run by the U.S. Coast Guard and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement. Among those avoiding testifying are Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine, two BP employees who were in charge of the oil rig before it exploded. Kaluza has refused to speak for fear of incriminating himself, and Vidrine cited health problems when he cancelled his appearance.
Four Transocean blowout preventer supervisors also refused to appear. A blowout preventer is a safety device that failed on the Deepwater Horizon.
One witness who did provide testimony was Ronald Sepulvado, a BP well site leader, who told the government the blowout preventer at the bottom of the gulf was leaking weeks before the explosion on April 20. BP was supposed to stop drilling at that point, but it did not, according to Sepulvado.
The Coast Guard is planning to hold its next hearings in Houston, where many witnesses who were on the rig at the time of the explosion live—and within jurisdiction of a district court if government officials decide to subpoena them.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
BP Kept Drilling After Report of Leak, Worker Says (by Robbie Brown, New York Times)


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