Attorney: Deepwater Horizon Managers Knew About Oil Rig Problem Before Explosion
“The rig’s on fire! I told you this was gonna happen”
Paul Joseph Watson
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Top Houston attorney Tony Buzbee says he has new evidence which indicates that Deepwater Horizon’s managers knew that the BP oil rig had major problems before its explosion on April 20, citing the eyewitness account of a crew member who rescued burning workers on the rig of a conversation between Deepwater Horizon installation manager Jimmy Harrell and someone in Houston. According to the witness, Harrell was screaming, “Are you fucking happy? Are you fucking happy? The rig’s on fire! I told you this was gonna happen.”
Harrell was talking via satellite phone and whoever was on the other end of the line was apparently trying to calm him down as the rig burned.
“I am fucking calm,” said Harrell, according to Buzbee. “You realize the rig is burning?”
A boat captain then asked Harrell to leave the bridge. Transocean have refused to confirm or deny that the conversation took place.
Buzbee is a respected lawyer with a successful history of winning cases brought against oil companies. He represents 15 rig workers along with dozens of shrimpers, seafood restaurants, and dock workers. The witness to the conversation signed a 3 page statement attesting to the fact that it took place, but refuses to be identified for fear of reprisals.
Though Harrell himself has denied allegations of a feud with BP or Transocean in public hearings, the Atlantic’s Josh Harkinson points out that there were two other witnesses who personally experienced Harrell’s problems with their safety procedures.
“Testifying before the Coast Guard and MMS panel last month, Douglas Brown, the chief mechanic on the Deepwater Horizon, said that on the morning of the day that the rig exploded Harrell had a “skirmish” over drilling procedures during a meeting with BP’s “company man,” well site leader Robert Kaluza. “I remember the company man saying this is how it’s going to be,” Brown told the panel. As Harrell was leaving the meeting, according to Brown, “He pretty much grumbled, ‘I guess that’s what we have those pincers for,’” referring to the blowout preventer on the sea floor that is supposed to be the last resort to prevent a leak in the event of an emergency. The blowout preventer failed following the explosion on the rig, causing the massive spill. (Transocean’s chief electronics technician, Mike Williams, also recalled the argument but named a different BP “company man,” BP’s top official on the rig, Donald Vidrine),” writes Harkinson.
“Other rig workers have also claimed that they were pressured by BP and their supervisors to cut corners,” adds Harkinson. “Transocean roustabout Truitt Crawford told the Coast Guard that he overheard senior management saying that BP was “taking shortcuts” by replacing drilling mud in the well with saltwater, which would have provided less weight to contain the well’s surging pressure. Transocean’s Williams told 60 Minutes that a supervisor had dismissed evidence that the well’s blowout preventer had been damaged. And workers with Halliburton, the well’s cementing contractor, had complained that BP’s use of cement “was against our best practices” and told the oil company that it would likely have “a SEVERE gas flow problem” unless the well’s casings were centered more carefully.”