Ooh, this gets uglier and uglier the harder one looks at this. From the Associated Press via ABC (hat tip reader Glenn Stehle):
The federal agency responsible for ensuring that an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico was operating safely before it exploded last month fell well short of its own policy that inspections be done at least once per month, an Associated Press investigation shows.
Since January 2005, the federal Minerals Management Service conducted at least 16 fewer inspections aboard the Deepwater Horizon than it should have under the policy, a dramatic fall from the frequency of prior years….
The inspection gaps and poor recordkeeping are the latest in a series of questions raised about the agency’s oversight of the offshore oil drilling industry…
Earlier AP investigations have shown that the doomed rig was allowed to operate without safety documentation required by MMS regulations for the exact disaster scenario that occurred; that the cutoff valve which failed has repeatedly broken down at other wells in the years since regulators weakened testing requirements; and that regulation is so lax that some key safety aspects on rigs are decided almost entirely by the companies doing the work…..
MMS officials offered a changing series of numbers….Even using the more favorable numbers for the most recent 64 months, 25 percent of monthly inspections were not performed.
Read the full story here.