BP’s Blowout Preventer Recovered, Could Provide Key Oil Spill Clues

BP’s failed blowout preventer was raised from the Gulf of Mexico over the weekend. The 300-ton piece of equipment is key evidence in the investiation of the massive <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/gulf_oil_spill">BP oil spill. Late Friday, the government said another blowout preventer had successfully been placed on the blown-out well.

The April 20 explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig killed 11 workers and led to 206 million gallons of oil spewing from BP’s undersea well. It occurred when a bubble of methane gas shot up into the well. It is not known why the blowout preventer didn’t work as designed and seal the well pipe on the ocean floor after the eruption.

According to the Associated Press, government investigators will take possession of the blowout preventer. BP is expected to mud and cement to plug the blown-out well for good from the bottom.

In other news, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) said today that it will use $10 million in BP funds to analyze the disaster’s potential health hazards. The so-called “Gulf Workers’ Study” will begin this fall. The study will focus on workers’ exposure to oil and dispersant products and potential health consequences, such as respiratory, neurobehavioral, carcinogenic and immunological conditions, as well as mental health concerns and other spill-related stressors.

Workers with varying levels of exposure, from those involved in oil burning and skimming to the shoreline cleaners, will be enrolled in the study. In addtion to BP’s money, the study will be paid for with a $10 million contribution from the NIH.

Finally, BP’s own report on the cause of the spill will be released this Wednesday. Last month, we reported that sources familiar with the probe said that the company’s internal investigators had found that crews aboard the Deepwater Horizon had misread a test of the well’s stability the day of the blast. Because it was misinterpreted, workers aboard the rig began replacing drilling fluid in the well with seawater, a substance that was too light to prevent natural gas that was already leaking into the well from shooting up the well pipe to the rig.

According to Bloomberg News, the 200-page internal report was compiled by a team of BP investigators led by the company’s head of safety and operations. It concludes that the oil giant bears “partial responsibility” for the Deepwater Horizon disaster. However, it also places some blame on Transocean Ltd., the owner of the doomed rig, Bloomberg said.

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