A federal board allowed to monitor testing of a key piece of Gulf oil spill evidence — the blowout preventer — demanded Thursday that the analysis stop, saying representatives of the companies that made and maintained the 300-ton device have been getting preferential and sometimes hands-on access to it...
“Given the well-publicized history of improper relationships between the former Minerals Management Service and members of the oil industry, one would have expected that extraordinary care would be taken to conduct the BOP testing above reproach,” safety board chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso said in the letter. “One would have expected an independent, second set of eyes like the CSB to be welcomed. Regrettably this has not been the case.”
The MMS was renamed the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement after two scathing reports by a federal inspector general. The reports highlighted drug use and sex among agency employees and oil and gas industry executives, and said drilling regulators accepted gifts and trips from oil and gas companies and even negotiated to go work for the industry while overseeing it.