Once again, we are getting the message that a series of Risky Decisions Led to Oil Spill. July 25, Wash. Post.
The calamity, the evidence now suggests, was not an accident in the sense of a single unlucky or freak event, but rather an engineered catastrophe — one that followed naturally from decisions of BP managers and other oil company workers on the now-sunken rig.
The Deepwater Horizon disaster can be attributed to “an organizational culture and incentives that encourage cost-cutting and cutting of corners — that reward workers for doing it faster and cheaper, but not better,” an academic advisory panel of scientists, chaired by Univ. of CA/Berkeley professor Robert Bea,…. “We know that in a very large number of cases, the seeds for failure are sown very early in the life of a particular system — during the concept development and design phases (e.g. the design of the Macondo well). These seeds are then allowed to flourish during the operation and maintenance phases, and, with the system in a weakened or severely challenged condition, it fails,” the panel’s report states.
And there may be lessons here for anyone involved in a complex and difficult venture. People tempted fate, hoping for the best while failing to insure against the worst. They did not take care of the little things. And then the big thing — the Macondo well — didn’t take care of itself.