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Safety Board Has Offshore Authority

by Jeff Johnson
April 8, 2013 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 91, Issue 14

Credit: U.S. Coast Guard
A judge says CSB has clear authority to investigate offshore chemical accidents.
Photo shows fire boat response crews battling the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon April 21, 2010. Multiple Coast Guard helicopters, planes, and cutters responded to rescue the Deepwater Horizon's 126 person crew.
Credit: U.S. Coast Guard
A judge says CSB has clear authority to investigate offshore chemical accidents.

The Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) has authority to investigate offshore oil and gas drilling and production accidents under a decision reached by a federal district court judge on March 30. CSB’s offshore jurisdiction was challenged by Transocean Deepwater Drilling Co. when CSB issued five subpoenas to obtain information from the company during its investigation of the BP Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. Transocean, the rig owner and operator, claimed the board lacked authority to investigate the April 2010 accident. But U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal disagreed, saying CSB has such authority. Although CSB issued a draft report on the accident last summer, the board will now assess material gathered through the subpoenas, CSB says. The new material includes records from Transocean’s internal accident investigation as well as company information denied to CSB but supplied to a host of federal agencies investigating the accident. Transocean is considering whether to appeal the decision and would not comment.


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