Cash strapped investigators
CSB’s acceptance comes more than two weeks after Waxman invited it to investigate the 20 April incident. Bresland had previously said it was his “desire” for CSB to facilitate the request, however he warned it needed time to consider the proposal since it may have been too short staffed to take on the gargantuan task.
Today Bresland reminded Waxman that it had a “record-high” number of cases it was investigating, but that it would prioritise this work over other cases, even taking such “extraordinary measures” as expediting ongoing major explosion investigations at Kleen Energy Connecticut, which resulted in six fatalities in February, and the 2009 four-fatality explosion at food maker ConAgra’s Slim Jim plant in North Carolina.
Smaller investigations would be put on hold, while others would be terminated, said Bresland.
The CSB recently gave the current BP incident a score of 4.8, putting it on par with the 2005 Texas explosion, which was the highest on its database. The ConAgra and Kleen Energy incidents were given scores respectively of 2.9 and 2.7.
CSB still faces huge challenges, the first being that it is unlikely to have in-house offshore drilling expertise since it has not to date investigated a ship or rig incident, but also because the worksite is on the seabed.
On top of this, CSB warned that it will likely face huge costs in conducting the investigation. It has already tapped its US$847,000 “emergency investigative fund”, however this falls well short of the $2.5 million it cost to investigate the BP Texas City explosion.
“The new BP/Transocean investigation presents in many respects an even higher level of cost and complexity,” said Bresland.