Yesterday, the U.S. government announced that the epic BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was caused by a faulty underwater blowout preventer and the subsequent failure of the attached cutting device’s ability to shear and seal the leaking oil well. The cutting device was off-kilter and allowed oil to leak out at an alarming rate, a forensic study says.

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The blind shear rams (cutting devices) are designed to close and seal a well, preventing leakage, but the Deepwater Horizon’s were not able to close completely because the actual drill pipe was out of alignment and buckled. Situated far out of reach on the sea floor, the well gushed oil for weeks.

Cameron International, the manufacturer of the blow out preventer, saw a decline in its company’s stock after the incident, and a further 2 % stoop since the report yesterday. But Congressman Edward Markey does not hold the blowout preventer completely to blame. He compares a blowout preventer to an air bag- it can help deter damage in the case of an incident, but should not be relied upon to prevent accidents all together.

Further forensic examinations will be made, whose findings will be announced at public hearings held by the Interior Department and the Coast Guard in New Orleans in early April. Representative Markey hopes these findings will spur the oil industry to enact stricter safety and inspection guidelines in the future.

Via Scientific American

Photos by Wikimedia Commons