Statement from U.S. Chemical Safety Board Chairperson Vanessa Allen Sutherland on the Anniversary of the Macondo Tragedy


Washington, DC, April 20, 2018 – Today marks the eighth anniversary of the Macondo/Deepwater Horizon oil rig incident, one of the most devastating accidents in the offshore drilling industry.  Eleven workers were killed in the resulting explosion and fire.  As we remember this anniversary, on behalf of the entire CSB, I extend our condolences to the families and colleagues of those lost.    

The CSB conducted one of its most extensive investigations which resulted in a four-volume investigation report.  The CSB examined a number of critical offshore oil and gas process safety issues that continue to be a risk in offshore drilling eight years later.  Our investigation identified failures of the blowout preventer (BOP), a safety-critical piece of equipment.  Without corrective action, these BOPs continue to be used today in both onshore and offshore drilling activities.

There remain significant deficiencies in human and organization performance that must be addressed to prevent future accidents.  Our investigation called for the revision of industry standards to incorporate process safety management concepts and major accident prevention management systems.  Offshore drilling activities are highly complex and occur in challenging conditions.  Without proper risk management, hazard analyses and worker protections, the vaguely defined safety roles for both parties can lead to increased vulnerabilities to the operation. As we found in our investigation, absent these important safeguards, the consequences can be catastrophic for workers, their families, and the environment.  

Eight years later, a number of our recommendations to Federal agencies remain unimplemented.  The workers lost and their families deserve better.   
-- End of Statement --

The CSB is an independent, non-regulatory federal agency charged with investigating serious chemical accidents. The agency's board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.
The Board does not issue citations or fines but does make safety recommendations to plants, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA. Visit our website,  For more information, contact [email protected]

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