A US presidential panel in its final report on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill called Tuesday for an overhaul of oil industry practices and the creation of an independent safety watchdog to avoid a repeat of the disaster.
“The central lesson to be drawn from the catastrophe is that no less than an overhauling of both current industry practices and government oversight is now required,” the seven-member panel said in the report released after a six-month probe into the environmental and human disaster in the Gulf.
“To assure human safety and environmental protection, regulatory oversight of leasing, energy exploration, and production require reforms even beyond those significant reforms already initiated since the Deepwater Horizon disaster,” said the report.
Weeks after an explosion on BP’s Deepwater Horizon offshore platform killed 11 workers and set record amounts of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar broke up the federal agency that oversaw rig safety and sold leases to oil companies.
But the commission called for even tougher measures, urging in the report that the US government “create an independent agency within the Department of the Interior with enforcement authority to oversee all aspects of offshore drilling safety.”
The panel also put some of the burden on the oil industry to reach and maintain “dramatically increased” safety standards called for in the report.
“Because regulatory oversight alone will not be sufficient to ensure adequate safety, the oil and gas industry will need to take its own, unilateral steps to increase dramatically safety throughout the industry, including self-policing mechanisms that supplement governmental enforcement,” the report said.
The panel dedicated the 400-page document to the 11 men who lost their lives on the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig on April 20 last year, “in the hope that this report will help minimize the chance of another such disaster ever happening again.”