Saturday, June 5, 2010
Captain Smith meet Captain Kuchta
Watching testimony of one Captain Curt Kuchta yesterday he's the captain of the now infamous Deepwater Horizon rig. I picked my jaw off the floor when he testified that he didn't know if any of the visitors to the rig (that would be BP execs and Haliburton mucky mucks) had been given safety training. He also said he didn't know if there was safety training documentation or if there was where it would be located. And the captain had worked on the rig for nearly two years? Call me stupid but isn't that one of the most important aspects of a very dangerous job? Any job I've ever been on from the largest to even a one day job requires a safety meeting before one tool is put in motion. I don't know about his profession but I can't start a job until all the workers show copies of their certifications, their physicals and respirator fit tests. After that they sign an attendance sheet a safety meeting sheet and if they're going into the hot zone or containment an entry log. Some sites it can take two hours just to go through all the formalities if there are multiple contractors. It almost feels like you're buying a car or house but it's all there for a reason. So that everybody gets to go home in one piece.
Digging through maritime law last night was of no great help other than it says that those injured have a right to medical treatment and must be paid until they are (can't remember the exact wording) functional? Then today I remembered that this is covered by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. In checking the OPA I find that the max that the federal government can hit BP with is $350 million but the states can impose their own penalties per the following section: §1018(a) The Clean Water Act does not preempt State Law. States may impose additional liability (including unlimited liability), funding mechanisms, requirements for removal actions, and fines and penalties for responsible parties.
So all the state governors who are whining about the feds not taking over better get busy and do their homework and tell BP to start doing a better job because the ball is in their court if they know it or not. Typical republicans don't bother to read and follow the laws that are passed. Now come to find out that all the federal judges down there are recusing themselves because they have family members tied to BP or other oil companies. Great, guess it's time to get the state legislatures in gear and start laying down their own law. Oops I forgot that's how these guys got the jobs they have, with the help of oil money. Can't bite the hand that feeds you now can you boys?