BP Dumped Toxic Chemicals In Well Before Rig Blast

In testimony at an official hearing yesterday, it emerged that BP succumbed to the temptation to exploit a loophole in environmental law and dumped 400 barrels of toxic chemicals into the Mocando well just hours before the blowout.

Leo Lindner, a drilling fluid specialist for contractor MI-Swaco gave evidence to the government panel that the quantity of chemical 'spacer' pumped into the well was roughly double the usual amount. Later, Ronnie Penton, an attorney who represents one of the rig workers, told the Washington Post that the double dose of fluid had altered the outcome of a crucial pressure test which preceded BP displacing mud in the well with sea water.

In evidence, Linder said BP had hundreds of barrels of two hazardous chemicals which under environmental regulations it was prohibited from dumping in the Gulf. The company decided to mix the two chemicals and dispose of the mix down the well. When drilling for oil, BP is exempted from strict adherence to normal environmental laws.

In earlier testimony, Stephen Bertone, chief engineer on the rig, said that after the blowout, part of the rig was covered in over an inch of "snot-like" material. That description is consistent with the outcome of a test mix of the two chemicals Linder had prepared.

The decision to combine the two chemicals was so unusual that the night before the rig blast, Lindner had made a two gallon test mix to try reassure himself about a BP specialist's advice that it was safe to do so.


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