Yes, owner of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, you do have to cooperate with the federal government’s investigation into the 2010 explosion and oil spill. The rest of us would like to see how such disasters could be avoided in the future.
That was the message sent by a U.S. Court of Appeals to Transocean, the world’s largest offshore drilling company, ordering it to finally turn over long-sought documents to the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB).
Transocean has been appealing some of CSB’s subpoenas, arguing that the board lacks the authority to probe the disaster. CSB investigates industrial accidents, but Transocean says the rig explosion is outside the board’s purview partly because the rig was not a “stationary source.”
But the company was sharply rebuked by a three-judge panel for that reckless intransigence. From The Louisiana Record:
Transocean is currently appealing the CSB’s authority to investigate the matter.
The appeals court denied Transocean’s request for a stay under its claim that the CSB had abused its discretion and it ordered Transocean to turn over the subpoenaed information.
“Transocean has identified no particular interest in the subpoenaed documents,” the appeals court ruling states. “If this is true, then we find it remarkable that Transocean has resisted the CSB’s subpoenas for approximately thirty-one months, and continues to resist them on appeal.”
The court’s decision also made the point that the appeal concerning the CSB’s authority may take years to decide, whereas the information required by the CSB is needed immediately to prevent another hazardous situation from occurring.
To spend three years obstructing a federal probe into the Deepwater Horizon accident may seem unconscionable, but, then, this is the oil-drilling industry that we’re talking about.