Feds aren't inspecting 4 in 10 higher-risk wells

NEW CASTLE, Colo. (AP) — Four in 10 new oil and gas wells near national forests and fragile watersheds or otherwise identified as higher pollution risks escape federal inspection, unchecked by an agency struggling to keep pace with America's drilling boom, according to an Associated Press review that shows wide state-by-state disparities in safety checks.

Roughly half or more of wells on federal and Indian lands weren't checked in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, despite potential harm that has led to efforts in some communities to ban new drilling.

In New Castle, a tiny Colorado River valley community, homeowners expressed chagrin at the large number of uninspected wells, many on federal land, that dot the steep hillsides and rocky landscape. Like elsewhere in the West, water is a precious commodity in this Colorado town, and some residents worry about the potential health hazards of any leaks from wells and drilling.


2 die in crash of chopper approaching Gulf oil platform: Westwind Helicopters

Houston Chronicle

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating Wednesday’s crash of a helicopter approaching an oil platform south of Houma, La., in which Westwind Helicopters said two men were killed, the Houston Chronicle reports.


California unprepared for oil-by-rail surge, agencies say


A report from California's government says the state's agencies are ill-prepared to oversee inspections and respond to emergencies related to a current surge in oil shipments by rail, Bloomberg reports.


States object to oil train secrecy

The Associated Press

Several railroads being required to turn over details of their oil train shipments are asking states to keep the information secret, but The Associated Press reports that six have declined: Wisconsin, Montana, Illinois, North Dakota, Idaho and Washington.


Oil train classroom-on-rails trains responders

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A rolling classroom on rails, complete with four tanker cars and a flatbed rigged with a variety of valves and fittings, made a whistle stop Thursday at the Port of Albany as part of a multi-state tour providing enhanced safety training to first responders in light of increased shipments of North Dakota crude oil.

The railroad is conducting a three-day training program at Albany's Hudson River port before taking its Safety Train to other cities along a route through Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.


CSB: Oil drilling risks remain from blowout preventer woes

WASHINGTON (AP) — The key last-ditch safety device that failed to prevent the 2010 BP oil spill remains a potentially catastrophic problem today for some offshore drilling, according to a federal safety board investigation.

The report issued Thursday by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board details the multiple failures and improper testing of the blowout preventer and blames bad management and operations for the breakdown. They found faulty wiring, a dead battery and a bent pipe in the hulking device.

"The problems with this blowout preventer were worse than we understood," safety board managing director Daniel Horowitz said in an interview. "And there are still hazards out there that need to be improved if we are to prevent this from happening again."

Ideum Photo

Safety board faults key device in BP oil spill

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal investigative board concludes that the last-ditch safety device that didn't stop the 2010 BP oil spill had multiple failures, wasn't tested properly and still poses a risk for many rigs drilling today.

The report issued Thursday by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board zeroes in on what went wrong with the blowout preventer and blames bad management and operations. And that, they said, led to the dumping of 172 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Investigators have long known that the device failed. But safety board managing director Daniel Horowitz says the problems were worse than officials had figured and are potentially still a problem for some active rigs now.

The massive blowout preventers use multiple mechanisms to choke off the oil flow.


Ship pilot: Didn't see tug in crash until too late

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) — The pilot guiding a freighter into the foggy Houston Ship Channel when it crashed into an oil-filled barge earlier this year says he did not see the barge until it was too late to avoid a collision.

The tugboat captain said earlier Tuesday at a federal hearing investigating the accident that the larger vessel increased its speed and she couldn't maneuver quickly to avoid the crash.

The pilot says he needed the speed to navigate strong currents.


Doubts raised over accuracy of Bakken crude assurances


There are problems with industry reports claiming that existing safety standards are enough to regulate Bakken crude being shipped by rail, officials and lawmakers, including Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said Monday, Reuters reports.


TransCanada: No link between mandates and welding issues, but pledges more safety work


TransCanada may have taken issue with an AP report that linked new mandates to welding problems on the southern leg of its Keystone pipeline, but the company is promising to implement a number of additional measures in response to a third party engineering analysis of pipeline safety risks, E&E reports.


Subscribe to Safety