Last night 60 Minutes broadcast a stunning report on the Deepwater Horizon disaster featuring an eyewitness account from crewmember Mike Williams and analysis from Dr. Bob Bea, a UC Berkeley engineering professor asked by the White House to help figure out what went wrong.

According to Williams, several weeks before the explosion, the blowout preventer was damaged but despite the damage, BP ordered the rig operator to ignore critical a safety measure when sealing the well. BP wanted the rig operator to seal the well without using drilling mud, a heavy liquid used to keep oil and gas from burbling up as cementers completed the seal.

According to Professor Bea, the accident would not have occurred had the drilling mud been used. Instead, BP cut corners in an attempt to save money, and now we're left with this enormous economic and ecological disaster.

You can watch part 1 of the report here, but the key section is here in part 2, starting about 2 minutes into the clip:

It gets worse: 60 Minutes reports a BP insider says he is concerned about another risky rig, the Atlantis platform. According to the insider -- whose account is confirmed by internal BP e-mails -- nearly 90% of the safety documents needed to run the platform safely hadn't been reviewed by BP. At best, BP is flying blind on the Atlantis, so this could all happen again.

One important implication of this report: BP's $75 million liability cap for economic damages does not apply if the company is guilty of willful negligence, and if last night's 60 Minutes report on the disaster is accurate, BP will certainly be on the hook for everything.

Join the discussion in Keith Pickering's recommended diary, "60 Minutes: Critical equipment damaged weeks before blowout". Update: And also in RLMiller's recommended diary, "The explosion literally rips the door from the hinges.".

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Mon May 17, 2010 at 10:00 AM PDT.

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