1. Headline
  1. Headline

Text: We're sorry. The text content of this page is no longer available.

Video: Deepwater Horizon accident: What went wrong?

  1. Transcript of: Deepwater Horizon accident: What went wrong?

    BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: We have been hearing a lot over this past month about blowout preventers, which in this case, of course, didn't prevent anything, and other pieces of the puzzle that may have contributed to this enormous environmental catastrophe. Tonight, though, we want to connect the dots a little more closely in this case. Our senior investigative correspondent, Lisa Myers , got a detailed briefing from an independent expert who has studied much of the evidence so far. He has a theory about the big picture, what went wrong here and why.

    LISA MYERS reporting: Since the night of the accident, Berkeley engineering professor Bob Bea and his team of experts have been gathering evidence and interviewing those involved, giving many of them confidentiality. Bea helped lead a similar independent investigation after Hurricane Katrina on why the levees collapsed. His voice still is affected by breathing so much mold. Bea 's spoken publicly about this accident before, but now is sharing his preliminary findings for the first time with NBC News .

    Mr. BOB BEA: There is no doubt that safety was compromised.

    MYERS: Was this accident preventable?

    Mr. BEA: Yes.

    MYERS: Bea , who has five decades of experience in the oil industry, says there was a series of problems in addition to well-documented issues with the blowout preventer. His outline lists seven steps to failure, including improper design of the well itself; improper design and execution of cementing the well; missed early warning signs, including major kicks of gas; and the fateful decision to remove heavy drilling fluid called mud from the drill column. The critical decision was the one to remove that heavy mud.

    Mr. BEA: That's based on everything we know, yes.

    MYERS: Bea also says, "Drilling and well completion operations did not meet industry standards." The well was considerably behind schedule, and Bea says some of what proved to be bad decisions were designed to save time and money at the expense of safety.

    Mr. BEA: There are time pressures that are extremely intense, and there are economic pressures that are extremely intense.

    MYERS: So you saw a lot of cutting corners?

    Mr. BEA: Sure.

    MYERS: Bea says most of the blame for the accident rests with BP and the federal government, which failed to properly oversee the project.

    Mr. BEA: These are not bad people, they were just doing dumb things.

    MYERS: A BP spokesman said the company is surprised Bea has reached conclusions based on incomplete information. With so many investigations going on, BP says it will await all the evidence before further comment on the causes of this terrible accident. Lisa Myers , NBC News, Washington.

Photos: Month 4

loading photos...
  1. The Blue Dolphin, left, and the HOS Centerline, the ships supplying the mud for the static kill operation on the Helix Q4000, are seen delivering mud through hoses at the site of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Louisiana, on Aug. 3, 2010. In the background is the Development Driller III, which is drilling the primary relief well. (Gerald Herbert / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Eddie Forsythe and Don Rorabough dump a box of blue crabs onto a sorting table at B.K. Seafood in Yscloskey, La., on Aug. 3, 2010. The crabs were caught by fisherman Garet Mones. Commercial and recreational fishing has resumed, with some restrictions in areas that were closed by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. (Chuck Cook / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Sea turtle hatchlings that emerged from eggs gathered on the northern Gulf Coast of Florida are released at Playalinda Beach on the Canaveral National Seashore near Titusville, Fla., on Aug. 2, 2010. The sea turtles were born at a Kennedy Space Center incubation site, where thousands of eggs collected from Florida and Alabama beaches along the Gulf of Mexico have been sent. (Craig Rubadoux / Florida Today via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. A crab, covered with oil, walks along an oil absorbent boom near roso-cane reeds at the South Pass of the Mississippi River in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana on Aug. 1, 2010. BP is testing the well to see if it can withstand a "static kill" which would close the well permanently. (Pool / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. A boat motors through a sunset oil sheen off East Grand Terre Island, where the Gulf of Mexico meets Barataria Bay on the La. coast, on the evening of July 31. (Gerald Herbert / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Oil approaches a line of barges and boom positioned to protect East Grand Terre Island, partially seen at top right, on July 31. (Gerald Herbert / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is seen near an unprotected island in the Gulf of Mexico near Timbalier Bay, off the coast of Louisiana on Wednesday, July 28. (Gerald Herbert / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Greenpeace activists stand outside a BP gas station in London, England, on July 27 after they put up a fence to cut off access. Several dozen BP stations in London were temporarily shut down to protest the Gulf spill. (Leon Neal / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. James Wilson sells T-shirts to those arriving in Grand Isle, La., for the music festival Island Aid 2010 on July 24. (Dave Martin / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Activists covered in food coloring made to look like oil protest BP's Gulf oil spill in Mexico City on July 22. The sign at far left reads in Spanish "Petroleum kills animals." (Alexandre Meneghini / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. People in Lafayette, La., wear "Keep Drilling" tee shirts at the "Rally for Economic Survival" opposing the federal ban on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday, July 21. Supporters at the rally want President Obama to lift the moratorium immediately to protect Louisiana's jobs and economy. (Ann Heisenfelt / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. A flock of white ibis lift off from marsh grass on Dry Bread Island in St. Bernard Parish, La., July 21. Crews found about 130 dead birds and 15 live birds affected by oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on July 19 in the eastern part of the parish behind the Chandeleur Islands. (Patrick Semansky / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Kenneth Feinberg, administrator of the BP Oil Spill Victim Compensation Fund testifies during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on July 21 in Washington, D.C. The hearing was to examine the claim process for victims of the Gulf Coast oil spill. (Alex Wong / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. An American white pelican has its wings checked during a physical examination at Brookfield Zoo’s Animal Hospital by Michael Adkesson and Michael O’Neill on July 21. The bird, along with four other pelicans, was rescued from the Gulf Coast oil spill and will be placed on permanent exhibit at the zoo. (Jim Schulz / Chicago Zoological Society via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Native people of the Gwich'in Nation form a human banner on the banks of the Porcupine River near Ft. Yukon, Alaska July 21, in regard to the BP oil spill with a message to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil development. The images include a Porcupine caribou antler and a threatened Yukon River Salmon. (Camila Roy / Spectral Q via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  1. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  2. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  3. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  4. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  1. Image:
    Gerald Herbert / AP
    Above: Slideshow (15) Oil spill disaster in the Gulf - Month 4
  2. Image: Economic And Environmental Impact Of Gulf Oil Spill Deepens
    Mario Tama / Getty Images
    Slideshow (64) Oil spill disaster in the Gulf - Month 3
  3. Image: Oil Spill In The Gulf
    Digitalglobe / Getty Images Contributor
    Slideshow (81) Oil spill disaster in the Gulf - Month 2
  4. Image: Dispersed oil caught in the wake of a transport boat floats on the Gulf of Mexico
    Hans Deryk / Reuters
    Slideshow (53) Oil spill disaster in the Gulf - Month 1
  5. Image:
    Gerald Herbert / AP
    Slideshow (10) Oil spill disaster in the Gulf - Rig explosion

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

  1. Tony Dejak / AP

    Cleveland captive says she now forgives her kidnapper

    10/20/2014 6:47:02 PM +00:00 2014-10-20T18:47:02
  1. Three big expenses you'll save on this fall

    10/20/2014 1:35:24 PM +00:00 2014-10-20T13:35:24
  1. Another U.S. Ebola patient recovers at Emory

    An American doctor infected with Ebola in Sierra Leone last month has gone quietly home after spending six weeks at Emory University’s special biocontainment unit, the hospital said Monday.

    10/20/2014 8:43:47 PM +00:00 2014-10-20T20:43:47