The scale of the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico might have been better contained had a safety device designed to help in situations like the one that caused the enormous mess performed properly, according to findings presented to the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday. –KA

The New York Times:

As crude oil gushes into the Gulf of Mexico at an alarming rate for the fourth week, a congressional investigation said that a safety mechanism that was supposed to seal an undersea well in the event of a sudden pressure release may have failed on April 20 because of a hydraulic leak.

Lawmakers disclosed the findings in a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce committee on Wednesday, as the White House proposed a package of legislative changes meant to help people affected by the huge oil spill and to assure that the companies involved pay more of the bill.

Angry lawmakers in Washington suggested that these elaborate cleanup plans might never have had to be enacted.

“The more I learn about this accident, the more concerned I become,” said Rep. Henry Waxman, Democrat of California, who is the chairman of the Senate committee. “This catastrophe appears to have been caused by a calamitous series of equipment and operational failures. If the largest oil and oil service companies in the world had been more careful, 11 lives might have been saved and our coastlines protected.”

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