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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Congressional oil disaster hearings under way

WASHINGTON -- The first congressional hearing into the BP oil disaster has just begun. The goal is to establish a "thorough factual record and informed decision of the very important questions presented by the disaster," said Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Bingaman likened the situation to the Titanic and the Challenger explosion, saying it is likely there was a "cascade" of human, mechanical and regulatory failure that caused the 11 deaths and ongoing oil spill.

Fireworks are expected. In prepared testimony, BP America Chairman Lamar McKay blames a Transocean blowout protector that did not work. "That was to be the fail-safe in case of an accident," he said.

Another committee takes up the issue this afternoon. Florida Sen. Bill Nelson will testify.

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[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 11:36am]

    

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