WASHINGTON, May 7 (UPI) -- Survivors of an oil rig explosion that killed 11 workers and unleashed a huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico say critical safeguards failed to operate.
Alarms intended to warn of an imminent explosion never went off, and a failsafe mechanism intended to prevent the blast and the following oil spill did not work, ABC News reported Friday.
Survivors of the Deepwater Horizon rig described a scene of confusion.
"It was chaos," Dwayne Martinez said. "Nothing went as planned, like it was supposed to."
"It was people screaming and hollerin'," another survivor, Micah Sandell, said. "I never seen nothing like that. Never."
Investigators say they are focusing on a device called a "blowout preventer" that sits on the seabed and is meant to shut off any leaks of oil or gas.
Documents show the oil industry knew for years of significant problems with the preventers, known as BOPs, ABC News said.
In 2003 one industry official wrote, "Poor BOP reliability is a common and very costly issue confronting all offshore drilling contractors," ABC reported.
Members of Congress said they plan to investigate what happened.
"We saw that this device didn't work. And there were three different backup systems, each one of them didn't work," said Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla. "And now we're suffering the consequences."