Oil Rig Survivors Held by Company for 40 Hours Without Contact
The owner of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, Transocean, held survivors for nearly two days after the explosion with no outside contact at all. Was it an attempt to exhaust workers so they would sign away the company's liability?
The Guardian interviews Stephen Davis, who was working on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico last month when an explosion killed 11 people and set off an environmental disaster. Davis says he and other workers, some of who jumped 60 feet down into the water, were taken to a support ship, where they were held for 40 hours. They weren't allowed any outside contact, even to call family members.
When the ship finally did move, it did not head for shore directly, stopping at two more rigs to collect and drop off engineers and coast guard crew before arriving at Port Fourchon, Louisiana.
The company was ready for the men then, with portable toilets lined up at the dock for drug tests. The men were loaded on to buses, given a change of clothing and boxes of sandwiches, and taken to a hotel in Kenner, Louisiana, where finally they were reunited with their families.
Lawyers say the isolation was deliberate and that Transocean was trying to wear the men down so they would sign statements denying that they had been hurt or that they had witnessed the explosion that destroyed the rig.
"These men are told they have to sign these statements or they can't go home," said Buzbee. "I think it's pretty callous, but I'm not surprised by it."
Davis had been awake nonstop for about 50 hours by that point. He signed. Buzbee says most of the men did.
Even though many of them did sign, the lawsuits are piling up. Davis, along with nine other survivors from the explosion, is seeking $5.5 million in damages from Transocean.