"Washington and Gulfport, Miss. -- While oil and gas companies have pushed the frontiers of offshore drilling into deeper, more dangerous waters over the last decade, their government watchdogs stayed behind in the shallows, clinging to long-standing practices and failing to plan for new hazards, according to scores of federal documents and interviews with government officials and outside auditors.
So when the Deepwater Horizon barge, leased by BP, exploded April 20 and 5,000 barrels of oil started flowing daily into the Gulf of Mexico, neither the oil companies nor their regulators in the Interior Department were ready.
There was no written protocol, no history of drills to simulate a disaster anywhere close to this size. Interior analysts had calculated that the chances of any spill exceeding 1,000 barrels were 3% to 5%. There are no records to suggest anyone had seriously considered the possibility of such a nightmare coming true."