(Photo by me and the sysop via Flickr.)

Via Lindsay Beyerstein, the Guardian reports today:

Vital warning systems on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig were switched off at the time of the explosion in order to spare workers being woken by false alarms, a federal investigation has heard.

The revelation that alarm systems on the rig at the centre of the disaster were disabled – and that key safety mechanisms had also consciously been switched off – came in testimony by a chief technician working for Transocean, the drilling company that owned the rig.

. . . Sensors monitoring conditions on the rig and in the Macondo oil well beneath it were still working, but the computer had been instructed not to trigger any alarms in case of adverse readings.

. . . [the Transocean technician] said he discovered that the physical alarm system had been disabled a full year before the disaster. When he asked why, he said he was told that the view from even the most senior Transocean official on the rig had been that “they did not want people woken up at three o’clock in the morning due to false alarms“.

As Lindsay notes, “BP/Transocean’s concern for rig workers is touching”… and I’m sure the workers who died in the Deepwater Horizon explosion would be quick to express their gratitude if they weren’t, well, otherwise engaged at the moment.

If this reminds you of the corruption of debt ratings prior to the financial-industry meltdown two years ago, “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.,” the “stovepiping” of intelligence prior to the invasion of Iraq, and… well, almost everything else that has gone wrong during the last decade or so, there’s probably a reason.  Not wanting to hear bad news turns into refusing to hear bad news, which… inevitably, turns into bad news.