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Updated: May 22, 2010 18:18 IST

Obama orders probe to prevent future drilling disasters

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U.S. President Barack Obama. File photo: AP.
U.S. President Barack Obama. File photo: AP.

US President Barack Obama named two veteran officials on Saturday to lead a panel studying ways to prevent or mitigate future oil spills.

In his weekly radio address, Mr. Obama announced that he has formed a bipartisan National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling. Former US senator Bob Graham, a former governor of the Gulf state of Florida, and former Environmental Protection Agency chief William Reilly were appointed as co—chairmen.

The panel is tasked with regulatory reforms to improve environmental and safety precautions for offshore oil drilling, in the wake of the ongoing spill from a damaged well in the Gulf of Mexico.

Several investigations are already underway in the fatal explosion last month that sank the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and left oil spewing from the sea floor.

Mr. Obama said that the spill “has not only dealt an economic blow to Americans across the Gulf Coast, it also represents an environmental disaster”.

“Folks on the Gulf Coast — and across America — are rightly demanding swift action to clean up BP’s mess and end this ordeal,” he said. “But they’re also demanding to know how this happened in the first place, and how we can make sure it never happens again.”

Mr. Obama’s national commission is to take the results of the other probes into account, issuing a report within six months of starting its work. Five additional members are to be appointed, none of whom will be current government or elected officials.

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