Fed panel: Oil spill evidence tests need to stop

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal board allowed to monitor the testing of a key piece of Gulf oil spill evidence — the blowout preventer — is demanding that the analysis stop until representatives of the companies that made and maintained the device are removed from the process.

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board said in a letter Thursday that having the companies involved hands-on in the forensic analysis that began more than a month ago undermines the investigation’s credibility.

However, while Cameron and Transocean officials are among a small army of representatives allowed to watch and consult, they are not involved in the actual testing. That’s being done by a Norwegian firm.

The board said it also wants that firm terminated or at least supervised by a neutral third-party.

The safety board investigates serious chemical accidents. It had previously agreed to the current test protocols.

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