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Surprise inspections at oil rigs have dwindled in last decade

According to federal data analyzed by The Wall Street Journal, federal authorities had made no surprise inspections of deepwater oil rigs in the Gulf since 2004. Without surprise inspections, the chances of finding individual safety violations is greatly reduced. "In 2000, about one in nine inspections of deepwater facilities were unannounced, according to the Journal's analysis; by 2009, that rate had dropped to about one in 80. Meanwhile, the number of deepwater wells pumping oil and gas more than doubled over the decade to 602 from 256, according to federal data."

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