KWAME HOLMAN: The committee members were far more concerned about the events that led to BP's shutdown, not the decisions they made as a result.
Michigan Democrat John Dingell asked why the pipelines weren't checked regularly for corrosion, a process that involves sending a cleaning device, called a pig, through the line.
REP. JOHN DINGELL (D), Michigan: You didn't do anything at all about increasing the number of times that you ran a pig through the line, or check to see whether the change in the quality of the oil going through the line was going to impair the capabilities of the line to resist corrosion.
Don't you have some responsibility to do a little better job of running pig through to find out what's going on?
STEVE MARSHALL: We did schedule a maintenance pig and cleaning pig run in 2005. It is my regret that that was too late.
KWAME HOLMAN: The man in charge of monitoring the level of pipeline corrosion and recommending those pig runs was Richard Woollam. He was placed on indefinite leave by British Petroleum yesterday, and invoked the Fifth Amendment today.
RICHARD WOOLLAM, Adviser For Corrosion, BP North America: I, respectfully, will not answer questions, based upon my right, under the Fifth Amendment of the United States of the Constitution.
KWAME HOLMAN: Woollam's refusal to testify angered several committee members. Democrat Ed Markey of Massachusetts cited a report claiming that Woollam's management style created an environment that discouraged employees from recommending pig runs, for fear of losing their jobs.
REP. EDWARD MARKEY: "The corrosion inspection and chemicals manager is brutal, and screams and shouts at contractors."
Mr. Marshall, given the chilled atmosphere experienced by the employees and apparent abrasive personality of its manager, would you think that this was a favorable atmosphere to recommend that BP explore other types of corrosion-detection technology, such as more frequent runs of smart pigs, which can be costly?
STEVE MARSHALL: I'm aware, certainly, of the conclusions of the report. I agree with the conclusions of the report, in terms of the abrasive nature, the intimidation. And we have taken steps to change that.
KWAME HOLMAN: BP executives told lawmakers, the company has hired a former federal judge to serve as its ombudsman and field complaints from workers about their operations.
But Committee Chairman Joe Barton said, more than minor changes were needed.
REP. JOE BARTON (R), Texas: If a company, one of the world's most successful oil companies, can't do simple basic maintenance needed to keep the Prudhoe Bay operating safely, without interruption, maybe it shouldn't operate the pipeline. Maybe we should find a way to get a different operator, through the private market sale of this pipeline, and let somebody else do it.
KWAME HOLMAN: No specific legislation is expected to come out of the congressional probe, but several more House and Senate hearings are expected in the coming weeks.