05/14/2010 03:45 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Mike Mason, Oil Industry Whistlebower, Describes Cheating On Blowout Preventer Safety Tests (VIDEO)

A man is bound to see some strange things working for 18 years on Alaskan oil rigs.

According to Mike Mason, it wasn't unusual to see cheating on safety tests designed to prevent the kind of environmental disaster now wreaking havoc in the Gulf of Mexico.

After telling the Huffington Post that he observed cheating on blowout preventer tests at least 100 times (including on many wells owned by BP), Mason appeared on "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" to explain what the tests are and how oil companies may be getting around them. He suggested that cheating could have happened up to half of the time in Alaska, estimating that state inspectors were on hand to ensure proper protocol for the other half.

"If there's no inspector there, they just fake it," Olbermann summarized.

Mason, who was fired by a drilling company in 2006 after he spoke out against oil business practices, had harsh words for his former industry. "I believe that the regulation commissions up here are in the oil fields' back pocket," he said. "They don't have the strength to follow through with the regulations. Pretty much they let the oil fields write the procedures in the first place."

While Mason couldn't speak to specific incidents that may have happened in the Gulf, he added, "It's a culture that's within BP and other drilling contractors."