Monday, May 17, 2010

The Deepwater Disaster Was Preventable

An amazing story of survival on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig was presented via 60 Minutes last night and is a must see and read.

Mike Williams' story also details how the massive and unprecedented disaster which continues today to endanger the entire Gulf and likely beyond it could have been prevented, if only those in charge had paid attention to the critical mistakes which BP and Transocean made in the days and weeks before the explosion.

Down near the seabed is the blowout preventer, or BOP. It's used to seal the well shut in order to test the pressure and integrity of the well, and, in case of a blowout, it's the crew's only hope. A key component is a rubber gasket at the top called an "annular," which can close tightly around the drill pipe.

Williams says, during a test, they closed the gasket. But while it was shut tight, a crewman on deck accidentally nudged a joystick, applying hundreds of thousands of pounds of force, and moving 15 feet of drill pipe through the closed blowout preventer. Later, a man monitoring drilling fluid rising to the top made a troubling find.

"He discovered chunks of rubber in the drilling fluid. He thought it was important enough to gather this double handful of chunks of rubber and bring them into the driller shack. I recall asking the supervisor if this was out of the ordinary. And he says, 'Oh, it's no big deal.' And I thought, 'How can it be not a big deal? There's chunks of our seal now missing?"

The utter damage and destruction is flowing even as I write, and even if the enormous flood of crude oil were to be stopped at this very moment, the devastation and effects will be felt for at least a decade -- or even longer.

Driven by greed and ego, both the businesses and the MMS government officials who sanctioned the work have dealt a crippling blow to our nation and our world, from microbes upwards to nearly every form of life in the region. The Center For Public Integrity reveals that BP has willfully ignored and violated safety plans, that the problem is systemic, and despite efforts of some in government and over $90 million in fines, dozens of lives lost in fiery infernos, the company continues on a path which endangers us all.

Refinery inspection data obtained by the Center under the Freedom of Information Act for OSHA’s nationwide program and for the parallel Texas City inspection show that BP received a total of 862 citations between June 2007 and February 2010 for alleged violations at its refineries in Texas City and Toledo, Ohio.

"Of those, 760 were classified as 'egregious willful' and 69 were classified as 'willful.' Thirty of the BP citations were deemed “serious” and three were unclassified. Virtually all of the citations were for alleged violations of OSHA’s process safety management standard, a sweeping rule governing everything from storage of flammable liquids to emergency shutdown systems. BP accounted for 829 of the 851 willful violations among all refiners cited by OSHA during the period analyzed by the Center."

Speak To Power compares the disaster in the Gulf to another episode of worldwide destruction and the people who simply have no choice but to wait and see what happens. That's a real definition of horror.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:16 PM

    Capitalism run amuck. The frenzied desire to make money with disregard to human(animal), plant, earth welfare. Come on people lets slow down and do it right the first time. Drilling for oil, mining for coal in WV or Russia, or continuing to build defective cars all can be stopped by one person who tries to do the right thing. The regulators need to get off their butts put on a pair of work boots and start sticking their nose into corners where the light is not shinning.