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Gulf Of Mexico Oil Spill: Bureaucratic Boondoggle?

in energy, environment, louisiana, wtf

Approximate oil locations from April 25, 2010 to April 28, 2010, including forecast for April 29 * NOAA

The Star | U.S. may send in troops as Gulf oil spill worsens

A massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is even worse than believed and as the government grows concerned that the rig’s operator is ill-equipped to contain it, officials are offering a military response to try to avert a massive environmental disaster along the ecologically fragile U.S. coastline.

… But time may be running out. Not only was a third leak discovered — which government officials said is spewing five times as much oil into the water than originally estimated — but it might be closer to shore than previously known, and could have oil washing up on shore by Friday.

At the same time, there appeared to be a rift developing between BP and the Coast Guard, which is overseeing the increasingly desperate operation to contain the spill and clean it up.

Note the very troubling confluence of existing conditions, incompetence, bureaucratic bickering and environmental disaster as emphasized by me.

Seriously, people, Grow Up. Where have I heard of a horrible situation made worse when local “authorities,” late-arriving military and other responders fought like a bunch of little lipgloss-smacking schoolgirls over damage assessment and the right way to fix things? Oh yeah, Katrina and The Flood! You guys have obviously learned nothing about incident response logistics. Louisiana, why you, honey? Why is it always you?

Here’s a nice New York Times infographic that shows the movement of the oil spill and wildlife at risk.

Responsible, environmentally-sensitive hydrocarbon extraction is also something for which I moved to America. Visit a Kuwaiti beach and stick your hand into the earth of the shallows; it returns with sand and black, gooey stuff. I used to swim in those beaches a lot when I was a kid. Which explains the painful blisters that developed all over my body and the amount of heavy-duty, prescription hydrocortisone cream and antibiotics bought to treat them. Is it surprising then that you can discover the same at the beaches of Louisiana?

Update: Just in case you still don’t comprehend the impact of this oil spill or think it’s necessary collateral damage or some such garbage, Cousin Pat frames the whole disaster very eloquently, “One mechanical failure andthe entire Gulf Coast is at risk? … These aren’t the granola-crunching, tree-hugging, hippie concerns the right-wing likes to make believe. These are real, WTF happens when your drilling platform explodes and we can’t turn off the Fing pipes with existing technology.”

5 comments… add one
  • Great. Just what we needed: another type of landfall strike probability map!

  • Thanks for the link.

    Your point is well taken. I can only wonder if folks higher up the chain of command were confusing the scale of the problem based on A) early estimates of the spill volume, B) faith in the mechanical solution of turning off the wellhead or C) the natural inclination of humans facing a crisis not to believe a worst case scenario is taking place and they might be held responsible for it.

    Listening to company spokespeople the past several days, you have heard a calmness and control in many voices that has been replaced today by the deep concern and the edgy mania that preceeds panic. That kind of change only comes with the slow realization that the situation you are facing is spiraling out of control. That tells me we’re still waiting on the next shoe to drop, what will tomorrow’s news bring?

    Luckily, when the media interviews those folks doing the cleaning or working on the dome, what you hear is a calm and steady, if tired, voice telling the reporter that it WILL be cleaned up, and it CAN be done. That kind of voice comes with the determined resolution that, though the problem before you is massive, you’ve been here before.

    It is always Louisiana, after all.

  • As in the case of Katrina & The Flood, downplaying the damage is not as important as assuming the worst and overpreparing for it. If it’s not as bad as the Coast Guard says it is, so be it. But, if it is, a lot more than you is screwed.

    “calm and steady, if tired … it WILL be cleaned up, and it CAN be done”

    Godspeed.

    Also, just marked as spam this erudite comment: HOW MEANY OIL RIG’S ARE THERE IN THE GULF OF MEXICO ?? 50 OIL RIG’S, 100 OIL RIG’S 200 RIG,S HOW MEANY ??? THIS WAS JUST ONE OIL RIG.

    a) ALL CAPS MUCH?
    b) 200 rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. Evidently, this person has a firm grasp of the global oil & gas business.
    c) This one oil rig caused this much damage, fool. The more you drill, especially at increasingly high-risk deepwater prospects, the more care you have to take, not less. “It was an accident” doesn’t cut it anymore.
    d) Meany. Yeah.

  • This whole thing is just making me physically ill.

    Thanks for, as usual, some of the most insightful writing on the situation I have yet seen.

    Miss you loads.

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