BP's 52-page exploration plan for the Deepwater Horizon well, filed with the federal Minerals Management Service, says repeatedly that it was "unlikely that an accidental surface or subsurface oil spill would occur from the proposed activities."
And while the company conceded that a spill would impact beaches, wildlife refuges and wilderness areas, it argued that "due to the distance to shore (48 miles) and the response capabilities that would be implemented, no significant adverse impacts are expected."
Robert Wiygul, an Ocean Springs, Miss.-based environmental lawyer and board member for the Gulf Restoration Network, said he doesn't see anything in the document that suggests BP addressed the kind of technology needed to control a spill at that depth of water.
"The point is, if you're going to be drilling in 5,000 feet of water for oil, you should have the ability to control what you're doing," he said.
A White House as politically attuned as this one should have been conscious of two obvious historical lessons. One was the Exxon Valdez, where a late and lame response by both industry and the federal government all but destroyed one of the country’s richest fishing grounds and ended up costing billions of dollars. The other was President George W. Bush’s hapless response to Hurricane Katrina.
Now we have another disaster in more or less the same neck of the woods, and it takes the administration more than a week to really get moving.
WASHINGTON " Suddenly, everything changed.
By CALVIN WOODWARD
For days, as an oil spill spread in the Gulf of Mexico, BP assured the government the plume was manageable, not catastrophic. Federal authorities were content to let the company handle the mess while keeping an eye on the operation.
But then government scientists realized the leak was five times larger than they had been led to believe, and days of lulling statistics and reassuring words gave way Thursday to an all-hands-on-deck emergency response. Now questions are sure to be raised about a self-policing system that trusted a commercial operator to take care of its own mishap even as it grew into a menace imperiling Gulf Coast nature and livelihoods from Florida to Texas
Now questions are sure to be raised about a self-policing system that trusted a commercial operator to take care of its own mishap even as it grew into a menace imperiling Gulf Coast nature and livelihoods from Florida to Texas
It was the USGS engineers and The guys from Homeland Security who first blew the whistle to question whether BP's estimate of 1000b/d was an accurate measure.
When it was shown to be that BP was all wet, the govt took over. but still let BP try to stem flows at the well head.
Oil spill is BP's wake-up call
guardian.co.uk, Friday 30 April 2010 15.03 BST
As more oil drifts towards the Mississippi delta, we must hope that BP questions its future dependence on fossil fuels
Oil from the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion has reached the US coast. Photograph: Liz Condo/AP
... As officials in Louisiana begin to face the reality of the spill that has now reached their fragile coastline, many will be asking if BP did everything in its power to prevent this kind of accident. Reports this week suggest that last year a senior BP executive lobbied against mandatory safety codes for offshore drilling, arguing that the regulation would be too onerous and would slow down the construction of new rigs. Industry pressure had the desired effect, but it will be up to accident investigators to decide if a code could have helped avoid the initial explosion last week.
What BP will never admit, among their glossy corporate brochures and extensive environmental assessments, is that its entire business model is predicated on an ever increasing demand for oil, decades into the future. These growth predictions rely on a world in which there is no collective action to tackle global emissions, no concerted effort to transfer clean technology to the developing world, and almost no chance of maintaining anything like a stable climate.
As more oil drifts towards the critical wetlands of the Mississippi delta, we must hope that the more thoughtful members of BP's board will now feel obliged to question the wisdom of a strategy that is, at its core, unchanged since the opening decades of the 20th century.
Is that little red cord they've got strong out across the sand supposed to stop the oil from getting onto shore? I hope someone's got a better plan in mind than that, because something tells me that isn't going to cut it.
The BP well did not have any remote-control or acoustically-activated shut-off switch for use in case of an emergency such as the rig sinking. The countries of Norway and Brazil require them on all offshore rigs, but oil companies persuaded U.S. regulators that such backup devices were unnecessary
The BP well did not have any remote-control or acoustically-activated shut-off switch for use in case of an emergency such as the rig sinking.
BP America Chairman and President Lamar McKay told me efforts to trigger the blowout preventer to stop the flow of oil from the sea floor are like performing “open heart surgery at 5,000 feet in the dark with robot-controlled submarines.” During my exclusive “This Week” interview, McKay said he believes the cause of the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that led the loss of 11 lives and to its eventual sinking was “a failed piece of equipment”. McKay added, “We don't know why it failed yet in this contracted rig.”
McKay said BP, oil industry and government partners are working on four fronts to manage the massive spill: 1) stopping the leak at the source, 2) working on a containment system to collect the oil below the surface and channel the flow through a pipe, 3) fighting to keep oil from washing up on shore and 4) dealing with the clean-up of any oil on and off shore.
A containment dome, McKay said, has been fabricated and is in the final engineering phase. McKay said he expects the dome to be deployed in 6-8 days.
Estimates of how much oil is emanating from the sea floor are “very difficult,” McKay said, “because you can’t measure [it] in any way accurately.” He added that “there is a large uncertainty range” around the estimate of 5,000 barrels per day that is said to be flowing from the well.