We are the endangered species

Michael Collin

There is no viable solution insight for the out of control oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico.  The stunning failure of British Petroleum (BP) raises the question - are these oil giants too big to exist?  Are they too dangerous to function in our presence?  BP has four permanent deep water  structures and 28 boreholes operating at a water depth of greater than 5000 feet in the Gulf of Mexico.  What's next?

British Petroleum (BP) had the resources to drill the well but lacked the planning and ability to deal with its failure.  The oil giant's performance inspired ridicule by Jon Stewart in a recent Daily Show comment ("There will be blame").  The White House was not amused, however.  Nobel Prize winning physicist and Secretary of the Energy, Steven Chu, is now in Houston with a team of cutting edge scientists tasked with mentoring BP and devising a viable solution as the oil giant continues to falter.

There is a well known history of oil company accidents including blazing oil rigs, the Exxon Valdez tanker leak, and the Prudhoe Bay pipeline collapse (another BP special).  But nothing matches the collapse of BP's Deepwater Horizon structure at the Macondo prospect, Gulf of Mexico.

The failed site is gushing between 200,000 and one million gallons of oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico.  The Center for Biological Diversity reported that the Minerals Management Service (MMS), the federal agency that approved drilling, routinely ignored Federal biologists by issuing waivers that failed to take in to account the impact of drilling on endangered species.

Adding humans as an endangered species might be a timely move.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) produced a document on April 28 indicating the leak could reach over two million gallons of oil a day.  In addition to ravaging the Gulf of Mexico, the damage caused by oil may extend to the Florida straits and the Atlantic coast of the United States.

While BP estimates that it can contain the gusher within a week, Admiral Thad Allen of the U.S. Coast Guard is planning for the event to become a full scale catastrophe.  His candid admission that half a million gallons of the toxic oil dispersant have been released above and below the gulf indicates the current  level of desperation to contain the accumulating mess.

Too Big to Exist

BP is a $250 billion company, one of the six largest oil and natural gas exploration and marketing companies in the world.  It's the largest corporation in the United Kingdom.

A look at its public safety record over the past five years raises questions about the ability of the company to function safely.  In 2005, BP's Texas refinery had a series of explosions that killed 15 and injured 170 more people.  Residents near the refinery were confined to their homes to limit toxic exposure.  The U.S. Chemical Safety Board issued a thorough report laying responsibility at BP's doorstep.  The company's poor maintenance of the Alaska pipeline at Prudhoe Bay due to "draconian cuts" in maintenance resulted in a major oil spill in 2006.

CNN conducted a major review of BP's challenges in light of these two disasters in 2006.  Presented with evidence showing  neglect of pipeline corrosion at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska the BP executive in charge claimed, "We were blindsided by the recent leaks."  At congressional hearings, one BP officials invoked the Fifth Amendment to avoid "self incrimination."  BP senior management promised to take the steps necessary to moderate the company's obsession with the bottom line at the expense of safety.

Despite promising to remedy the problems it created in both disasters, BP had a poor track record of keeping its promises prior to the current catastrophe.

After being chastised by President Barack Obama for creating a "ridiculous spectacle" in the midst of the crisis, BP's CEO Tony Howard tried to diminish the scope of the problem.  The CEO insisted that deep sea oil drilling will continue.  He's right.  BP has 32 Gulf of Mexico oil operations at greater than 5000 feet.

BP is not the only oil company with a poor safety record.  It's the first big oil company to cause a catastrophe of this magnitude.  It must be the last.  We simply can't tolerate these lumbering giants that place cost cutting for bigger executive bonuses above the safety and survival of those who use their energy products.  If you put your customers out of business and injure or kill them, they can't buy anything.

We are the endangered species.

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Comments

Did you see these low ball unemployment estimates?

The Atlanta Fed has enormous disclaimers on their initial estimates, but I think they are dead wrong. post overview here, but they have the total jobs at 2.8 million. I cannot believe they are giving grants for tourism! Tour the devastation?

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Yes. I like this source better

Shadowstats.com

The grants for tourism story came out at the samt time it was reported that fishermen who've had contact with the spill were coming in sick from the toxicity. Maybe BP should give Dr. Kevorkian, MD, a grant for guided tours.

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grant for tourism

I saw that, so they didn't get any training or HAZMAT suits? Right, that tourism grant was beyond the pale. It's like complete denial generally that this spill will turn the entire gulf coast region into a dead zone, toxic waste area.

The above unemployment is just the overall economy, but I believe the oil spill will cause a double dip recession. That along with the European/Greece crisis.

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Indifference

That is heart breaking.  It's so unnecessary and so avoidable.  BP set up an aparatus that was marginally maintained and poorly designed.  They created a process that could not be managed in a crisis state and then made bad decisions in the midst of the crisis that they told regulators was "highly unlikely."

Like the Wall Street scams, there will be no one held accountable.  They'll blame it all on the head of Mining and Minerals Service who resigned a few days ago.  Then it will happen again.  We're ruled by fools, dangerous ones at that.

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President Obama?

President Obama must love stinky environs: please, please, please, someone extricate Obama’s head out of British Petroleum’s ass so that he can see the physical devastation in the Gulf of Mexico; while your at it, take Obama’s head out of Wall Street’s ass so that he can see the severely depressed economy that is now getting worse, and the military-industrial complexes’ ass so that Obama can see the futility of his terrible war in Afghanistan. Maybe the problem with Obama is his head is up his own ass, and he never wants to know the truth about his lying presidency.

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Obama's video problem

There's a very crisp sound byte of Obama endorsing deep water drilling by these 'competent guys' or something equally ridiculous.  The video is fair game and his failure to take over the crisis management will be far more damaging.  After a month of failure, broken promises, and concealment most reasonable people would say, 'Take it away from them.  They're incompetent.'  But we've got a very bright cabinet member who is allowed to be nothing more than a "life coach" for BP and the Coast Guard helping censor the news.   This is one lousy performance.  But I was glad to hear Janet Napoletano say how much she's "learned" about oil spils.  Great on the job training, eh;)

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video sure is fair game

the rodent crossing the podium during his speech claiming we have financial reform is surely going to be used as well.

It's just unreal and so far the press is ignoring that. what I want to know is did they outsource so much of their responsibilities, expertise, to big business, the government plain doesn't have the knowledge/skills/equipment to stop the oil leak?

Why do they not pull in foreign governments, to help?

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UK

The UK was sending us their entire supply of oil dispersant. I guarantee down the road they determine this stuff is worse than the oil.

Just a note on Obama. He has lost the swing support that got him elected. He is coming off as soft on the banks and having broken some promises.

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Rick Steiner on Olbermann

A conservation expert, he mentioned that they tried this 'junk shot' in 1979 on the IXTOC blowout and that it ended up making it worse with several more leaks in other areas.

Remember IXTOC took 9 months to seal.

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you mean the mud/golf ball/kitchen sink thing?

It seems to me they could calculate the actual various pressures down there and design a cap accordingly, but the main problem is the actual deep sea gear to operate down there. I don't see why they don't build around it, where the pressure is less and then "funnel" and also "vacuum".

Just "throwing" stuff sounds like nonsense, including concrete by the various pressures (water and the gush itself) plus the solubility factor.

What about massive boulders, but first build a circle around the area, strengthen those...kind of an architecture design instead of just "throwing crap" at it which seems for sure to disperse to the above?

I'm just talking out loud but a lot of this crap makes no sense to me plus blows me away. I think of NASA fixing a 1960's space craft with something like tin foil and a few other things to not burn up in the atmosphere now where are those guys to brainstorm design some solutions? I thought nuclear submarines were outfitting with outboard robotic equipment too, where is all of that technology?

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Freeze it Shut

As cold as the water is I wonder why they couldn't make things a bit colder and freeze the end of the pipe shut. Oil freezes at a pretty high temp and they could oxygenate the water some more also. If they inserted some sort of coil into the pipe the water oil mix in the pipe could freeze long enough for them to seal the pipe permanently.

We spent a lot of money exploring space but never had the same desire to research under our own ocean.

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CBS News

reported that other countries have offered to help and BP has said "no thanks" and they have gotten over 20,000 legitimate solutions, so they are "evaluating" them.

That "no thanks" and then there was an incident bigger than this one and they are not immediately deployed what worked there is beyond the pale. that was the "super tanks with straws" idea.

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Its Obvious No Disaster Planning Was Ever Done

A responsible company would have had an action plan for just such a disaster. They could have simulated this on a super computer and come up with solutions.

Of course the regulators have an obligation to with hold the license if there is no worst case planning.

There is no excuse for this disaster.

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I agree but what bothers me is they aren't solving it

We're seeing "analysis" and "blame" and "Study" and I am like WHO CARES ASS WIPES FIX IT! SOLVE IT NOW! It's just unreal. You flip on cable news and they devote 10 minutes to this and then it's onto Rand Paul and immigration puppets and finding the most trivial of political crap to munch on, aka Sarah Palin sandwich munch instead of the most critical thing of our time.

Let's have studies, let's tour, let's hold a press conference, let's watch our messaging, let's have a commission, let's hold a hearing...

All the while ooze is gushing which sure looks to me like the disaster of the century.

Can you imagine the news back in WWII? it would be 5 minutes of Pearl Harbor and then 50 minutes debating whether Francis Perkins was a closet Lesbian because she leaned into Eleanor just a little too closely at some press event.

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Disaster Planning

Planning is for socialist, so we can't expect a corporation to do it. Besides, planning cost money and reduces profits.

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BP Has Another Spill in Alaska Right Now

These guys are an accident waiting to happen.

This is no where in the scope of the Gulf accident but it goes to a lack of best practices something that in their business they should be all over.

I can tell you in my business I'm known as Doctor Doom because I won't move forward till I'm satisfied that any possible accident or mistake is considered and has a response.

There are no accidents in life only things that were not properly prepared for.

BP Shuts Down Trans Alaska PipeLine After Accident Causes Unknown Amount of Oil to be Spilled

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