Oil Spill Update for Wed., May 12

Rick MacPherson succinctly sums up the Congressional hearings on the oil spill. As with most disasters, cascading human and technical failures led to the blowout.

Stupak focused on all the problems with the blowout preventer whose job it was to shut off the pipe in the event something went wrong. Suffice it to say, there appears to have been many. The problems ranged from a dead battery, to equipment that was improperly wired, to other equipment that was too underpowered to seal off the pipe.

Many words will likely come to the minds of those who hear the details of all the things that went wrong. “Competence” probably won’t be one of them.

Meanwhile, a video was released of oil and gas streaming from the pipe on the sea floor.

The Boston Globe’s Big Picture has stunning and depressing photos of the oil spill.

Bradford Plumer at the New Republic argues that the press is undercovering the spill because there are not enough heart-wrenching photos of dead animals, crediting the use of dispersants. Nature has a feature on the science of dispersants:

In the longer term, the Deepwater Horizon accident response has begun what is, to all intents and purposes, a giant experiment on dispersant use.

Deborah Blum points out that the main dispersants being used are common household products. Hopefully this will end better than the Exxon Valdez experiment in rock-washing.

4 Replies to “Oil Spill Update for Wed., May 12”

  1. Calling this event a spill is twisting the language. When a surgeon cuts off the wrong leg he might call it a therapeutic misadventure while the patient calls it a disaster. BP and friends have done more then “spill some oil”—– they have managed to penetrate a vast cavern of submerged oil without having a clue as to how to stop the flow.

    This oil eruption is underplayed by the press because they are waiting to see which way the blame game is being played. Right now our happy talk President is escaping the blame. Congress and MMS are also slipping away from being blamed. That leaves the corporate leaders to take the fall. The Democrats and their friends in the press are fearful of owning a Katrina like disaster before the election.

    This oil disaster can end up being the defining event for Mr. Obama. He is biding his time and letting BP stumble around trying to solve the problem. At the very least he should have encouraged a consortium of international experts in rheology and oil spill mitigation to advise BP and Homeland Security. But political spin is the watchword in Washington so our leaders fiddle while the disaster unfolds.
    If Obama had assumed a leadership role he would have to accept the consequences and so far the damage that is being caused has not been felt by us.

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