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My growing frustration with the BP oil spill

May 14, 2010

photograph by Gerald Herbert, via National Geographic

I have yet to post about the late-april Gulf of Mexico oil spill, but as my outrage grows, so does my need to share information with you. As I read bits and blurbs and quotes about the spill, the thing that infuriates me the most is the lack of transparency. How many oil spills and tragedies must we go through before we learn that the most crucial thing we need is information and action?

There have been a number of articles detailing who is to blame, what went wrong, who is pointing fingers at whom . . . but truthfully, that’s absurd. As the time ticks by, as the meetings press on, wildlife is dying. Our oceans are being poisoned. You know all this.

Perhaps what you don’t know yet is that there are images, there is information out there, but BP and many other interests don’t want the general public to have access to it. Treehugger has a great post about this where you can see video and images of the oil spilling out of the riser pipe – check it out here. As Treehugger state in their article, information could help solve this problem. If engineers and great minds outside of BP can figure out how to stop this spill, shouldn’t they?

It starts with information. Doug Suttles, BP’s Chief Operating Officer for exploration and production says the rate of the spill is approximately 5,000 barrels a day. But other reports have said it could actually be up to 70,000 barrels a day. What?!

So what is anyone doing you may ask? Well, according to Bloomberg,

“BP is preparing a “junk shot” for the end of next week that would inject tire pieces and golf balls, followed by mud and cement, to plug the leaking well. It also is drilling a relief well that could permanently plug the leak, an effort that began May 2 and will take 90 days to complete.”

Trash? Really? They are first attempting to insert a pipe into the leak to direct much of the oil to a ship on the surface though Bloomberg quotes a spokesman from BP as saying,

That device is in reserve, Nicholas said, because “there’s no guarantee of success” from the pipe insertion. “This is stuff we haven’t done before at these pressures and temperatures,” he said.

We can drill for oil 5,000 feet below the surface no problem, but when it comes to fixing leaks at that depth all of the sudden it’s a complicated engineering feat if it can be done at all? Wait . . . wouldn’t we want to consider that BEFORE drilling? Wouldn’t half of BP’s research and preparation go into solving these issues as in . . . what happened to preparing for the ‘what if’s’?

14-year old Lauren Spaulding is asking the very same questions. She asked BP at a town hall style meeting for information. She wanted to know what she could do. Here’s what she told the camera after the Q&A:

So, as you can tell, this is a frustrating issue for me. But the truth is, I don’t blame BP directly for the spill. Accidents are inevitable when we are drilling for oil. I just ask that we, as public citizens, are given the information and the chance to do something about it. Lauren Spaulding says that she and other students are very concerned about what’s happening to the environment and all that she is trying to do is get as much information as she can so she can be informed and take action. I couldn’t agree more.

One Comment leave one →
  1. June 6, 2010 8:10 am

    Liza, it’s very true!

    Information is critical to extrapolating the extent of the damage and the public must be told the truth. This sort of disaster affects the whole ecosystem and that includes us humans!

    States and corporates are quick to pass on the buck, point the finger and unwilling to show accountability. We live in a ‘scape-goat’ culture where blame takes precedence over responsibility. But the media has also overlooked another side of the debate, whether it be out of ignorance or hypocrisy – that we fundamentally are contributors (or conspirators) to this tragedy.

    We should ask ourself, where does the demand for oil arise from, why it’s from our own self-interests. It is the common consumer that lights the blue touchpaper for corporations to continue the plunder of finite resources on our planet. Until we all realise that, this sort of disaster will only repeat itself.

    The path currently travelled will be to the detriment of humanity as a whole unless urgent and remedial action is taken – beginning with a change in our lifestyle and culture. The long-term consequences will be far reaching and catastrophic if this state of myopia continues unchecked.

    My recent blog entry may be of interest, the poem highlights our globe’s perilous predicament:

    Keep up the good work!

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