BP and US

by Ouida on June 3, 2010

Six weeks ago an explosion at the Deep Horizon well off the US gulf coast caused that well to begin spewing 800,000 gallons a day of crude oil into the water.  Satellite images today showed the spill creeping toward the Florida Coast.

I was 27 and in medical school on the East coast when the Exxon Valdez hit a reef at Prince William Sound and spewed 11 million gallons of crude into the Ocean, destroying fisheries, birds and other wild life.  More than 20 years later Prince William Sound is not fully recovered.  The Exxon Valdez spill provided ample opportunity to study what happens when a catastrophic oil spill occurs and cannot be cleaned up.  It is estimated that the residual oil along the coast line will degrade at a rate of 4% per year.  Humm at that rate I’ll be dead and in the ground before the oil from that spill is gone.

I am sure that when this explosion is investigated careless and silly actions and omissions will have been determined to cause the explosion and hamper attempts to staunch the issue of oil into coastal waters.  After all Exxon found it too expensive to repair the radar on the Valdez so the ship was literally blind as it moved through the water and the crew was exhausted because Exxon ignored its own policies regarding crew rest and relief.

Sarah Palin chanting “drill baby, drill” suddenly seems puerile, the rant of a decidedly uninformed politician who simply wanted to garner votes and win an election.

We are being asked to believe that while drilling in deep waters may not be as safe as we thought, it is okay to drill in shallower water, because we can do that safely.  How can we even believe that we can drill safely underwater when we cannot transport oil safely over the water?

Unlike most people, I don’t need Obama to get mad.  I just need him to develop a credible energy policy, something this country has never had.  Dare I write it ? An energy policy that does not involve oil. I would like to think you can erect systems that can overcome any level of incompetence.  Engineer around an idiot as it were.  But it takes human effort and will to engineer such systems and, in the rush for oil, those systems will likely never be implemented in the first place or will be disabled when they are needed the most.

CNN lists new terms that are part of the American lexicon because of the explosion at the Deep Horizon well.  The list would be funny if the situation were not so tragic for the list delineates the methods that have been attempted to contain the spill but have failed.  Now the effort may depend on relief wells that will have to be drilled to control the oil leak.  Relief wells that are months away.

When I was in medical school on the East coast, the Exxon Valdez disaster was a disaster that occurred on TV.  It seemed impossible that I would ever see any direct evidence of the spill ensconced as I was in the North East.  Now scientists predict that unless the situation is controlled, citizens living on the East cost will get a very up close and personal view of the spill for it will truly be coming to a neighborhood near them.

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