Friday, August 06, 2010

Learning from the BP Oil Spill

At approximately 9:45 pm on 20 April 2010, methane gas under extremely high pressure short out of the drill column at the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the gulf of Mexico. When the gas reached the platform on the oil rig, it ignited, killing eleven British Petroleum workers.

But that was just the beginning of the disaster. For nearly three months, crude oil gushed out of the wellhead at a rate of at 210, 000 gallons per day while BP workers tried frantically but unsuccessfully to contain the leak. Meanwhile, the resulting oil slick spread out over a radius of at least 2,500 square miles, polluting the coastlines of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida and killing thousands of species in what was already an extremely delicate ecosystem.

Finally, on 15 July, 2010, BP workers said the leak had been contained through the installation of a cap, although it is by no means certain that this will work as a permanent solution.

By far, this has been the worst environmental disaster in American history, prompting dozens of scientists and politicians to ask what they can learn from the tragedy. Unfortunately, however, the real lessons we should be learning seem to have evaded the experts. The very same shortcuts and foolish decisions that led to the disaster in the first place continue to be perpetuated, not least in the clean up efforts.

To read my entire article on this subject, click HERE.
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