Thursday, July 15, 2010
BP oil disaster and the politics (and business) of scienceThe Huffington Post last week highlighted articles about the need for concentrated and quick scientific research on the BP oil catastrophe. This is an area where both BP and the Obama administration are clearly falling short.
The news yesterday about the federal government temporarily stopping testing on the new oil cap BP has nearly in place and also stopping drilling on the main relief well emphasizes how important it is to get the science right. And how difficult that is. As the AP's Tom Breen and Harry Weber explain in BP: Cap should start choking oil 'soon' after fix Biloxi Sun-Herald 07/15/2010, testing how now resumed, with the feds saying they will review the results every six hours.
Jim White in Well Integrity Key to Rapidly Changing Story on New Cap FireDogLake 07/14/2010 tries to read between the lines of the public story, noting that the public story shifted rapidly from the concept of BP catching all the oil in the new cap and pumping it to ships on the surface to plugging the leak. Plugging the leak represents the greater immediate risk because it could create pressures inside the well shaft that could cause new leaks to erupt.
Dan Froomkin reported on the knowledge gap in Gulf Oil Spill: Scientists Beg For A Chance To Take Basic Measurements Huffington Post 07/06/2010:
An all-star team of top oceanographers, chemists, engineers and other scientists could be ready to head out to the well site on two fully-equipped research vessels on about a week's notice. But they need to get the go-ahead -- and about $8.4 million -- from BP or the federal government or both. And that does not appear imminent.Renne Schoof reports similar complaints in Researchers say Obama's slow on oil spill science, too McClatchy Newspapers 07/02/2010:
Despite a spill that may already total more than 150 million gallons of oil, however, neither federal officials nor BP has mounted a speedy, focused inquiry to understand its impact.The problem of BP hiring scientists in order have a legal club to keep them quiet is also addressed in Ben Sandmel, Ivor van Heerden, the Compromised Cassandra of the Gulf Politics Daily 07/04/2010:
"This is a very standard response process in a spill," van Heerden said. One aspect of his role may be quite surprising, though. The official website of the Deepwater Horizon Unified Command -- the government/business compendium that runs the recovery -- lists Polaris as a "BP Contractor." Van Heerden states matter-of-factly: "I have to make a living, since I no longer work for LSU. This job utilizes my expertise, and I feel quite sure that it does not compromise my integrity in the least."This certainly sounds like a whitewash scenario to me. It's also not clear in Sandmel's column whether Len Bahr was vouching specifically for the kind of opinion Van Heerden is expressing there about the BP oil disaster or for his integrity in general based on the controversies in which Van Heerden was involved over the Hurricane Katrine disaster response.
Tags: bp oil disaster
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Defend the bad against the worse."
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