Friday, September 10, 2010

BP oil disaster: worse than claimed

Continuing revelations about BP's duplicity and recklessness emphasize the need for a more aggressive approach toward regulation of off-shore drilling. And it emphasizes once again the Obama administration's lack of interest in using an opportunity like that to affirm the necessity of positive democratic government to protect the people against the misdeeds of corporations like BP. Obama is so far stuck in the neoliberal mode of minimizing regulations and making the government a partner rather than a regulator to companies like BP.

Editorial, Closer than we think Pensacola News-Journal 08/29/2010:

The ongoing revelations about the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill, and the ensuing efforts to cap the runaway well, make it crystal clear that we can't go back to business as usual with offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

The bottom line: We can't trust the oil industry to police itself. ...

Instead of hopefully parsing scientific reports to determine how fast natural forces can clean up the spilled oil and gas components, we could still be girding for more oil coming ashore on our beaches amidst an expanding disaster.

And let's not forget the worst-case scenario, that the well shaft itself could have collapsed and the leak become virtually unstoppable. The "solution" then might have been reduced to taking months to drill new wells and attempting to pump the huge oil field hard enough to reduce the pressure.

That could have required years.
Kimberly Blair, Oil spill: BP reverses, admits there's oil in local waters Pensacola News-Journal 08/29/2010:

During more than a dozen interviews last week, BP officials and spokespeople for a number of government agencies working on the Deepwater Horizon Oil spill response denied knowledge of oil in the bay.

Even as they spoke, however, Escambia County officials and local fishermen were reporting finding weathered oil, as they've been doing for weeks. BP's own crews were hand-scooping it up, and a submerged-oil team from BP's Deepwater Horizon Response Incident Command Post in Mobile was investigating.

"BP says it's all gone, but it's not. I've known it was out there for a month," said a commercial fisherman who asked not to be identified because he is working for BP in the cleanup and feared losing his job. [my emphasis]
The administration and the Democrats in Congress should be using this opportunity BP handed them to rehabilitate the reputation of the regulatory agencies and drive forward a green-jobs agenda. Instead, they have tried to get away with as little as they could. And oil-industry flack Ken Salazar remains as Secretary of the Interior.

And BP is a poster child for corporate recklessness. Rong-Gong Lin II reports in Investigators blast BP, saying it failed to learn from past accidents McClatchy Newspapers/Los Angeles Times 08/27/2010

The panel investigating the April 20 Deepwater Horizon disaster, which killed 11 workers and started the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history, portrayed the oil giant as ignoring past mistakes and not effectively emphasizing safety.

"If you don't change the safety culture for the entire company, you're going to have incidents," lead investigator Hung Nguyen told a BP executive Thursday at a joint U.S. Coast Guard-Interior Department hearing in Houston.

"We're concerned about BP's supervision, their expertise and their control on the rig," investigator Jason Mathews said.

Nguyen, a U.S. Coast Guard captain, admonished BP senior officials for failing to offer a satisfactory explanation of who was responsible for ensuring safety for BP's deepwater operations.

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