07 June 2010

Venting more than just oil

Watch live streaming video from wkrg_oil_spill at livestream.com

A friend posted on Facebook a link to a story about Obama telling the press he was going to "find out whose ass to kick." I posted a couple of comments, and it really took over her post, which I certainly did NOT intend to do. So I decided to take it to my own space. You are the lucky recipients.

First, I do NOT expect Obama to do much more than he's doing. Obama could imprison every employee of BP (and Transocean, the real culprit) and declare Martial Law, and it wouldn't stop a drop. There's a reason why he hasn't taken charge. It's because no one, not BP, not Transocean, not FEMA, or the US Military, or Obama and his "experts" (remember how well the eggheads ran the Vietnam War?), NO ONE has the technology to fix something that's never been broken this badly before. No one really knows how to completely fix this thing until the pressure is taken off that oil deposit. And that won't be done until the well runs dry or the relief wells are drilled, and they'll take another 2-3 months. It takes months to drill relief wells, and relief wells were not already drilled because it costs months of labor and MILLIONS of dollars to drill each hole, and no one expected ALL of the "fail safes" to all fail at once. They never had before.

When George Washington was sick with pneumonia, his doctor drained a pint of blood, because bloodletting was the "conventional wisdom" of the day. An hour later, he drained another pint, and wrote in his journal: "he seems to be getting worse."

I'm not being sarcastic (for once), but the analogy is the same. Again, no deep water well has ever failed this badly before. At least one of several redundant safety mechanisms has always worked before. This time, everything failed. Wells of twice this depth are being explored right now, or were, until this happened. No one, at least from everything I've read, believed a catastrophic failure like this was even possible. It would be literally like blaming BMW for not building their cars to survive a meteor strike. It's not COMPLETELY out of the realm of possibility, but it ain't very likely. The analogy here would be me pulling up to the pump to fill my gas tank, then while the gas is pumping, the rubber hose breaks, starts a fire, kills me and several customers, and destroys the station. Then the owner of the equipment blames ME, the buyer of the gas, for the failure of their own equipment. Do you inspect the gas pump when you pull up in your car? No, you assume that the people who do this for a living know what they are doing and are not taking shortcuts. BP apparently did the same with Transocean. I say "apparently," because it is possible that BP was pressuring Transocean to take shortcuts.

BP should get SOME credit for taking ownership of this nightmare from the beginning. I think BP stepped to the forefront early on because they had a better chance at stopping this thing than anyone else and they knew that doing nothing except getting on TV pointing fingers at Transocean would not win them any sympathy whatsoever. I'm sure BP's lawyers are already preparing their case against Transocean, who know they have nothing to gain from any visibility at all. Tragically, the only ones who will make money off this is the lawyers; hundreds, if not thousands of them in twenty years or more of courtroom combat.

Ironically, I've seen some stories that say that the water/foam used to extinguish the fire may have sunk the rig, ripping open the pipe deep underwater. It's at least possible that it may not have been nearly as bad if they'd let the rig burn itself out above the pontoons.

Obama isn't an idiot. He's trying to walk a fine line between looking like he's doing something without having to actually do something, because there isn't anything else he CAN do. BP is still in charge because no one has come up with a better idea. I'm among the first to castigate Obama for spending TRILLIONS of dollars, and meddling where he (and Congress) doesn't belong, but for once, this one isn't his fault.

No comments: