Are we really supposed to accept that BP was so completely unprepared for the disaster that befell the Deepwater Horizon that it’s going to take nearly four months to plug the well? The folks down in Lous-e-ana won’t be so accepting. I ghar-uhn-tee. The Gulf disaster has the potential to be for offshore drilling what Three Mile Island was to nuclear power: a doomsday event that set the industry back a generation.
BP is essentially out of options for any quick solution, although they’re making a third attempt to cap the well this week (which you can watch live via video feed.) But most people involved already think the well is going to flow more or less unabated through August. “I Think they’ve pretty much decided it’s about as bad as it can get,” LSU oceanographer Robert Carney told the Times-Picayune. A couple hundred protesters gathered down in the French Quarter in New Orleans on Sunday, and you can bet it won’t be the last outburst from the locals.
Meanwhile, the latest fear is something called gas clouds, giant plumes of petroleum under the surface, a result of the chemical dispersants, which when used on the surface break up the oil, but under the surface somehow actually keep it down there, creating an undersea calamity:
Researchers have said they have found at least two massive underwater plumes of what appears to be oil, each hundreds of feet deep and stretching for miles. Yet the chief executive of BP PLC — which has for weeks downplayed everything from the amount of oil spewing into the Gulf to the environmental impact — said there is “no evidence” that huge amounts of oil are suspended undersea.
BP CEO Tony Hayward said the oil naturally gravitates to the surface — and any oil below was just making its way up. However, researchers say the disaster in waters where light doesn’t shine through could ripple across the food chain.
“Every fish and invertebrate contacting the oil is probably dying. I have no doubt about that,” said Prosanta Chakrabarty, a Louisiana State University fish biologist.
This is going to set back offshore drilling by years, and maybe decades, and the industry has no one to blame for that but themselves. It seems to me that being prepared for something like the pipe on a deepsea well breaking off should be like, I dunno, one of the first things you prepare for. The industry’s defenders will say there hasn’t been an accident like this is 30 years. But how many of these do you need? Continue reading…