BP’s contingency plans and cost-cutting decisions
Obviously BP considered a real contingency plan for the Gulf coast a complete joke. And it appears that BP decided not to spend just a little more time and money on the Deepwater Horizon installation. BP went with the more ‘problematic’ (cheaper and faster) design: continuous casing to the bottom of the well — instead of the safer (but more expensive and slower) short string of segmented casing, which are cemented together, one at a time.
How’d that work out for you us, BP?
1) An AP investigation finds that [BP]‘s contingency plans for both the Gulf and the Deepwater Horizon rig are “riddled with omissions and glaring errors”:
Professor Peter Lutz is listed in BP’s 2009 response plan for a Gulf of Mexico oil spill as a national wildlife expert. He died in 2005. Under the heading “sensitive biological resources,” the plan lists marine mammals including walruses, sea otters, sea lions and seals. None lives anywhere near the Gulf. The names and phone numbers of several Texas A&M University marine life specialists are wrong. So are the numbers for marine mammal stranding network offices in Louisiana and Florida, which are no longer in service.
2) A fascinating industry press piece that damns BP:
Engineers contacted by Technology Review insist that conclusive answers will come with completion of the investigations, but criticize, for example, BP’s decision to install a continuous set of threaded casing pipes from the wellhead down to the bottom of its well. “The only thing I can figure is they must have thought it was a cost-cutting deal,” says Bommer of BP’s well design.
This can be problematic in deep, high-pressure wells for two reasons.
First, it seals off the space between the casing and the bore hole, leaving one blind to leaks that sneak up around the casing pipe (as the BP Deepwater blowout is suspected to have done). Second, the long string gives gas more time to percolate into the well. A preferred alternative in high-pressure deepwater is a “liner” design in which drillers install and then cement in place a short string of casing in the lower reaches of the well before casing the rest of the well. This design enables the driller to watch for leaks while the cement is setting.
“It takes a more time and costs a little more but it’s a much safer way to do it,” says Geoff Kimbrough, vice president for deepwater operations at Houston-based drilling consultancy New Tech Engineering.
Media black out
Karl Burkart: Gulf ‘media blackout’ triggers journalist fury
CBS, CNN, the New York Times — these are not fringe media outlets. And when Anderson Cooper and Katie Couric complain about press barricades, you know that not only is the rumored media blackout very real, but it is clearly also very serious:
… The restrictions imposed upon journalists [has] been so bad that yesterday both the New York Times and CNN came out strong, calling out the U.S. government for its involvement in interfering with the press:
Journalists struggling to document the impact of the oil rig explosion have repeatedly found themselves turned away from public areas affected by the spill, not only by BP and its contractors, but by local law enforcement, the Coast Guard and government officials.
Today ABC posted a report about harassment of journalists by BP contractors, but Anderson Cooper in his television report made it clear that it was not just BP contractors but federal wildlife officials
and national guardsman who were blockading CNN’s media team from filming the oil-soaked birds as they came in off the rescue boats.
This morning I heard a radio interview with documentary filmmaker James Fox who is in the region and who describes how strangely militarized the Gulf operation has become. Any time he approached someone to ask what was going on, he was completely ignored. He managed to get one 15-year-old boy to speak who said ominously, “The media’s not reporting one tenth of what’s going on up there.”
Karl Burkart’s Twitter:
- greendig Just received insider leak from Gulf cleanup that is so horrific I almost can’t believe it. Working to confirm.. yesterday from web
(NOTE: Karl still hasn’t posted any information about what he heard yesterday. You wonder if it has anything to do with the munitions dump that’s located near the leak.)
- greendig Benzene is the biggest threat right now in the Gulf. Respirators can’t filter it and it is absorbed directly thru skin. about 18 hours ago from web
- greendig You can’t filter benzene with a mask. You have to have a full respirator with a vapor canister. about 7 hours ago from web
About dispersant & respirators & clean-up crews
Crooks & Liars: (VIDEO) Human rights group: BP discouraging crews from using respirators
RFK Center President Kerry Kennedy traveled to the Gulf Coast to talk to cleanup workers and found that BP was trying to repress the use of safety equipment.
“In all three states that I’ve visited, fishermen said when they went out to work on the cleanup, that if they tried to bring respirators they were told it was unnecessary equipment and would only spread hysteria,” Kennedy told Fox News Friday.
“When I went out with eleven people, we had respirators on and within half an hour, all of our eyes were burning and our throats were closing and we all had headaches,” she explained.
Kennedy was also concerned that BP was refusing to release information about the contents of the dispersant being used.
“They’re basic human rights issues. The right to access of information. BP still will not say what the chemical makeup of the dispersants are so health care officials and victims can know why they’re sick and what’s going on with them,” Kennedy said.
And the health care options for workers who have fallen ill is a problem too.
“One of the things that we were told is that BP would not allow county health officials on to their campus. They finally allowed one nurse. They told workers that if they became sick, the nurse could only give them a Band-Aid or an aspirin. If they really felt sick they had to go to the BP doctors. So BP has completely control over the health care of those workers and what’s happening,” Kennedy told Fox host Eric Bolling.
“And no government health care down there at all?” asked Bolling.
Kennedy found that there was government health care but workers were reluctant to accept it. “The workers are concerned that this is the only job in town and if the go outside what BP tells them to do they might lose the only job they could get,” she said.
Part of what they don’t want you to see
And then from Boston.com – The Big Picture more of this:
[R]ecent photographs of oil-affected wildlife, people and shorelines around the Gulf of Mexico on this, the 51st day after the initial explosion.
41 photos total at Boston.com link — a few below:
Oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill pools against the Louisiana coast along Barataria Bay Tuesday, June 8, 2010. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Patches of oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill are seen from an underwater vantage, Monday, June 7, 2010, in the Gulf of Mexico south of Venice, Louisiana. (AP Photo/Rich Matthews)
A brown pelican coated in heavy oil wallows in the surf June 4, 2010 on East Grand Terre Island, Louisiana. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
A sea turtle is mired in oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on Grand Terre Island, Louisiana June 8, 2010. (REUTERS/Lee Celano)
An exhausted oil-covered brown pelican tries to climb over an oil containment boom along Queen Bess Island Pelican Rookery, 3 miles northeast of Grand Isle, Louisiana June 5, 2010. Wildlife experts are working to rescue birds from the rookery which has been affected by BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and transporting them to the Fort Jackson Rehabilitation Center. (REUTERS/Sean Gardner)
Brown Pelicans, covered in oil from BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill, huddle together in a cage at the International Bird Rescue Research Center in Buras, Louisiana June 6, 2010. (REUTERS/Lee Celano)
Oil covered brown pelicans found off the Louisiana coast and affected by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico wait in a holding pen for cleaning at the Fort Jackson Oiled Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Buras, Louisiana, June 9, 2010. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Hermit crabs struggle to cross a patch of oil from the the Deepwater Horizon spill on a barrier island near East Grand Terre Island, Louisiana on Sunday, June 6, 2010. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
A dead young egret covered in oil from the Deepwater Horizon wellhead is turned over to wildlife rescue team near Bird Island in Barataria Bay, Louisiana just off the Gulf of Mexico June 7, 2010. (REUTERS/Jose Luis Magana/Greenpeace)
Marine reef ecologist Scott Porter works to remove oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill from his hands on Monday, June 7, 2010, in the Gulf of Mexico south of Venice, Louisiana. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
[The Big Picture]
How far might the oil spread?
I’ve had a lot of people ask me, ‘Will the oil reach Florida?’” says NCAR scientist Synte Peacock, who worked on the study. “Actually, our best knowledge says the scope of this environmental disaster is likely to reach far beyond Florida, with impacts that have yet to be understood.”