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Dustin LindenSmith

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on the Deepwater Horizon accident

If you have iTunes, you should listen to the May 16th 2010 edition of the audio podcast for CBS's 60 Minutes. Here's the iTunes link to that podcast -- just look for the May 16th episode on the Deepwater Horizon:

http://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/60-minutes-full-audio/id81210923

More background with some transcripts are available here:

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/05/16/60minutes/main6490197.shtml

It's a truly shocking story that I haven't heard told in the regular media aside from this show. Essentially, an electrical engineer who was successfully rescued from the rig described how, in the days leading up to the disaster, the BOP was damaged significantly through a simple human error (some pipe was thrust through it or something, breaking the rubber seal and sending many pieces of rubber up the pipes to the rig).

However, while SOP would normally completely see the rig's operations completely shut down while that mission-critical piece of equipment was repaired, it was decided by the rig's managers (but ultimately by BP, I surmise) that operations would continue due to the staggering deadlines that had been missed by that rig thus far. Then when the fateful accident occurred, the BOP was out of commission and we arrived where we are today.

If you have some time to listen to the whole segment in that podcast, it's really shocking and moving at the same time. I hope that a suitable investigation gets to the bottom of this and that the right heads will roll as a result. I have a certain amount of confidence in the safety practices of deep water drilling operations such that they would normally not operate when such an important piece of equipment was out of commission, but I'm relying on the rig managers to make the right decisions in that circumstance. If this survivor's story is correct, then there wasn't some mysterious malfunction with the BOP -- it was just fucking broken in the days leading up to the accident!

Also, FYI, here's a link to a live feed from BP's remote-operated vehicles at the well head:

http://www.bp.com/liveassets/bp_internet/globalbp/globalbp_uk_english/homepage/STAGING/local_assets/bp_homepage/html/rov_stream.html

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jdquintette June 2nd, 2010
I hope that a suitable investigation gets to the bottom of this and that the right heads will roll as a result.

Well that sure would be nice, but there's very little chance of that happening. There's simply no precedent for it, for one thing. Out of all the fucktardery and mendacious incompetence on display here in the aftermath of Katrina, the only 'head' that 'rolled' was Michael "heckuva job" Brown. His superior, Michael Chertoff, who bore easily as much or more culpability, was never even formally reprimanded. Dick Cheney admitted instigating the practice of waterboarding (a war crime we imprisoned and in some cases executed Japanese military personell for after WWII) on national television and has never suffered any consequences for it. Oh, and that rig was manufactured by Halliburton, the man's got his greasy little fingers in everything.

In this country "accountability" is for the poor and disenfranchised. The wealthy and well connected get a pass.

I have a certain amount of confidence in the safety practices of deep water drilling operations such that they would normally not operate when such an important piece of equipment was out of commission, but I'm relying on the rig managers to make the right decisions in that circumstance

All the confidence in the world in 'safety practises' is meaningless if they are ignored, and it is absolutely not news to anyone who works offshore in the gulf that this happens all the time when there'spressure to get a well into production. The industry is currently, for all intents and purposes, self-regulating, the result of 30 years of political collusion with the oil industry.

Safety violations are routine in the industry and happen all the time. There is no real oversight from the feds, and what few regulations there are are not enforced. This had to happen sooner or later and if past experience is any guide (Santa Barbara in 1969, Exxon Valdez in the 80s etc) we'll learn nothing and eventually carry on as before.

iamom June 3rd, 2010
I can't disagree with any of that. But I also think that the costs of massive oil spills like this probably usually function as a sufficient disincentive for companies to fuck up their safety practices as badly as was done here. No company in its right mind would willingly be this lax unless they were incredibly negligent, which is clearly the case here. In some measure (at least inasmuch as spills like this don't seem too common), the self-regulation is working. Sort of.

Of course, there's a very good argument for having the sort of regulatory and enforcement climate which works towards a truly zero-tolerance policy for this kind of thing, which I think should totally happen. And all the related issues you raised in your comment work strongly against that ever happening. I really wish that heads would roll, however. And I don't understand why Greenpeace activists who smear anti-corporate slogans in crude oil on the side of drilling rigs are arrested, while BP CEO Tony Hayward doesn't even get charges leveled against him when he admits that BP didn't have the right equipment in place to prevent this from happening. WTF!!!

jdquintette June 3rd, 2010
And I don't understand why Greenpeace activists who smear anti-corporate slogans in crude oil on the side of drilling rigs are arrested, while BP CEO Tony Hayward doesn't even get charges leveled against him when he admits that BP didn't have the right equipment in place to prevent this from happening. WTF!!!

See my previous comment regarding the "Rich and Well Connected-lack of accountibility therof" :-P Greenpeace are 'eco-terrorists," Tony Hayward is a respectable businessman. One of the Tribe.

BTW, my friend Lou Maistros has invented a drink called the Tony Hayward. To prepare one, the bartender takes a shit in your beer, then tells you it's not as bad as it looks. Disperse with Bengal Roach Fogger and serve. Cheers!

No company in its right mind would willingly be this lax unless they were incredibly negligent, which is clearly the case here. In some measure (at least inasmuch as spills like this don't seem too common), the self-regulation is working. Sort of.

I think yyou're attributing a form of "logic" to corporate culture which it often does not possess. No company (or group of companies) in it's "right mind" would package dubious financial derivitives together and sell them as gold-plated securities, thereby driving the entire world economy off a cliff, either. But they did, because corporate culture is not sane, or logical. It's short sighted and entirely self interested. That's the fatal flaw in theories like Randian Objectivism, the assumption that business, acting in "rational self-interest," will somehow achieve the greatest good for the greatest number through the "invisible hand' of the marketplace.

"Rational self-interst" is not a defining characteristic of the human species. If it was, there'd be no war or famine.

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