As an understatement, what a difference 50 days can make. On April 20th, just two days prior to Earth Day, BP announced to the world that one of their behemoth oil rigs, the Deepwater Horizon, had exploded off the Gulf of Mexico and is afire. Tragically and ironically, the painful loss of eleven lives has been eclipsed by BP's lack of transparency and their inability to curtail the oil flowing out of the broken well-head, more than a mile below the water's surface.
Daily, thousands of barrels of crude oil have flowed unabated into the Gulf of Mexico. The initial projections were 1,000 barrels per day, with the most recent estimates jumping to more than 20,000 barrels per day. The latest efforts by BP to thwart the flow of oil from the well include mixing it with a vapor and then burning it with a piece of equipment called an 'Evergreen Burner'. BP claims there is minimal impact to the environment with this technique. Admittedly, much if not all of the information released by BP has come under intense scrutiny.
What began as headline news, quickly turned into tragedy, followed by frustration, anger and irreparable damage to the environment. The coastal states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida could do little more than simply wait as globs of crude oil reached shorelines and water ecosystems to defile aquatic and marine life, and soil. Our own US Government, supposedly the most powerful on earth, has been largely ineffective in taking responsibility, working with BP, and assuming control of the situation. A report published on May 21st described Kevin Costner's company that already possesses the technology and equipment to effectively separate the crude oil from the water.
What is truly unfathomable is how a company as large as BP, in possession of so many resources, can not create (and execute) a plan to shut off the well-head. Common sense dictates that such a sophisticated construction project as an oil rig and well in the middle of the gulf, should be accompanied with a contingency plan (or two) in the event of such a disaster as has occurred.
The absence of such a plan and/or the visible inability of BP to create one, raises serious questions regarding their competency, organizational structure, ability, integrity and consequent culpability as a legitimate business. Political correctness aside, it is due time that a concerted command and control survival approach be taken to 'stop the bleeding' and minimize environmental damage; and hold BP exclusively accountable.
The interactive timeline chart of the BP Gulf Oil Disaster below is courtesy of Gizmodo: