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Unctuous Gunk in the Bayous
May 20, 2010 7:36 AM   Subscribe

Oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill hits the Louisiana wetlands. More photos here. Meanwhile, the state department confirms US officials have begun talks with Cuba about how to help the small island nation deal with the environmental impacts of the disaster. And as McClatchy and other news agencies are now reporting, the latest independent scientific estimates appear to confirm a rate of flow much higher than BP has previously been willing to acknowledge, in the likely range of 95,000 barrels a day, amounting to roughly an Exxon Valdez size spill every three days. Meanwhile, ProPublica reports that the industry seems intent on keeping the lid on just how bad things really are in the Gulf, and quotes company spokesmen as saying that the actual rate and amount of flow is “not relevant to the response effort.”
posted by saulgoodman (244 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by klanawa at 7:44 AM on May 20, 2010


FUUUUUUU
posted by jquinby at 7:49 AM on May 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


Large satellite picture of the spill here, it's also about to hit the Gulf loop current which is likely to spread it much more quickly.
posted by nfg at 7:50 AM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, the Coast Guard is threatening journalists with arrest for filming oil-encrusted beaches, citing "BP's Rules".
posted by tybeet at 7:50 AM on May 20, 2010 [18 favorites]


"...spokesmen as saying that the actual rate and amount of flow is 'not relevant to the response effort.'..."

Christ, what an asshole.

Honestly, why (we || our media || anybody at all) have been so willing to believe anything at all that comes out of the mouths of BP execs over this is completely fucking beyond me. This is terrible
posted by kaseijin at 7:51 AM on May 20, 2010 [13 favorites]


Goddamnit.
posted by craven_morhead at 7:52 AM on May 20, 2010


Tybeat: is that covered anywhere besides HuffPo? I'd like to re-post that, but I know people will gripe about the source.
posted by kaseijin at 7:54 AM on May 20, 2010


so willing to believe anything at all that comes out of the mouths of BP execs...

All the spokesman needs is some green fatigues and a black beret to complete the picture.
posted by jquinby at 7:59 AM on May 20, 2010


This is does not look good.
posted by chugg at 8:00 AM on May 20, 2010


Honestly, why (we || our media || anybody at all) have been so willing to believe anything at all that comes out of the mouths of BP execs over this is completely fucking beyond me.

The system is designed to protect the rights of the rich and powerful. Exhibit A: the Coast Guard is threatening journalists with arrest for filming oil-encrusted beaches, citing "BP's Rules".
posted by DU at 8:00 AM on May 20, 2010 [7 favorites]


Oh my god it is so bad. Total cyberpunk epic eco-disaster. Gulf of Mexico: RIP
posted by fuq at 8:00 AM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


More at Gawker re: the Coast Guard.
posted by jquinby at 8:01 AM on May 20, 2010


Tybeat: is that covered anywhere besides HuffPo? I'd like to re-post that, but I know people will gripe about the source.

You can use this link to share the video HuffPo embedded (which originates on cbsnews.com).
posted by tybeet at 8:03 AM on May 20, 2010


What!? You can be arrested for taking a camera to the beach?! How the hell can "BP's Rules" be an arrestable law? I thought we had some other process to make our laws than company rules? Why does the Coast Guard think they are beholden to BP? Just who do they answer to?
posted by Balisong at 8:03 AM on May 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


So this is it. We're going to die.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:03 AM on May 20, 2010


Just in case anyone was thinking it was impossible to find more evil, mendacious sociopaths than those Wall Street banker fucks. . . .
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:03 AM on May 20, 2010 [15 favorites]


Tybeat: is that covered anywhere besides HuffPo? I'd like to re-post that, but I know people will gripe about the source.

kaseijin, propublica has it, and their story links to CBS's coverage.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:04 AM on May 20, 2010


Balisong: I'd bet it's some complete perversion of property law. Some way, shape, or other, BP has probably declared that since they brought that crude out of the ground, then it is their "property."
posted by kaseijin at 8:06 AM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wonder if it's a health angle - if the stuff is toxic, no one on the beach w/o authorization, or something along those lines.
posted by jquinby at 8:07 AM on May 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


I wish that journalist had said "Ok, arrest me". I'm sure CBS has armies of lawyers who would love to go to the mat for that one and the publicity might have prevented that BS strong-arming in the future.
posted by ghharr at 8:07 AM on May 20, 2010 [12 favorites]


I'd bet it's some complete perversion of property law.

I bet it's "safety".
posted by DU at 8:07 AM on May 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


Here's the print version at CBS.

What weiner reporters, they didn't have the stomach to defy a bunch of rent-a-cops and two totally out-of-line Coast Guarders?
posted by anthill at 8:07 AM on May 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yeah, "safety" is a good bet, too. Either way, it's a total crock.
posted by kaseijin at 8:08 AM on May 20, 2010


Why does the Coast Guard think they are beholden to BP? Just who do they answer to?

This is the making explicit of what has for decades been implicit.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:10 AM on May 20, 2010 [18 favorites]


Right now every journalist should be swarming that beach, and spitting in the face of that King Clip-On Tie asshole when he tries to stop them.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 8:10 AM on May 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


Water enters the Gulf through the Yucatan Strait, circulates as the Loop Current, and exits through the Florida Strait eventually forming the Gulf Stream.

Oil from this incident could end up all over the North Atlantic.
posted by Danf at 8:11 AM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Speaking of cyberpunk eco-disasters, are there no independent journalists in Zodiacs out there filming this?
posted by anthill at 8:11 AM on May 20, 2010 [7 favorites]


This whole goddamn thing makes me so profoundly upset on so many levels.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 8:12 AM on May 20, 2010 [18 favorites]


What weiner reporters, they didn't have the stomach to defy a bunch of rent-a-cops and two totally out-of-line Coast Guarders?

Oh, I think getting "U.S. Coast Guard Works for British Petroleum" on tape is pretty good, but you're right that "CBS Reporter Gunned Down by BP-Controlled U.S. Coast Guard" would have been way better.
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:13 AM on May 20, 2010


For a country that can send something to the moon, stopping an oil leak just off our shores seems to be impossible. I wonder how US 1960s would have handled this? Probably with Atomic Power!
Another random news link that I have yet to see any abundant credible reporting on is the idea of using hay to soak up the spilled oil.
posted by msbutah at 8:14 AM on May 20, 2010


msbutah, we've been over that idea before.
posted by anthill at 8:18 AM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


...doom doom DOOM-doom-doom DOOM DOOM-doom doom-doom PRE-OILED SELF FUELING SHRIMP ON THE BARBIE ARE NUUUUMMMY doom-DOOM doom doom...

Great. I think I've been technically singing Gir's Doom Song for longer than Gir did.
posted by loquacious at 8:18 AM on May 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


Why does the Coast Guard think they are beholden to BP? Just who do they answer to?

I think you just answered your own question.

In other "oil companies are more powerful than the government" news, Republicans have twice voted to block legislation to raise oil companies' liability cap above the current $75 million.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:19 AM on May 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


Paging Anonymous $5 sockpuppet to bring some knowledge, please...
posted by anthill at 8:20 AM on May 20, 2010


Yes, shame on the journalists. I mean this sincerely. I am a father, a husband, a member of the community, and I would have gladly been arrested and tried over this. You have to draw a line in the gooey, lifeless sand sometimes. You have to say, "you know what? Arrest me. Arrest me and expose the even bigger story that lurks behind this monumental disaster. Arrest me in the name of BP. Arrest me, for I will not leave this beach of my own volition. Arrest me and explain what law I have broken." That, I think, is what a real journalist would have done.
posted by Mister_A at 8:21 AM on May 20, 2010 [25 favorites]


Since they are now pulling more than 5,000 barrels/day out of their capture tube, they've had to finally admit that the well might actually be leaking more than 5,000 barrels a day
posted by kaszeta at 8:21 AM on May 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


Of course people can't take pictures. It's their oil.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 8:22 AM on May 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Horrible.

Silly question - if the oil enters the Gulf loop, might that be an improvement over the current (sorry) situation? My first instinct was also "Ack! Oil everywhere!" but wouldn't the oil be less harmful if dispersed over a much larger area? That is, the concentration per unit of ocean area would end up much smaller.

I know nothing about fluid dynamics though - maybe the oil "stays together" for the most part due to the way the currents/temperature/relative viscosity works.

Anyone have any ideas? This is not to minimize the disaster of course; I'm just curious.
posted by freecellwizard at 8:22 AM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


.
posted by Theta States at 8:22 AM on May 20, 2010


I wonder how US 1960s would have handled this? Probably with Atomic Power!

Didn't some russian group already suggest simply sealing off the well by a "small" nuclear explosion? I wonder if that might not have been the eco-friendlier alternative by now...
posted by Cironian at 8:22 AM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


They apparently used to nuke leaking wells shut in Russia. At this point, uh, yeah. A little underwater radiation is probably the least of our worries.

But the last thing I want to do is directly give BP or any petroleum company nuclear warheads.

Also, I read somewhere else that BP could have solved this and properly cleaned it up with a mere 4 days worth of profits, but... yeah. Hey BP, oil companies and everyone else in the multinational globefucking corps? You know what they say about parasites not killing off their hosts, right? Oh, you haven't. I forgot you were fucking shortsighted idiots.
posted by loquacious at 8:24 AM on May 20, 2010


They apparently used to nuke leaking wells shut in Russia

I think Anonymous $5 Sockpuppet said something about the North Sea being much shallower, but this leak is so far down that an explosion is not much help. Or something.
posted by Think_Long at 8:26 AM on May 20, 2010


What about the massive pool of oil near the ocean floor, which apparently dwarfs the surface slick? Can that get pulled into the loop current, too? Does all that oil eventually come to the surface or does it remain trapped in the depths due to pressure and temperature or something? Serious question.
posted by The Straightener at 8:27 AM on May 20, 2010


“It seems baffling that we don’t know how much oil is being spilled,” Sylvia Earle, a famed oceanographer, said Wednesday on Capitol Hill. “It seems baffling that we don’t know where the oil is in the water column.”
posted by dirigibleman at 8:27 AM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well known-current modelers show traces for possible oil trajectories here.

Links to specific pages:
Particles at depth
Particles below the mixing layer (the top layer of the ocean)
Daily trajectories of the oil since the beginning of the spill
Speculative model of possible spill trajectory if it get in the loop current
- Scenario 1
- Scenario 2
- Scenario 3
- Scenario 4

At this point, the oil escaping the Gulf is speculative. It does appear possible, but do note that some of the Scenarios have the oil recirculating as well.
posted by Anonymous 5$ Sockpuppet at 8:28 AM on May 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


Good model of the Gulf current here from the US Navy:
http://www7320.nrlssc.navy.mil/hycomGOM/glfmex.html
posted by Anonymous 5$ Sockpuppet at 8:29 AM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I bet it's "safety".

BP is obviously just trying to keep the press out, but honestly I think it's goofy that people are anywhere near this stuff without protective gear. The photos on CNN of people handling ziplock bags full of oil without even wearing gloves makes me cringe. I hope this doesn't turn out like 9/11 where the EPA didn't tell everyone to wear respirators and as a result a lot of people developed long term respiratory problems.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:30 AM on May 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


The man in black has left the island.
posted by mecran01 at 8:30 AM on May 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


Why does the Coast Guard think they are beholden to BP? Just who do they answer to?

When I was in the Coast Guard, we'd have been all about HAMMERING BP for this shit, but that was the '90s, I guess. (Yeah, I know, I'm 35 and I sound like Grandpa Simpson already.) The notion that the Coast Guard is somehow involved in covering this up disturbs the hell out of me.

That reporter should've told those guys to fuck off and done his thing. I cannot imagine the legal grounds on which they could've blocked him. Believe it or not, Coasties don't tend to have itchy trigger fingers -- they use the guns to stop drug running boats more often than one hears about, but past that, I don't think any Coastie would be eager to be the guy who gunned down a reporter, y'know?
posted by scaryblackdeath at 8:31 AM on May 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


Eexcellent imagery of the spill so far from ROFFs, a commercial weather service in the Gulf. Note that the movies on the bottom page show the loop current very clearly in the satellite data. It's hard to see the spill on these images, but if you look for a small silver spiral in the upper left quadrant, that's it. It's indicated with an arrow on one of the movies.
posted by Anonymous 5$ Sockpuppet at 8:32 AM on May 20, 2010


Everyone's complaining about oil rates and other things that don't really matter. It is easy to get the hate on, but the most glaring omission from all the reports seems to be the disregard by BP to come to the top kill / cement solution immediately after the BOP failed to engage. Why wouldn't they do this in the immediate 3-4 days after the accident? Let's look at what they tried before going to this, most obvious solution:

1. Engage the BOP which would have left the well largely intact and saved BP the huge losses they are sure to take from this. Which failed.
2. A giant containment dome that would have allowed BP to continue oil extraction from the well. This failed.
3. Arterial stent which would allow extraction from the broken pipeline. Partial failure.

I have no doubt they are speaking in good faith when they say they are doing all they can. Oil companies do not have plans that involve destroying very expensive investments. Anyone who has ever worked for a large organization knows how this sort inertia can happen, it is not malicious, it is classic herd behavior.

What is most alarming is that no government organization stepped in with an edict to shut off the well and abandon any sort of recovery effort. This is just the sort of fecklessness that we railed against when Bush and the GOP were in power. The only difference seems to be a public shaming of BP versus Bush's MBA optimism of telling us how good of a job we're doing while laying us off, or in MBA speak, right sizing.

I have no doubt there will be further scolding and BP will have to pay out some crazy amount of money that they'll recoup through some complicated shell game of tax avoidance and operational cuts that caused this thing in the first place. If the consequences of an oil spill are so great, they shouldn't be left in the hands of a private company. No one will dare speak of nationalizing oil companies* for fear of the crazy right's Hugo Chavez comparisons, but at the very least bind and gag it, make it transparent and have safety measures in place that are comparable to the risks.

* Which again, I have no idea why this isn't plausible, we don't have enough oil to control prices or manipulate the market ... even OPEC doesn't have that now. Drill it out, pump it and sell it like treasury bonds. When accidents happen, and they do happen, have a secondary agency oversea the efforts, keep self-interested parties out of it.
posted by geoff. at 8:32 AM on May 20, 2010 [23 favorites]


Pope Guilty: This is the making explicit of what has for decades been implicit.


Decades? You got sources on that?
posted by scaryblackdeath at 8:33 AM on May 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


If the oil escaped up the east coast it would probably be better in the long run... get some tar balls on Martha's Vinyard and that $75m liability cap would be gone in a heartbeat.
posted by anthill at 8:33 AM on May 20, 2010 [15 favorites]


I love Louisiana and the bayou all down around there, in Mississippi and Alabama. I love the world really but that's one of the greatest parts.

Love hurts.
posted by doteatop at 8:34 AM on May 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Obama-man why won't you save us? Why hast though foresaken us?

"I bailed you out/when you were down on your knees/so won't you catch me now I'm falling.....this is Captain America callin"
posted by spicynuts at 8:38 AM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Oil Drum and its comments section are a great resource for anyone who really wants to follow and understand what is happening under the surface right now. It seems to be one of the sources that the MSM is probing for leads, as well.

I have also created a Twitter list that is pretty focused on the spill and its effects. Easy way to monitor current events.

Supposedly, a live feed of the leak will be available on U.S. Rep Markey's web site per this release. As of now, it's not up.

There are a number of sites that are monitoring/predicting location of the discharge: FSU, Roff's, and USF.
posted by ajr at 8:38 AM on May 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


But the last thing I want to do is directly give BP or any petroleum company nuclear warheads.

Thanks for the nightmares, loquacious. I'll be humming "Who's Next?" for the rest of the day now.

Why the fuck is the US government not fining BP US$500,000,000 a day for ever day they don't stop the flow?
posted by QIbHom at 8:39 AM on May 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


seafood festival canceled

Fishermen Report Illness From BP Chemicals Toxicologist Says Chemicals Harmful, Can Lead To Death
posted by msconduct at 8:39 AM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


anthill: "If the oil escaped up the east coast it would probably be better in the long run... get some tar balls on Martha's Vinyard and that $75m liability cap would be gone in a heartbeat."

Are you blaming Teddy Kennedy for the US$75m liability cap? Hate to tell you, he died.
posted by QIbHom at 8:43 AM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Corporate death penalty. And jail time for high-ranking executives.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:46 AM on May 20, 2010 [29 favorites]


Hate to tell you, he died.

Nor did he live on the Vineyard.
posted by rollbiz at 8:48 AM on May 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


For a country that can send something to the moon, stopping an oil leak just off our shores seems to be impossible.

The bottom of the sea is, in some ways, a more challenging environment than outer space. Still, I'm with you. I think the answer is probably close to what geoff mentioned–BP doesn't want to destroy its investment in this well. They are clinging to the possibility of getting it back on line and producing in the future, to the detriment of pretty much everyone.
posted by Mister_A at 8:48 AM on May 20, 2010


This makes me want to hit people. Not exactly a productive feeling, but there it is.
posted by rtha at 8:49 AM on May 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


And yes! Yes to corporate death penalty. I would love to see their assets sold at auction.
posted by Mister_A at 8:50 AM on May 20, 2010


For a country that can send something to the moon, stopping an oil leak just off our shores seems to be impossible.

Yes, but... It's not "this country" which is actually making the effort. It's BP, and BP only.

Why the FUCK don't we have some of our nation's best and brightest working to stop this thing, even on the public dime? This is WAY past just being some little environmental thing which the corporation should fix. This is heading toward something much more cataclysmic. Get the fuckin' military in there, or something! MAKE IT STOP LEAKING!
posted by hippybear at 8:52 AM on May 20, 2010 [7 favorites]


I do feel like FFF is on to something, a bit...even if his particular suggestion would never come to pass.

It's really unsettling (and both this event and the recent Wall St. crashes REALLY help to underscore this) that we have completely bent over backwards to afford our corporations all of the rights of personhood and citizenship (free speech as opposed to commercial speech, privacy in political contributions, etc, etc), but we have done absolutely fuck all to impose any of the consequences of personhood on them. Where are equivalent penalties for laws broken?

I think it's high time that we dismantle the entire "corporate citizen" structure we have in place presently. I think it's time, but I really don't think it will happen. Money doesn't talk; its shouts fill the entire goddamned room.
posted by kaseijin at 8:53 AM on May 20, 2010 [23 favorites]


There needs to be an international campaign to punch BP execs in the face until this leak is sealed and damage contained. Until then, any person from any land can walk up to a BP exec, Say Hey, and then sock them one.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:54 AM on May 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


When can we start imprisoning people for this? And I'm not talking fines and white-collar prisons either; I mean hard-time. The government needs to send a message all the way up the ladder to every CEO & Board Member that they are responsible for the damage they do.
posted by sswiller at 8:59 AM on May 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


> ...but we have done absolutely fuck all to impose any of the consequences of personhood on them.

Privatize the profits, socialize the risk. That's how it's worked for quite a while, now.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:59 AM on May 20, 2010 [8 favorites]


The thing to do at this point is seize the well, seal it and/or blow it up -- whichever stops the flow -- and then present BP with the bill.

And then hold them for all the damages yet to be calculated.

All Obama's gotta do is declare that well a clear threat to national security. Hell, it'd give him a chance to dare the Republicans to be soft on defending the nation (though, granted, there's nobody to shoot...). But, again, he'd have to suffer the wrath of corporate donors for that, and we all know how scaaaarrry that'd be.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:00 AM on May 20, 2010 [12 favorites]


Folks, when this thing gets captured by the Gulf stream and rounds the cape of Florida, a whole new dimension of hurt is upon us. Fortunately, those tar balls that hit the Keys are likely not from the leaking well off Louisiana.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:02 AM on May 20, 2010


"I think it's high time that we dismantle the entire "corporate citizen" structure we have in place presently. I think it's time, but I really don't think it will happen. Money doesn't talk; its shouts fill the entire goddamned room."

While on this topic, I would also like to point to the connection between this and our absolutely abysmal wealth distribution in the US. You want to know why money is such a problem in Washington? Because so few have so goddamned much.

It's easy to get all happy, warm, and fuzzy when we think how much better off we (on a personal level) have it than some laborer in the third world, but let's not forget that our Gini coefficient *is* that of a third world nation. We have an obscene imbalance of wealth in the US. The only difference between us and the countries we're thankful we're not is the scale involved...but out of whack is out of whack regardless of inflating the numbers.

When you concentrate wealth into the hands of a pitiful few, you proportionately increase the influence that wealth has on policy.

I realize this sounds like some sort of commie screed, but it's not. It's just fucking sick that our masters CEO's have so much relative to their employees. It does not work this way everywhere.
posted by kaseijin at 9:02 AM on May 20, 2010 [16 favorites]


Those fucking assholes. The government should seize the company, sell off enough of the assets to pay for the clean-up, give the rest to the people of the affected states.
posted by From Bklyn at 9:05 AM on May 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


"The thing to do at this point is seize the well, seal it and/or blow it up -- whichever stops the flow -- and then present BP with the bill.

And then hold them for all the damages yet to be calculated.
"

Absolutely. The well is a threat to your national security at this point, and should be treated as one.
posted by Kevin Street at 9:07 AM on May 20, 2010


What is most alarming is that no government organization stepped in with an edict to shut off the well and abandon any sort of recovery effort.

And then BP sues for loss of future income from the well.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:09 AM on May 20, 2010


posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:33 AM on May 20 [+] [!]

I had to look at your profile to confirm you hadn't picked that name just for this thread.
posted by desjardins at 9:10 AM on May 20, 2010


The thing to do at this point is seize the well, seal it and/or blow it up -- whichever stops the flow -- and then present BP with the bill.

What I wonder/worry though is, does the Federal government even have the technical expertise needed to pull off this kind of operation? It seems to me that one of the major downsides to our allowing more and more public functions and formerly public infrastructure development projects to be privatized over the years is that now, the technical know-how needed to deal with large scale public disasters like this are all held in the private sector.

I mean, what entity in the Federal government would have the know-how to pull this off? The Army Corp of Engineers? Do they have enough practical experience with the kinds of engineering problems that apply to deep sea drilling operations to do anything but make the situation worse by getting involved? I'm really curious. What government body is/should be capable of intervening in a man-made disaster like this? It kind of makes sense to treat it as a national security issue, but would it be practical to do that, or just cause more harm?
posted by saulgoodman at 9:10 AM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I say bring it, BP. Sue the US govt in a US court. Beware of counter-suits you dumb fucks.
posted by Mister_A at 9:12 AM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Decades? You got sources on that?

Standard Oil. DOW Chemical. Rocketdyne. The Bhopal Disaster. Rocky Flats. Monsanto. Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Chernobyl. Three Mile Island. The Hanford Site. The recent TVA coal ash spill. Love Canal. Exxon Valdez - which they weaseled out of paying the full fine for just recently. Whatever the name of the tanker was that spilled off the coast of the beaches I grew up on and closed the beaches for a year and killed off most of the fish and birds.

In almost every single one of these incidents we're told by calm, rational PR spokesman to stay calm and rational and that it's really not that bad while they're frantically trying to sweep it under the carpet before we see how bad it really is instead of actually spending some of their own money to fix the problem. Profits first!

Oh, here's a big list of stuff, and this isn't even everything: Industrial accidents and incidents. Industrial disasters.
posted by loquacious at 9:12 AM on May 20, 2010 [17 favorites]


I think it's high time that we dismantle the entire "corporate citizen" structure we have in place presently.

"If the system had one neck, you know I'd gladly break it..."
posted by quin at 9:13 AM on May 20, 2010


Corporate death penalty. And jail time for high-ranking executives.

Yes. The executives are certainly responsible for some bad calls made on the rig platform and should be dealt with by death.

HAMBURGER?
posted by Big_B at 9:14 AM on May 20, 2010


BP is obviously just trying to keep the press out, but honestly I think it's goofy that people are anywhere near this stuff without protective gear. The photos on CNN of people handling ziplock bags full of oil without even wearing gloves makes me cringe.

It doesn't excuse it, but safety is probably the reason. It's also the reason nobody wants to use volunteers in the US.

It's well known that oil spills are dangerous to be around. Volunteers who helped clean the shores of France and Spain during the Erika and Prestige spills had permanent lung damage. Problems were reported for clean-up workers on the Tasman Spirit. The first reports of long-term effects from the (1,000,000+!) volunteers on the Heibei Spirit in Korea are just starting to come out. (These are all journal articles, most of which will require a subscription. You should be able to read the abstracts, however.)

Oil spills are dangerous, and the dangers are frequently under-estimated. Cancer and lung-disease are common complaints in clean-up crews. Keeping the general public (and reporters out) is a liability issue for BP (and the CG). What the press should be doing is getting proper protective equipment.
posted by Anonymous 5$ Sockpuppet at 9:15 AM on May 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yes. The executives are certainly responsible for some bad calls made on the rig platform and should be dealt with by death.

I think the point was to give a penalty of death to the corporation as a legal entity, not to its executives. But I may be misreading.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:17 AM on May 20, 2010 [7 favorites]


The executives are certainly responsible for some bad calls

"Bad calls." Yeah, that's all they were. Bad calls!
posted by blucevalo at 9:17 AM on May 20, 2010 [7 favorites]


The executives are certainly responsible for some bad calls made on the rig platform and should be dealt with by death.

You totally just made that shit right the fuck up. Nobody said it.
posted by enn at 9:17 AM on May 20, 2010


Nevermind. Apparently the term "corporate dealth penalty" was not part of my lexicon today. Or I need more coffee.
posted by Big_B at 9:18 AM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


No, you've got it there saulgoodman.
posted by Mister_A at 9:18 AM on May 20, 2010


"What I wonder/worry though is, does the Federal government even have the technical expertise needed to pull off this kind of operation?"

Probably not, though I imagine they could temporarily draft anybody they needed to figure this out from the oil companies. Maybe the engineers would even volunteer to help. But the really big stumbling block to the US government getting more involved is probably just liability. Right now it's BP's fault, but if the federal government tried and failed to stop the oil, they'd be just as culpable in the public mind as the company that caused the disaster in the first place.
posted by Kevin Street at 9:18 AM on May 20, 2010


I think the point was to give a penalty of death to the corporation as a legal entity, not to its executives.

... why do we have to choose?
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 9:21 AM on May 20, 2010 [11 favorites]


Right now it's BP's fault, but if the federal government tried and failed to stop the oil, they'd be just as culpable in the public mind as the company that caused the disaster in the first place.

If anyone in the government at this point still thinks that sitting back and waiting is going to somehow make them less culpable in the public mind they are making a serious miscalculation. Look at the NYT piece today. As long as the government lets BP do whatever it wants, the government gets blamed for both its failures and BP's failures.
posted by enn at 9:22 AM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


We won't have to worry about welcoming any galactic overlords now; they won't want us.

Except, maybe for a garbage dump.
posted by _paegan_ at 9:24 AM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


All Obama's gotta do is declare that well a clear threat to national security. Hell, it'd give him a chance to dare the Republicans to be soft on defending the nation (though, granted, there's nobody to shoot...). But, again, he'd have to suffer the wrath of corporate donors for that, and we all know how scaaaarrry that'd be.

This, or something like it. It's all well and good to line up for a chance to dick-punch a BP exec, but really it's in their corporate DNA to cut corners, lie and shill, and deflect responsibility. It's the government's job, and always has been, to regulate their everyday ops (too late for that, alas) and hold them to full account for their oversights.

I'm living in an idealistic dreamworld, I know, but this is one fucked up situation. Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria. It's so fucked up, in fact, that I'm reduced to doing something I'd have thought impossible even a week ago: I'm linking to Thomas "Flathead" Friedman, favourably, as the author of one of the most strident and lucid commentaries I've found on how Obama and his crew of purported change agents could rediscover their collective mojo on this.

Standard Oil. DOW Chemical. Rocketdyne. The Bhopal Disaster. Rocky Flats. Monsanto. Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Chernobyl. Three Mile Island. The Hanford Site. The recent TVA coal ash spill. Love Canal. Exxon Valdez

On preview: Why be so oblique about this? How about the Nigerian consortium Shell-BP, which aided and abetted the brutal repression of the Ogoni in the Niger Delta for decades?
posted by gompa at 9:25 AM on May 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


http://cspan.org/Watch/Media/2010/05/19/HP/A/33124/House+Transportation+Infrastructure+Cmte+Hearing+on+the+Gulf+of+Mexico+Oil+Spill.aspx
posted by Shit Parade at 9:27 AM on May 20, 2010


Can we use BP/Halliburton/Transocean executives to mop up the oil? Or if that would be a violation of human rights, can we liquidate their net worth into US dollars, and use that to soak up the oil? It would help clean up an environmental disaster, reign in US dollar inflation, and provide sweet, sweet justice for everyone.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 9:27 AM on May 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Probably not, though I imagine they could temporarily draft anybody they needed to figure this out from the oil companies.

I can just imagine the PR shit-storm now: Politico reports: "US Government Taking Advice from Same Oil Industry Experts Responsible for Spill in Latest Failed Efforts to Stop Flow."

As long as the government lets BP do whatever it wants, the government gets blamed for both its failures and BP's failures.

Agreed, but... The American public is responsible for embracing Reaganism and the Free-Market Uber Alles mindset that's dominated our politics for the past few decades. If the capability isn't there because we've systematically dismantled it, it just isn't there now, whether we think it ought to be or not.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:29 AM on May 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


Decades? You got sources on that?

The lines between corporate and government power in the US have been blurry for a long time; where do you think the phrase "banana republic" comes from?
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:31 AM on May 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


NPR is now also reporting that part of the spill has already reached the loop current.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:33 AM on May 20, 2010


With the dead birds that will soon be hitting our shorelines, it's nice of BP to provide us with all the raw materials needed for a good tar and feathering.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:33 AM on May 20, 2010 [10 favorites]


loquacious: I'm aware of the incidents you list, and the pattern there. My specific query on sources was with regard to the assertion that all the Coast Guard does, and has allegedly done for years, is back up corporate PR control. That was not at all my experience when I was in that service, nor has it been my impression of the Coast Guard since.

If that has somehow changed, or if there's evidence out there to challenge my understanding (moreso than the usual anti-military rantings often here on the blue), I'd like to see it.

The notion that the USCG has become more of a corporate ally in the last 15 years isn't as hard to swallow as the suggestion that it always has been.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:35 AM on May 20, 2010


When I was young, I used to watch Captain Planet with some regularity. I enjoyed it as a program, but even as a youngster I found some of the plotlines to be somewhat far fetched (yes, moreso than the jewelery based, elemental superhero).

It never made sense that the "Ecovillains" would just brazenly fuck up the environment for no real reason.

Well, there it is, I guess.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 9:35 AM on May 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Can we use BP/Halliburton/Transocean executives to mop up the oil?

Facebook Group: One Million Strong to plug the oil leak with BP and Halliburton Executives
posted by sswiller at 9:35 AM on May 20, 2010


where do you think the phrase "banana republic" comes from?

That's that clothing store owned by The Gap, right?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:40 AM on May 20, 2010


For four weeks, BP has been trying to stem the leak on several fronts, even taking e-mail suggestions for stopping the flow.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:45 AM on May 20, 2010


Excuse me while I go into an apoplectic rage. This makes me sick.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 9:45 AM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


What about the massive pool of oil near the ocean floor, which apparently dwarfs the surface slick? Can that get pulled into the loop current, too? Does all that oil eventually come to the surface or does it remain trapped in the depths due to pressure and temperature or something?

This has a lot of people concerned, myself included. The uncertainties around this are huge. First, it's not clear what they found is oil, or if it was oil, how much was there. Given the uncertainties, I think that's a fair, cautious statement.

It is plausible that the plumes could be oil. A test "blowout" with real methane and diesel fuel in Norway in 2000 found that only a fraction of the oil released at depth came up to the surface, between 10% to 30% in round numbers. That was at a shallower depth than the present incident, too.

Some studies (e.g. Chen, F., Yapa, P.D., "Modeling gas separation from a bent deepwater oil and gas jet/plume", (2004) Journal of Marine Systems, 45 (3-4), pp. 189-203.) suggest that the oil will be stripped of its more volatile compenets as it rises in a mixed cloud of methane gas and liquid oil bubbles. This "weathering" of the oil increases it's density and deceases buoyancy. Sediment mixing can also reduce the oil buoyancy. This might cause more oil to stay at depth.

The bottom line right now is, nobody knows. Sampling that far down is really hard. Doing the chemistry properly takes weeks. Some stuff can be done fast, like oxygen contents, but the rest have to be shipped back to a lab that can do detailed oil analysis, not just the standard industrial chemicals.

So, there are hints that the oil may be down there, but it's too early to say we know for sure. There are previous experiments and theoretical models which show that it's possible, even likely that oil is down at depth, but we need confirmation to know what's really going on, and that will take time.
posted by Anonymous 5$ Sockpuppet at 9:47 AM on May 20, 2010 [7 favorites]


First Heddy Lamar, now Kevin Costner:
British Petroleum - desperate for ideas - gave the okay to test six of Costner's gizmos this week, said BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles.

Costner's high-speed centrifuge machine has a Los Angeles-perfect name: "Ocean Therapy."

Placed on a barge, it sucks in large quantities of polluted water, separates out the oil and spits back 97% clean water.
posted by jenkinsEar at 9:48 AM on May 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


I mean... can we just... ...analogies don't work here. I have to approach it factually. Some people made some mistakes. Those mistakes are going to fuck up a lot of really important things for decades. A lot of people are going to be out of work, and some will get sick and die. Countless square miles of marine ecosystem are going to turn into dead zones. Countless miles of fragile and complex coastland are going to be covered in impossible to sanitize goo. Because some people made some mistakes. I mean, this goes beyond punching people in the face. It even goes beyond jail time. It's like, hey, here's something that's going to be like Katrina in its impact, except that Katrina is just "shit happens, what are ya gonna do?" but this is "people fucked up." As technology gets more and more advanced, the possibility increases that just a few people making just a few mistakes will have costlier and costlier side effects, up into "global disaster."

I really don't wonder anymore why CETI hasn't found anything yet. Because in a hundred years we'll have the technology such that "a few people making a few mistakes" would be able to wipe out the entire planet.

How can we match our tremendous, and exponentially increasing, technological leverage with the mental capacity we have that hasn't changed significantly in hundreds of thousands of years? Especially a mental capacity that underestimates the true cost of catastrophic failures when moderate benefit could be accrued? We see it in every industry, we see it in everything we do.

Yes, BP should be killed.

Shredded utterly into worthless parts, like a fancy car used in a drug run.

But what about the next massively leveraged technological fuck-up? Maybe... you know, maybe it's time we just stopped trying so hard to be awesome, and just became content to be good stewards of our increasingly fragile commons.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:50 AM on May 20, 2010 [20 favorites]


So what's the plan? So far I'm going with the monastic route. Retreat into urban monasteries of orgiastic excess until the final repentance? We'll make beer! Who's with me!?
posted by The Whelk at 9:51 AM on May 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


Send Sarah Palin down through the pipe with some spackle. She'd fix it right, you betcha!

I'm surprised no one here mentions the defusing agents being dumped in the gulf to keep the oil from forming a highly visible slick on the surface. I hear it said that stuff actually makes the spill even more toxic. But you know, some folks are so flag-wavy about environmental stuff you can't take their word any more than BP. (I grant the environmentalists at least have a healthier motivation than a corporate bottom line)
posted by Goofyy at 9:52 AM on May 20, 2010


N-thing the furious angry rage stuff. Never before have I so wanted to go on every blog in the world and type YOU FOOLS. I think you can determine fairly well how connected with reality someone is by how angry they are about this.

To pre-emptively reply to anyone who is says "getting angry doesn't help," getting angry provides motivation. Attempting to diffuse anger (and our culture is looking more and more like a long sequence of anger diffusion mechanisms), these days, really means that either nothing gets done, or someone eventually finds a way to snooker the angry people into seeing how something totally other is somehow the fault.

Has Glenn Beck or someone appeared on Fox News and trumpeted something about "See we're not running out" yet?
posted by JHarris at 9:55 AM on May 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm down with the beer part, not sure about these monk orgies though.
posted by Mister_A at 9:56 AM on May 20, 2010


It's nearly impossible for me to really get ahold of this because it's so terrible. You'd think that I'd get tired of saying that over the past 10 years, but no, not yet.
posted by codacorolla at 10:01 AM on May 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm surprised no one here mentions the defusing agents being dumped in the gulf to keep the oil from forming a highly visible slick on the surface. I hear it said that stuff actually makes the spill even more toxic.

Related: BPA told to use less toxic dispersants.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:02 AM on May 20, 2010


For another sense of scale: a truly horrifying HD picture of the extent of the oil, taken from NASA's Earth Observatory platform.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 10:02 AM on May 20, 2010


Has Glenn Beck or someone appeared on Fox News and trumpeted something about "See we're not running out" yet?

Shep Smith did a nice rant on Fox about how horrible this is & how inexcusable it is for BP's CEO to try to minimize it in public. But he's Fox's token relatively-sane-guy, so he doesn't really count.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:09 AM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


And yes! Yes to corporate death penalty. I would love to see their assets sold at auction.

can you imagine what a fortune 100 garage sale would look like?
posted by msconduct at 10:09 AM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


shoot! that link should have gone here
posted by msconduct at 10:10 AM on May 20, 2010


So far the 21st Century is like the end of The Return Of The King where you keep going oh it's gonna end now this has to be the end oh wait except instead of more adorable hobbits it's some horrifying catastrophe.
posted by The Whelk at 10:17 AM on May 20, 2010 [9 favorites]


Can the administration declare a state of emergency and overtake this entire project? I had read that conventional explosives could be used to close this well off, but does BP have the incentive to do that since that is from their perspective potentially one of the worst outcomes. Shouldn't the administration just stop the operations and send the military's engineers in on this?
posted by scunning at 10:17 AM on May 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


ProPublica's got more here now on the issues surrounding the dispersants being used in the spill response. A couple of the more ulcer-agitating highlights from the article:
With at least 655,000 gallons of the chemicals already in the Gulf, it is the largest application of dispersants in the history of U.S. oil spills, according to the EPA.

What’s more, the EPA and the Coast Guard had allowed BP to spray the Corexit dispersants underwater, near the source of the spill–a method that has never been used and is not the recommended application of the Corexit products, according to the EPA’s website. Independent scientists recently discovered giant plumes of dispersed oil forming in the deep waters of the Gulf and told The New York Times they suspected the undersea application of dispersants were a possible cause.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:20 AM on May 20, 2010


Hm. So on that note of sieze it and seal it/blow it up... Could it be that BP has quietly made the argument that if they LOSE this well and still be stuck with the bill, they'll be bankrupted as a company? Like maybe BP's got the same house-of-cards thing going that all the financials had?

I don't follow a whole lot of business news. My impression of it was that BP, like the other major oil guys, had enough cash to create swimming pools of gold coins like Scrooge McDuck. Is there reason to believe this isn't the case, and that Deepwater Horizon's loss (and the clean-up bill) would be an insurmountable loss?

Maybe that's why the Feds haven't pulled the trigger on this whole thing yet?
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:22 AM on May 20, 2010


Wait... See, this is just more signs of the end times, so it's all ok, cuz all the good christians will go to heaven, and only those evil sinners will have to deal with the problem, so why should we worry!!!

So, I should really not worry about it, and continue to live my life in lavish glory while I wait for our Lord and Savior's return.
posted by symbioid at 10:27 AM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Anybody know why in this article we're that worried about potential negative impacts of sand berms along the coast line compared to the oil?

Is the threat of berms really equivalent to that much oil? Even if it doesn't work, isn't it worth a shot? I guess I don't get it. I'm sure there's some logic behind it, but it seems it's the lesser of two evils, I'd imagine. And couldn't sand berms at least be taken down at some point, certainly much easier to do than letting oil flow even further up the coast???
posted by symbioid at 10:32 AM on May 20, 2010


I can't believe I thought hay would be the solution to all of this.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:49 AM on May 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Silly iamkimiam, hay is for horses!
posted by symbioid at 10:54 AM on May 20, 2010


Not for seahorses.

Sorry, folks. For levity. And I couldn't help myself.

posted by iamkimiam at 10:56 AM on May 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


At least you're trying to think of a solution, and for the right reasons, unlike some governmental representatives and oil barons.
posted by theredpen at 10:56 AM on May 20, 2010


Florida State scientist: NOAA ignores spill findings
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 11:02 AM on May 20, 2010


Kevin Costners 'Ocean Therapy' Boat mentioned earlier sounds fantastic, it's capable of removing 97% of the oil from the captured water. Would be kind of cool if it could power itself with the oil it removes, working away until all is clear.

"Costner has 300 of his Ocean Therapy machines in various sizes. The largest, at 21/2 tons, is able to clean water at a rate of 200 gallons a minute - faster than the well is leaking, Houghtaling noted."
posted by Static Vagabond at 11:05 AM on May 20, 2010 [9 favorites]


Again, I pop into this thread to ask where Mr. Obama's leadership on this issue is?

I knew I had political differences with him when he was elected but I thought he had more on the ball than the last guy.

Sample speech.

"... It is clear that the costs of this spill will be astonishingly great and that Americans will be paying these costs for decades to come, both financially in terms of lost resources, and spiritually as we see our beloved Gulf fouled and unfit for our enjoyment. We wish British Petroleum to be strongly motivated to solve this problem as quickly and effectively as possible, so we would like to inform their management that if they do not fix this problem almost immediately that the bill, including penalties, will certainly be greater than the value of their entire company, resulting in their death as a corporation; and that in, addition, criminal charges for management at all levels is absolutely not out of the question, so [flashes trademark smile] better get working, guys.

"We have every legal and moral right to make BP and its management pay for the consequences of their actions - and, to be frank, there are plenty of oil companies, and only one Gulf of Mexico."

And the funny part is that if Obama just destroyed BP this way, the other oil companies would suck up to him even more. Everyone respects the exercise of power!
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:06 AM on May 20, 2010


Again, I pop into this thread to ask where Mr. Obama's leadership on this issue is? ....

"We have every legal and moral right to make BP and its management pay for the consequences of their actions - and, to be frank, there are plenty of oil companies, and only one Gulf of Mexico."


Obama made just such a speech on May 14.
posted by blucevalo at 11:13 AM on May 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Live video of oil leak at PBS site (requires windows media player plugin; works for me in FF 3 and IE 8)
posted by desjardins at 11:16 AM on May 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Costner has 300 of his Ocean Therapy machines in various sizes. The largest, at 21/2 tons, is able to clean water at a rate of 200 gallons a minute - faster than the well is leaking, Houghtaling noted."

Man, I tell you - if those things work, I'll forgive Costner all of his bad movies and buy Waterworld on Blu-Ray.
posted by jquinby at 11:22 AM on May 20, 2010 [9 favorites]


I, for one, enjoyed Waterworld.

This I do not enjoy.
posted by Malice at 11:22 AM on May 20, 2010


blucevalo: um, I did read this speech at the time, but I don't see Mr. Obama threatening to dismantle BP and jail their management, which I thought was sort of key to what I wrote...

"I understand that there are legal and financial issues involved, and a full investigation will tell us exactly what happened. But it is pretty clear that the system failed, and it failed badly. And for that, there is enough responsibility to go around. And all parties should be willing to accept it."

really isn't the same thing.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:34 AM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Again, I pop into this thread to ask where Mr. Obama's leadership on this issue is?

Well, I will agree that, more and more it's looking as if the president is going to have to take more aggressive steps to getting these leaks plugged up at least--probably including the step of seizing the platform and letting the army corp of engineers or some other public entity take a crack at stopping the flow by whatever means necessary. More and more, it looks like BP's not even capable of dealing with the problem themselves if they really wanted to. But I still really worry that the expertise just isn't there in the public sector. It doesn't even seem to be there in the private sector, for that matter. It's like we've just been doing more and more of this kind of deep sea drilling without any real consideration for whether or not we actually know what we're doing.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:41 AM on May 20, 2010


"Costner has 300 of his Ocean Therapy machines in various sizes. The largest, at 21/2 tons, is able to clean water at a rate of 200 gallons a minute - faster than the well is leaking, Houghtaling noted."

This quote is a little misleading since the 200 gallons a minute is of contaminated water, not straight oil. Still very awesome.
posted by gatsby died at 11:42 AM on May 20, 2010


WH PR hack Gibbs is live on TV right now attempting damage control.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 11:43 AM on May 20, 2010


Fmr. EPA Investigator Scott West: US Has Told BP "It Can Do Whatever It Wants and Won’t Be Held Accountable"
posted by homunculus at 11:47 AM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Watching the WH press conference makes me sick: Gibbs just sounds like a defensive prick, no better than the WH during Katrina. Obama has failed on containing this mess. Period. He should have cancelled everything else, including the current visit of the president of Mexico, to address this until the leak was/is plugged. It's gone on way too long, and it's total bullshit.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 11:48 AM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


"It's like we've just been doing more and more of this kind of deep sea drilling without any real consideration for whether or not we actually know what we're doing."

I'd say that's exactly the case. From what Anonymous 5$ Sockpuppet said, it sounds like there's ongoing research in this area, but the bottom of the sea is a mysterious place, and it would probably take many years to answer all the questions. Meanwhile the investors want dividends now, not twenty-five years in the future when the technology is perfected, so they drill. As oil gets scarcer and the price begins to inexorably rise we're probably going to run into situations like this again and again as the oil companies put into areas they never considered for exploitation before.
posted by Kevin Street at 12:18 PM on May 20, 2010


Revoke BP's Charter.
posted by boo_radley at 12:25 PM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Holy crap, man, great answer Anonymous Sock Puppet, thanks.
posted by The Straightener at 12:40 PM on May 20, 2010


You guys must surely realise that if blowing up the well were easy, then BP would have done it some time ago. They can always drill another one, and the cost of the cleanup + liability, not even mentioning the PR damage is already way more than the cost of drilling a fresh well.

I can also assure you that the Army Corps of Engineers doesn't know anything about deepwater drilling, not many organisations do. Do you really expect Obama to freedive down to the sea-floor and plug the well with his bare hands?

It's also true that it's unlikely that anyone will go to jail for this, simply because the guys running the actual job are dead and their corpses toasted to a crisp. We don't really even know who fucked up. Why did the BOP not work? Did Halliburton fuck up the cementing? If so, did they screw up or were BP's specs bad? Where they running the well underbalanced, and if so, why?
What exactly would the BP guys still alive be charged with? If this was a result of systematic disregard for safe procedure then the senior execs would be responsible, but what if it was a freak accident? Or what if the guys on-rig fucked it up? Then there really wouldn't be anything to charge senior management with.

I agree with seanmpuckett that the awesome destructive potential of modern technology is hard to comprehend. When a disaster of this magnitude happens, one wants to find the person responsible and punish them. But what do we do when there isn't an individual to point to? It's all very well to say "BP senior executives", but it isn't yet clear if this was caused by any malfeasance on the part of one or more of them.
posted by atrazine at 12:54 PM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


BP does NOT want to blow it up. They want to be able to continue drilling there. They know damn well that if they have to go to the point of blowing it up, they won't get a new permit to drill in that same spot.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 1:15 PM on May 20, 2010


Like we should give them a new permit to drill there even if they don't blow it up to cap it?
posted by hippybear at 1:19 PM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is becoming Obama's Katrina rather quickly.
posted by Avenger at 1:21 PM on May 20, 2010


scaryblackdeath,

The long term plan for this well has always been to close it. That relief well they're drilling will be used to fill the hole with cement.
I'm sure BP already knows that they won't be drilling there again.
posted by atrazine at 1:22 PM on May 20, 2010


After blocking CBS crew, Coast Guard denies ‘BP rules’
posted by homunculus at 1:26 PM on May 20, 2010


atrazine: "You guys must surely realise that if blowing up the well were easy, then BP would have done it some time ago."

Is that entirely true, though? The wellhead is an investment in capital -- a huge one from what I've read. Destroying it would mean that would have to drill a new one from scratch, if they're still permitted to. Trying to repair the existing wellhead seems like a more capital-friendly, investor friendly way to go, even if some of the oil escapes.

atrazine: "Why did the BOP not work? "

A potential mix of unauthorized modification and possibly damage from the explosion. From wikipedia:
At least four significant problems have been identified with the BOP:

* There was a leak in the hydraulic system that provides power to the shear rams.
* The BOP had been modified in unexpected ways. The underwater control panel had been disconnected from the bore ram, and instead connected to a test ram. Drawings of the BOP provided by Transocean to BP do not correspond to the structure that is on the ocean bottom.
* The BOP's shear ram is not powerful enough to cut through joints in the well pipe. It is only effective on the body of a drill pipe. Since 10% of the drill pipe is threaded joints, the BOP is expected to succeed on only 90% of the drill pipe.
* Emergency control to the BOP may have failed in multiple ways. Cameron, the BOP's manufacturer, has stated that the explosion may have severed the communication link so the BOP never received the instruction to engage. Before the backup dead man's switch will engage, communications, power and hydraulic lines must all be severed; Cameron, has stated it is possible BOPs hydraulic lines were intact after the explosion, in which case the unit would not engage. Of the two control pods for the deadman switch, the one that has been inspected so far had a dead battery.[47]
posted by boo_radley at 1:33 PM on May 20, 2010


Oh, I almost forgot. That 5,000 barrels/ a day thing? That's 210,000 gallons per day, or 145.83 gallons/ minutes. Sounds like a lot, but that's the equivalent 6-9 garden hoses being turned on for the same period (see here)

And I really resent the idea that measuring the flow is "impossible" according to BP. I'm glad to hear there's scientific methods like the velocimiters that NPR mentioned this morning, but, fuck, come on, how many different kinds of flowmeters are around?

posted by boo_radley at 1:41 PM on May 20, 2010


One thing that's not clear to me:

How much oil is not getting into the siphon thing?

If we don't know exactly, can we say, well, the siphon doesn't deal with leaks x and y, so oil from x and y is still going in the water?
posted by angrycat at 1:45 PM on May 20, 2010


Drawings of the BOP provided by Transocean to BP do not correspond to the structure that is on the ocean bottom.

Oh shit. One of my friends is a Halliburton engineer, I just read your whole post to him and I think he said "oh my god" about 20 times.
posted by atrazine at 1:51 PM on May 20, 2010


Do you really expect Obama to freedive down to the sea-floor and plug the well with his bare hands?

That would be Bad Ass!
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 2:14 PM on May 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


Man, it's obvious: declare BP a terrorist organization, seize their assets, jail their executives, and shut them the fuck down.

Because this thing makes 9/11 seem like a fender bender.

Fuck BP. Close 'em down and seize all their assets. Predator drone their motherfucking headquarters in London.
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:27 PM on May 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Trying to repair the existing wellhead seems like a more capital-friendly, investor friendly way to go, even if some of the oil escapes it wipes out life as we know it on planet earth.

FTFY.
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:31 PM on May 20, 2010


atrazine: "I think he said "oh my god" about 20 times"

Like "this is terrible news if accurate" oh my god, or "this internet entity 'boo radley' is an idiot" oh my god?
posted by boo_radley at 2:38 PM on May 20, 2010


the equivalent of 6-9 garden hoses being turned on

Thanks for that ballpark estimation, boo_radley. By comparison, the video of the gushes in the riser pipe are plainly way more than 9 garden hoses.

It's easy to deceive people when the claims and the evidence are at different levels of abstraction. Very few watching the news know what 5,000 barrels a day looks like.
posted by anthill at 2:42 PM on May 20, 2010


Sounds like lawyer gold to me, boo_radley.
posted by anthill at 2:42 PM on May 20, 2010


It's like, hey, here's something that's going to be like Katrina in its impact, except that Katrina is just "shit happens, what are ya gonna do?" but this is "people fucked up".

Katrina was "people fucked up", too. Harry Shearer did a great job covering it on Le Show, here's an article: Court: Army Corps of Engineers liable for Katrina flooding
posted by heathkit at 2:55 PM on May 20, 2010


This all rather grimly reminds me of an old joke:

Why do the British not build televisions?

Because they can't figure out how to get them to leak oil.




....... *sigh*
posted by kaseijin at 2:56 PM on May 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Maybe the engineers would even volunteer to help.

BP is actually trying to engage the volunteer services of industry professionals because it's cheaper to ask for volunteers than to pay a fair market wage for them. Somebody I know got a call last week requesting their services via a technical volunteer organization (not Engineers Without Borders, but something similar), working directly with BP, for a "volunteer rate" that was less than half the industry standard for the level of professional qualifications they were requesting. It's privatize profits, socialize risks, right down to the individual level.
posted by hackwolf at 3:37 PM on May 20, 2010 [9 favorites]


On the flip side there is also a large effort to gather a list of responders with actual hazardous waste training to go and assist also. Contracted through their standard rates.
posted by Big_B at 3:54 PM on May 20, 2010


Follow-up to the "BP Rules" incident mentioned earlier.
Here is the official response from the U.S. Coast Guard:
Tonight CBS Evening News reported they were denied access to oiled shoreline by a civilian vessel that had clean-up workers contracted by BP, as well as Coast Guard personnel on board. CBS News video taped the exchange during which time one of the contractors told them (on tape) that " ... this is BP's rules not ours."

Neither BP nor the U.S. Coast Guard, who are responding to the spill, have any rules in place that would prohibit media access to impacted areas and we were disappointed to hear of this incident. In fact, media has been actively embedded and allowed to cover response efforts since this response began, with more than 400 embeds aboard boats and aircraft to date. Just today 16 members of the press observed clean-up operations on a vessel out of Venice, La.

The only time anyone would be asked to move from an area would be if there were safety concerns, or they were interfering with response operations. This did occur off South Pass Monday which may have caused the confusion reported by CBS today.

The entities involved in the Deepwater Horizon/BP Response have already reiterated these media access guidelines to personnel involved in the response and hope it prevents any future confusion.
Of course, as others have pointed out, his hand-waving about safety and then his suggestion that "embedded" reporters are already taking care of coverage is a bit worrying.
posted by tybeet at 6:04 PM on May 20, 2010


"Costner has 300 of his Ocean Therapy machines in various sizes. The largest, at 21/2 tons, is able to clean water at a rate of 200 gallons a minute - faster than the well is leaking, Houghtaling noted."

But can it separate urine from water?
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:16 PM on May 20, 2010


Do you really expect Obama to freedive down to the sea-floor and plug the well with his bare hands?

Well, yes, obviously. Do you have a better suggestion?
posted by krinklyfig at 6:37 PM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is all we need, on top of Greece falling apart, the Euro and the world markets plummeting, flooding in Tennessee, Thailand going up in flames, the Tea Party ...

What we really need to top this all off is a giant mutated reptile attacking a major American city. The best way to make this happen is to go ahead with the nuclear bomb idea to plug up the oil well, which will mutate a giant squid in the vicinity into an enormous city-hating monster. It will eat Miami, I'm pretty sure.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:43 PM on May 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Of course squids aren't reptiles, but you get the idea ...
posted by krinklyfig at 6:45 PM on May 20, 2010


We got Kudzu... as the climate warms its winter dieback will head farther and farther north and it will start to get serious about eating everything rural south of, say, Cleveland.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:02 PM on May 20, 2010


seanmpuckett: "We got Kudzu... as the climate warms its winter dieback will head farther and farther north and it will start to get serious about eating everything rural south of, say, Cleveland."

My gf lives in Cleveland and I in WI, so, go ahead!!! :)
posted by symbioid at 7:29 PM on May 20, 2010


Someone in Pensacola tells me it smells like a gas station there due to the spill, which seems to be consistent with news reports from coastal areas (although it's never a good idea in poltics to imply your constituents are crazy for smelling things).

**

Also, little surprise here: Decades after Exxon Valdez, cleanup technology basically the same.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 7:46 PM on May 20, 2010


I just know a smattering of midevil history, one of those situations where i had a library book and it was due and so only read through to the end of rome.

anyways, what's interesting is during the centuries that it took Rome to fall, there was a lot of apocalyptic cultural stuff. The world's coming to the end, oh no.

Rome did come to an end, but there were competing populations and ample resources so it's not like all of humanity went down in flames.

But we feel kinda fucked. Maybe there's some alien race out there who are all benevolent and shit and can make us into pets.
posted by angrycat at 7:47 PM on May 20, 2010


I'm all for revoking the BP charter, which if I'm recalling rightly can only be initiated by the impacted state's attorney general?

The only thing more troubling than the actual spill is the deafening silence of public outrage. I mean, if the t-party people can get a bunch of volk to rally over made up bullshit, can we try get some pitchforks in order about this actual, real thing?

This is just so bleak I can't believe it.

And while I'm at it, fuuuuuuuuu Sarah Palin. Also.
posted by wowbobwow at 7:55 PM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


we feel kinda fucked

Well maybe the environmental radicals and their prophets are correct in their overall analysis (despite its apparent misanthropy), and human beings are nothing more than a parasite on the planet. After all, we seem to be very good at killing things and at depleting natural resources. That we are technically ingenious and excel at exploiting the world according to our desires (the excess of our needs) cannot be denied, but we desperately need to realize that new paradigm we keep hearing so much about.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 8:25 PM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Like "this is terrible news if accurate" oh my god,

This one. There is going to be mad litigation between BP and Transocean about who approved what changes to the way the BOP was installed.
posted by atrazine at 1:06 AM on May 21, 2010


seize their assets, jail their executives, and shut them the fuck down.

Well, you know, I don't think there are any laws that let the government do that, or are we in favour of the executive branch doing whatever they happen to think is right now?

There are legal mechanisms for recovering damages, and if the assessed damages are more than they can pay, then the company is bankrupt and that's the end of BP. Similarly, there are all kinds of laws that their executives *may* have broken, but it's quite possible that this happened without them breaking any of them.
posted by atrazine at 1:15 AM on May 21, 2010


I think Bush made it possible to declare anyone a terrorist and deny them due process.

I'm just seeing a way to make productive use of that power. If it was good enough for Jose Padilla, why not BP?

Actually, of course, I was being ironically hyperbolic. Touchy, touchy.
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:09 AM on May 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


Maybe plugged by next week? Maybe not.

Rep. Ed Markey, who leads a House subcommittee investigating the disaster, told reporters, "I think now we are beginning to understand that we cannot trust BP."

"People do not trust the experts any longer," said Markey, D-Massachusetts. "BP has lost all credibility. Now the decisions will have to be made by others, because it is clear that they have been hiding the actual consequences of this spill."

posted by jquinby at 5:36 AM on May 21, 2010


"I think now we are beginning to understand that we cannot trust BP."

Now?!

Who trusts BP?
posted by mrgrimm at 9:01 AM on May 21, 2010


damn it's a depressing time to live on the gulf.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:13 AM on May 21, 2010


Well, you know, I don't think there are any laws that let the government do that, or are we in favour of the executive branch doing whatever they happen to think is right now?

Well if this were the fault of a foreign power classified as a "country" and not a "company" we would demand they foot the entire bill or in all likelihood we would forcibly institute "regime change."

I see no reason why our response to this situation should differ in severity.
posted by Zalzidrax at 11:45 AM on May 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm glad in that CBS clip of the journalists that Katie Couric followed up with such hard-hitting questions. "Coast Guard works for BP now, you say? Well, I never! Now look at this picture of a cute, dead sea turtle!" Go journalism!
posted by staggering termagant at 1:17 PM on May 21, 2010


Trouble on Horizon If Hurricanes Hit Oil Spill In Gulf

I feel a bit Chicken Little here, but ... we're FUCKED. Hurricane season in two weeks. When does something become a "global catastrophe"?
posted by _paegan_ at 2:19 PM on May 21, 2010


When does something become a "global catastrophe"?

I'm sure it's already become that for many marine creatures which use the Gulf as seasonal hunting or breeding grounds.
posted by hippybear at 3:46 PM on May 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, we do have the great power of social media, which allows expert analysis of streaming video from the gulf such as this fine fellow:



what the hell is that new floating thing near the riser in the live #oilspill cam??? #bp

posted by angrycat at 6:27 PM on May 21, 2010


I never thought that CNN would scare me as much as they did this morning.

Someone was talking about how much oil naturally leaks into the gulf every year. This oil, as the man on television tells me, is eaten by bacteria, so we never really see it. Then he asked what happened if this bacteria ate the oil that was treated with a chemical dispersant. He didn't know the answer, and he told me that no one knew because it had never been studied.

He then proceeded to tell me that it was a very bad thing if this dispersant killed off all these bacteria. I don't remember the numbers so I don't want to quote anything that would probably be wrong, but it sounded to me it would be like we'd have many times this amount of oil leaking into our ocean all the time with no way to stop it and nothing to break it down.

This whole situation upsets me a lot. But the oil that is coming out of the ground was always there. It actually is a natural thing. Yes it is harmful to life but Mother Earth has dealt with oil in it's raw form for longer than we have been around. I'm sure she can handle herself. These dispersants on the other hand are made by humans. They are really what I am worried about now.

I don't care if we have hurricanes with burning oil instead of rain. That will suck for a while and then we'll have a scary story to tell our grandkids. But if we accidentally nearly all life from our oceans then, yes, we are fucked.

Enjoy your weekend.
posted by chemoboy at 6:29 PM on May 21, 2010


I am certain a bio-company like Monsanto or Dow have bred specialty oil-munching bacteria.

With patented resistance to dispersants, of course.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:04 PM on May 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


hey, I'm on vacation so I've been away from mefi. I don't know if anyone's posted this yet but:
James Carville Takes On Obama On Oil Spill: He's 'Risking Everything' With 'Go Along With BP Strategy'

Carville, the famously outspoken Louisianian who was a chief political aide to Bill and Hillary Clinton, told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Thursday that the administration's response to the spill has been "lackadaisical" and that Obama was "naive" to trust BP to manage the massive clean-up effort.

"I think they actually believe that BP has some kind of a good motivation here," he said. "They're naive! BP is trying to save money, save everything they can... They won't tell us anything, and oddly enough, the government seems to be going along with it! Somebody has got to, like shake them and say, 'These people don't wish you well! They're going to take you down!'"
I don't know what's going on behind the scenes, obviously, but politically their response has been similar to the wallstreet crisis. Just let the people who caused the problem handle it. It seems like just now the government is forcing BP to switch to a safer, more efficent dispersant. But one that costs them more (because they own the more toxic dispersant company, apparently)

People were complaining about that online after the first few days. The response has been pretty terrible. At least with the financial crisis you can't really see the problem, it's just money, we'll come back from it eventually. But this oil spill is doing real damage. And they're just now starting to try to measure the output? On a purely political basis it seems insane. How could the government possibly benefit from not knowing. Only BP could have benefited, and it seems like they are doing everything they to control costs, and the government's job is to do everything it can to minimize damage.

I hope BP ends up being responsible for any economic damage, including lost industries.

(Also, I told you guys the 5k bbl/day figure was BS in the first or second thread on this :P)
posted by delmoi at 7:22 AM on May 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


EPA Officials Weigh Sanctions Against BP’s U.S. Operations
posted by homunculus at 9:29 AM on May 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Finished reading the thread. Man, what a clusterfuck.

It's interesting to see a few people fault start to fault Obama. I was complaining about him in the earlier thread, but perhaps that was too early. Now it seems more reasonable. Making BP responsible for the response was an epic failure. Obama has far too much confidence in these institutions. It's just like with wallstreet, let the people who caused the problem fix it.

It's a fucking ridiculous view to take. Maybe in the past people working in these institutions were more reliable, but now it's greed -- personal greed -- first second and third. The guys at the top care a lot more about their own paychecks then they do about the companies they manage. Or the country they live in, or the world as a whole.

I hope BP goes down. I hope they go bankrupt. They need to. These guys have done more damage then any terrorist could have imagined.

I keep thinking of ways that we could make offshore drilling safer. Like multiple redundant BOPs or whatever. But really, the only way to make it totally safe is to simply not do it. Anything else, and eventually people will start cutting corners again.
posted by delmoi at 9:58 AM on May 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


EPA officials declined to speculate on the likelihood that BP will ultimately be suspended or barred from government contracts. Such a step will be weighed against the effect on BP's thousands of employees and on the government's costs of replacing it as a contractor.

The stated priorities in this instance are completely wrong.
posted by hippybear at 10:13 AM on May 22, 2010


there must be some other oil company out there the government could pay to try to seal the plug, Haliburton, maybe or Bechtel or something. Just find some company with the right skillset to handle this, give them the money, and then charge BP.
posted by delmoi at 12:47 PM on May 22, 2010


Just give them BP. And the heads of BP executives as a warning to do the job right.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:17 PM on May 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sen. Lamar Alexander Advocates A Government Takeover Of BP
posted by homunculus at 10:48 AM on May 23, 2010


From day one of the accident it was clear that this hole was never going to be a producing well. The casing of the well is broken deep below the surface. If blowing up something helped, it would be done. But it doesn't. Stopping a gusher is hard, even at ground level. At a depth of 1500 meters it's really really hard.


And I really resent the idea that measuring the flow is "impossible" according to BP. I'm glad to hear there's scientific methods like the velocimiters that NPR mentioned this morning, but, fuck, come on, how many different kinds of flowmeters are around?


The stuff leaking is actually a very unideal mixture of oil and gas, the behaviour of such a mixture is not very well understood in these conditions. Note that BP has been very careful not to release an estimate of their own, being very happy to rely on the 5000bbl/day guesstimate. 95000 barrels would make this well many times faster flowing than other wells in the same area and does not sound likely.


A possible history of the the leak
on theoildrum.com is a decent enough summary of the facts with some speculation thrown in.

Oh and yeah BP should suffer. Bigtime.
posted by Authorized User at 10:58 AM on May 23, 2010


Gulf oil spill makes landfall, blackening Louisiana beaches
posted by homunculus at 11:56 AM on May 23, 2010


Deepwater Horizon oil spill revealed an industry ill-prepared to deal with 'black swan' event

Oil disaster brought to you by deregulation
posted by homunculus at 12:10 PM on May 23, 2010


Louisiana coast's battle against drifting oil expected to last months, if not years
posted by homunculus at 12:11 PM on May 23, 2010


Oil Spill Clean-Up Workers Getting Sick
posted by homunculus at 12:28 PM on May 23, 2010


It's interesting to see a few people fault start to fault Obama. I was complaining about him in the earlier thread, but perhaps that was too early. Now it seems more reasonable.

I thought it was silly that some people were calling the Gulf spill "Obama's Katrina." Now I've realized it's much worse.

Shut down BP's US operations, seize control of its facilities, and enlist help from independent experts and other companies to kill the well. It's far past time.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:46 AM on May 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


The Big Picture: Oil reaches Louisiana shores
posted by homunculus at 11:00 AM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


BP is the 19th largest oil producer. Give them to one of the big companies, one with a good safety record. If there's such a thing when it comes to oil companies.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:47 PM on May 24, 2010


GOP Congressional Candidate:"crude oil is a natural, organic, biodegradable product of the earth's ancient plant and animal life, and it is this type of hydrocarbon that marine life in the open and deep ocean is starved for."
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:56 PM on May 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, there is oil leaking into the ocean anyway, correct? (Nowhere near the volume of the spill of course). And some marine bacteria decompose oil. So I do worry about that untested dispersant. But yeah, that Oregon guy is fruitcake nutty.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:23 PM on May 24, 2010


Deepwater Horizon survivors allege they were kept in seclusion after rig explosion, coerced into signing legal waivers.
posted by nfg at 2:32 AM on May 25, 2010


BP is the 19th largest oil producer. Give them to one of the big companies, one with a good safety record. If there's such a thing when it comes to oil companies.

BP is the world's second biggest non-state owned oil producer. Only Exxon-Mobil is larger.

Source

By the way, internationals like BP, Shell, and Exxon-Mobil actually have substantially better safety and environmental records than most national oil companies. Though this is complicated by the fact that some of the national oil companies are joint ventures with internationals, for instance Shell in Nigeria.

Basically there are no oil companies with really sterling safety records, drilling for oil is extremely dangerous. Transporting oil is safe for humans (mostly), but potentially disastrous in case of accidents, Refining oil is dangerous.
posted by atrazine at 6:07 AM on May 25, 2010


I wonder where I got the "19th largest" factoid from. Well, guess that idea won't work.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:33 AM on May 25, 2010


Hurricane Could Spread Gulf Spill Far and Wide. The hurricane season is looking to be active this year, though cooler water in the western Atlantic could help keep storms out of the Gulf.
posted by homunculus at 9:41 AM on May 25, 2010


Who's in Charge of the Oil Leak?
posted by homunculus at 9:55 AM on May 25, 2010


I wonder where I got the "19th largest" factoid from. Well, guess that idea won't work.atrazine's link.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:37 AM on May 25, 2010


Damn! Let me try that again.

I wonder where I got the "19th largest" factoid from. Well, guess that idea won't work.

You were correct, according to atrazine's link.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:39 AM on May 25, 2010


The (fake) BP PR twitter feed is amusing

Some samples:

Funny, no one has thanked us for seasons 3-15 of Treme yet. #bpcares

Oh man, this whole time we've been trying to stop SEAWATER from gushing into our OIL. Stupid Terry was holding the diagram upside down.

Don't forget! Today is Free Matches Sunday! Stop into any bp station and pick up your free matches. We insist!

posted by angrycat at 12:34 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Gonna be a shitload of cancers and other ill health effects from breathing the fumes released by this oil volcano. And with the stellar healthcare the deep South has, ooh, is it gonna be ugly.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:41 PM on May 25, 2010


Over 300 dead birds are likely Gulf spill victims... The size of BP's disaster in the Gulf could eclipse the scale of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska's Prince William Sound, in which an estimated 250,000 sea birds perished...
posted by tybeet at 6:16 PM on May 25, 2010


Real Bad Shit Has Happened.

Latest figures I saw were ~120 000 barrels per day.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:43 PM on May 25, 2010


I've found that I can really only just barely tolerate news about this in text form or via the radio. Clips I saw last night on Rachel Maddow and later on the local news, photos I've seen in the Big Picture, made me want to...I dunno. Run away. Cry. Barf. Scream and hit things. I hate being helpless.
posted by rtha at 8:23 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


rtha: I'm right there with you on that. I'm so angry about it, and feel so powerless to do anything. Even people who have power through the media aren't getting anywhere with saying things... They're told "well, the government doesn't have the expertise to take care of this, so we have to let BP do it".

With all the new forms of personhood that corporations have, I wish they'd be granted a face. Because I'd like to punch BP in the face. Repeatedly, until I feel better.
posted by hippybear at 10:06 PM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Deepwater Horizon oil spill revealed an industry ill-prepared to deal with 'black swan' event

Oil disaster brought to you by deregulation
Black Swan? Seriously? What the fuck is it with people and that term. It's idiotic to call this a black swan. A Black Swan is something no one could have imagined. This was predicable and predicted. You drill for oil, you sometimes get a gusher. Maybe they figured their technology would prevent the problem, but that's like saying getting a girl pregnant was unimaginable because you were using a condom.
Oil Spill Clean-Up Workers Getting Sick
ANOTHER BLACK SWAN! WHO COULD HAVE SEEN THAT COMING!?

I can't believe they let people out there without hazmat suits. Jesus.

---

Anyway, BP is a foreign company, so we can't shut them down (without british help). But I think we should ban them from doing business in the U.S, auction off their assets, and use the money to pay for cleanup.
posted by delmoi at 2:20 AM on May 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


Porn, Meth, and Oil Company Parties
posted by homunculus at 9:09 AM on May 26, 2010


Ahead of Pivotal Attempt to Plug Leak, BP Acknowledges "Fundamental Mistake" in Hours Before Rig Explosion
posted by homunculus at 9:10 AM on May 26, 2010


The conclusion? The rig "shouted" warnings for hours that there were serious problems, including indications that gas was bubbling into the well, a signal that a blowout is looming.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:43 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


BP has tried to deflect some blame to Transocean, the contractor at the well. But this information from the (tarnished) MMS, indicates they are almost totally responsible:
The debate concerned BP’s desire to replace heavy drilling fluid with lighter saltwater before the well was sealed with cement plugs.

“The driller was outlining what would be taking place, whereupon the company man stood up and said, ‘No, we’ll be having some changes to that,’ “ Mr. Brown said. “The OIM, tool-pusher and driller disagreed with that, but the company man said, ‘Well, this is how it’s going to be,’ and the tool-pusher, driller and OIM reluctantly agreed.”
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:08 PM on May 26, 2010


Experts: Legal issues driving BP's oil spill stance
posted by homunculus at 1:01 PM on May 26, 2010


CNN livefeed of topkill
posted by angrycat at 1:17 PM on May 26, 2010


BP has a live feed for everyone to see, but it's quicktime based.
posted by delmoi at 5:26 PM on May 26, 2010


Okay, so that was quite a while ago. I still see a shitload of oil spewing out.
posted by delmoi at 9:51 PM on May 26, 2010


Apparently the BP thinks the stuff coming out of the well on the live feed is now "Mud" and not Oil.
posted by delmoi at 12:28 AM on May 27, 2010


'Top kill' stops gulf oil leak, official says: Drilling fluid has blocked oil and gas, U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen says. Engineers plan to begin pumping in cement and then will seal the well.
posted by homunculus at 8:24 AM on May 27, 2010


Gulf Oil Spill: Scientists Discover Massive New Sea Oil Plume
posted by homunculus at 4:16 PM on May 27, 2010


We are a sad little species, fouling our own nest in a scramble to feed our voracious energy wants (SUVs and JetSkis are not "needs"). I see the future with a dead Gulf and withered, lifeless landscape all along the southern coast of the US. We should be deeply ashamed that we allowed this to happen, especially since similar events have sickened other areas of the globe previously. I hang my head in sorrow and deep embarrassment for me and my fellow humans.
posted by Mental Wimp at 4:32 PM on May 27, 2010


I trust everyone is fully aware the mudding didn't work at all. The volcano continues to erupt.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:09 PM on May 27, 2010


I am amazed at how much BP lies to us.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:09 PM on May 27, 2010


I trust everyone is fully aware the mudding didn't work at all. The volcano continues to erupt.

The spill cam showed the ROV leave the site and surface; it was pretty cool actually. Now the video feed has been turned off.

I suspect the ROV leaving the area and stopping the video stream is not a good sign.
posted by Justinian at 7:10 PM on May 28, 2010


Shit, they turned the video off?
Argh why would the feds not press BP to keep the information flowing?
posted by angrycat at 8:45 PM on May 28, 2010


It looks like the ROV just surfaced briefly. Maybe it needed maintenance or something; the cam is back on.

The spewing pipe seems just as spewy as ever.
posted by Justinian at 10:48 PM on May 28, 2010


I expect we'll next learn there is massive seabed fracturing and channelling of oil and gases. Capping the well will create multiple plumes. Then we have to turn it into a producing well to relieve pressure. BP comes out the winner.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:01 PM on May 28, 2010


I expect we'll next learn there is massive seabed fracturing and channelling of oil and gases. Capping the well will create multiple plumes. Then we have to turn it into a producing well to relieve pressure. BP comes out the winner.

Maybe they can eventually join the TransOcean and Corexit disaster-profit party.
posted by tybeet at 12:54 PM on May 29, 2010


Lousiana Congressman is unable to hold back tears during BP Oil Spill hearing on Thursday.
posted by tybeet at 1:30 PM on May 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


My heart keeps breaking again and again over this tragedy. That video found me in new pieces.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:43 PM on May 29, 2010


Goddamn that video choked me up. I didn't expect that...
posted by symbioid at 4:40 PM on May 29, 2010


And once again BP fails.

Turns out the dispersent is 10x more lethal than the oil, too. Isn't that just peachy.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:24 PM on May 29, 2010


And again.
posted by iamkimiam at 5:53 PM on May 29, 2010


According to a recent Gallup poll, Americans' views have shifted now, with more individuals favoring environmental protection than energy production or economic development. Strangely, it seems to be returning to levels seen in 2007. I wonder what happened in the interim that changed peoples' minds?
posted by tybeet at 1:52 PM on May 30, 2010


And now for something completely different...
Barack Obama says the catastrophic Gulf oil spill shows the country must move toward clean energy by embracing energy efficiency, tapping natural gas and nuclear power and eliminating tax breaks for big oil... by rolling back billions of dollars in tax breaks and using the money for clean energy research and development.
This is the best news I've heard in weeks.
posted by tybeet at 6:09 PM on June 2, 2010


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