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Gulf oil spill: Worst-case scenario

Bad news: The tragic explosion of the BP oil drilling rig Deepwater Horizon could turn into an environmental disaster much bigger than anyone anticipated. Never mind the slick that's already reaching fragile marshes and estuaries that may soon be smothered in oil: This is a "spill" that keeps on spilling. The Mobile, Ala., newspaper says a leaked NOAA document shows the government is concerned that pipes at the bottom of the gulf could deteriorate further and the spill could turn into an unchecked gusher. Everyone today is sounding a lot more alarmed.

From the Press-Register:

"Two additional release points were found today. If the riser pipe deteriorates further, the flow could become unchecked resulting in a release volume an order of magnitude higher than previously thought."

In scientific circles, an order of magnitude means something is 10 times larger. In this case, an order of magnitude higher would mean the volume of oil coming from the well could be 10 times higher than the 5,000 barrels a day coming out now. That would mean 50,000 barrels a day, or 2.1 million gallons a day.

This is pretty scary. It's a reminder that you can't plan your next crisis. Government officials are counting on BP to do more to check the spill, but BP executives don't face voters -- elected officials do, and they'll be held accountable for how they respond to this. If you're Obama you probably want to do more than just send three Cabinet officials.

More from The Post.

By Joel Achenbach  |  April 30, 2010; 4:36 PM ET
 
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Next: What's happening at the bottom of the Gulf?

Comments

Shoot, my first true 'mudge'.
Acuba and sassafras and boodler's journey's don't compare.
Bring it on, boss.

Posted by: talitha1 | April 30, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Hi all!

I must say, I'm a little surprised that we have all these rigs and no one had a contingency plan for containing one if something happened to the rig. What would they have done if one had been seriously damaged during Katrina? Why are they only now rushing to develop a dome that is big enough to funnel the leaks? Just a little stunned that everyone is scrambling, like they never thought it could happen.

Posted by: MoftheMountain | April 30, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Will say that I've been following this story since it first broke and there were fatalities last week. I'm sure you have as well. Reckon the administration, the oceanic/environmental agencies, fishermen and coastwatchers, the Coast Guard and the BP execs had to coordinate before they released "statements" to the public. I'm a little miffed, but understanding. And the bash-obamas have jumped at every opportunity to, well, bash. Hope I haven't offended the boodle by calling it as I see it.
*wan smile*

Posted by: talitha1 | April 30, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if Palin will shut up now with the "drill, baby, drill" routine.

Posted by: rashomon | April 30, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

That is so cute, rashomon. Don't ever change.

Posted by: Yoki | April 30, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

The latesr BP press release makes interesting reading.

http://www.bp.com/genericarticle.do?categoryId=2012968&contentId=7061565

Excerpt:
"Efforts to stem the flow of oil from the well, currently estimated at up to 5,000 barrels a day, are continuing with six remotely-operated vehicles (ROVs) continuing to attempt to activate the blow out preventer (BOP) on the sea bed.

"By this weekend the Transocean Development Driller III is scheduled to spud a relief well intended to secure the existing well. Drilling of this well is expected to take two to three months."

So, the first line of defense to stop the leak is to get the plug that was supposed to work automatically but didn’t to activate via remote control.

If unsuccessful, the second line of defense to stop the leak will take two to three months to deploy.

Let’s see: 50,000 bbls a day times 90 days equals 4.5 million barrels of crude.

A barrel of crude can yield roughly 19 gallons (give or take) of gasoline.

That’s about 85.5 million gallons of gasoline.

Assuming 20 mph average and 12,000 miles driven in a year, that oil would fuel roughly 142,500 cars for a year. That would cover about 88% of all DC vehicle registrations in 2007.

Posted by: MsJS | April 30, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Exactly my point, MsJS. When something is a matter of critical importance, redundancy is a good thing. Plan A, the shutoff valve/plug, didn't work, and there was no redundancy, no Plan B that didn't take months, and no stopgap solution to bridge from A to B. Who the heck thought this was a "good enough" contingency plan?

Like I said, I'm stunned. (And I'm not really blaming the administration, more BP and regulators.)

Ah well, time to go home. Have a good weekend.

Posted by: MoftheMountain | April 30, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

It's sickening... I'm sure Jacques Cousteau is rolling over in his grave! I never believed in offshore drilling... I thought anyone who could think up such a scheme must be mad... and I was right.

Posted by: MissToronto | April 30, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Gotta worry that the flightless birds will take this one.

Posted by: Yoki | April 30, 2010 6:47 PM | Report abuse

I am no expert, but isn't this situation complicated by how far down the spud or head... or whatever it is called... is? 5000 feet down is much tougher to get at and fix. Robots are needed, it seems. I have read elsewhere that the end of the pipe that is leaking is a Christmas-tree like structure with multiple valves.. and it is whipping around (or at least moving) due to the pressure of the oil that it is spewing.

For those that are predispositioned to bash them, I hear that Halliburton was the crew that was working on cementing the annular space around the pipe when the explosion occurred. They were also the group doing the same exact thing (or a similar procedure) when another blowout happened near Australia within the last year or so.

Posted by: steveboyington | April 30, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Front page alert.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | April 30, 2010 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Taken from a NYTimes online forum "The Lede" by a knowledgeable poster:

A reader of The Lede named Paul, who says he has some expertise in oil drilling, writes from Seattle:

I am an engineer who worked for a major oil company in Louisiana years ago. I have been on oil and gas production facilities in the area where the spill is coming aground.

The comment about Obama golfing on April 23 is off-base and naive. BP announced the initial oil sheen was due to oil from the Transocean drilling rig, and not from an oil spill. BP finally admitted a spill was underway about a day later, but then mis-estimated the size of the leak as only 1000 BPD. Only several days later, did NOAA finish calculating the spill rate by looking at oil thickness (calculated from the color of the oil sheen) and the extent of the oil, and determined the spill rate was actually 5000 BPD.

The spill is coming from the riser… A tree of valves and a blowout preventer sits at the top of the well casing on the seafloor. A riser (a pipe) connects the tree to the floating drilling rig, but when the rig blew up, the riser fell onto the sea floor. The bulk of the oil leaking is apparently coming out of the end of the riser, and the riser itself is snaking around on the floor of the Gulf.

The blowout preventer and valves on the tree on the seafloor are designed to fail closed; meaning that if a constant signal received from the rig is interrupted, they are designed to close immediately. The blowout preventer (BOP) has a knife edged “blade” designed to cut through any drill pipe in the tree, and then shut-off the flow through the tree. From the size of the spill, most engineers would guess that the BOP did actuate, but for some reason, didn’t shut off the flow completely.


Sounds bad.

Posted by: steveboyington | April 30, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse

The NYTImes blog "The Lede" has a great rolling summary of details of this event. If you are interested, they have a snippet from a oil-industry engineer from Seattle who seems to know a lot of the details. His analysis gave me the willies.

http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/30/updates-on-the-oil-slick-in-the-gulf-of-mexico/?hp

Posted by: steveboyington | April 30, 2010 7:30 PM | Report abuse

steveboyington, it *is* BAD.
Does it just take an old hippie-greenie like me to sense that?

*head bowed in clasped elbows*

Hope Obama doesn't go to the Correspondants Dinner at the Hilton tomorrow night. No time for jokes.

Posted by: talitha1 | April 30, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

You know what makes me sad (other than that I'm not sitting on the deck in TBG's beautiful yard, drinking a cocktail)? That we've been on the front page for this long and apparently, nobody cares about this eco-disaster.

Posted by: Yoki | April 30, 2010 8:23 PM | Report abuse

Get me the ghost of Red Adair. I bet ghosts can withstand the pressure of 5000 feet of ocean.

Posted by: steveboyington | April 30, 2010 8:39 PM | Report abuse

Yoki. it's been sitting right out there on the front page for days.
I'm only one boodler, and certainly not one iota of an the entire nation. I do sense that the 'powers that be' have been negotiating to ensure that the markets don't collapse due to oil investments in general. Some proof was that traders took that into consideration yesterday/today and the market dropped a tad, but who knows why? By the time this story has passed through the media filter and progressed on its own, no telling what the fallout may be? I've become a cynic, and it's not my natural mindset.

My parents are on the Gulf and my mom called me this morning to ask if I knew any ways to clean oil from bird feathers - good grief!

Posted by: talitha1 | April 30, 2010 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Dawn Dishwashing Liquid and barely tepid water. Truly! I went up during the Valdez disaster, and that's what we used. Only, I suggest heavy leather gauntlets (if you can find some that go up past the shoulder, buy those!), 'cause those birds really really don't like being restrained.

Posted by: Yoki | April 30, 2010 9:08 PM | Report abuse

I'll pass that on, Yoki, and certainly appreciate the practical info. Wish I hadn't worked myself up so much about the larger picture, however. I'll take a Friday night libation and delve into a good ole' movie. Or watch Bill Maher (sp?) and get all riled up again, who knows. Call me a knitter but never call me passive.

Posted by: talitha1 | April 30, 2010 9:15 PM | Report abuse

What's so nice about the boodle talitha. You can watch Bill Maher and rant here while you watch.

Posted by: -TBG- | April 30, 2010 9:18 PM | Report abuse

I want to talk about planting trees, dangnabitwhatthegoogle!!!!

Posted by: talitha1 | April 30, 2010 9:24 PM | Report abuse

Okay, I'm with you when Maher comes on in 1/2 hour. Libating and boodling along!

Posted by: talitha1 | April 30, 2010 9:28 PM | Report abuse

To yoki who wrote: "...nobody cares about this eco-disaster."

Everybody does! I am heartbroken... So concerned for all the people animals, the land, the sea... One is truly helpless...But one cares!!!

Posted by: FedUp1 | April 30, 2010 9:31 PM | Report abuse

I'm confused. I thought Arbor Day had morphed into Earth Day, but that was a week ago. Between Mass. Patriot Day, 4/20, Tax Day, April Fools Day, and who knows what else, I can't keep track of what I'm supposed to celebrate and how.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 30, 2010 9:35 PM | Report abuse

Well, hey! FedUp1! So happy. so happy.

Posted by: Yoki | April 30, 2010 9:49 PM | Report abuse

This has sort of snuck up on people, unfortunately. What sickens me is that this isn't the first time a problem like this has occurred. There should be redundancies built into the system. Inexcusable.

It also shows that there is a real weakness in our ability to do emergency work under water.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 30, 2010 9:54 PM | Report abuse

It's about risk analysis. You have to weigh the consequences of failure against the net benefits. Clearly we have struck a bad bargain.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 30, 2010 9:58 PM | Report abuse

After Weingarten's hypotheticals in his poll last week, ethics wise, I'm scared to say this, in case the WAPO reveals my real identity to big biz. But...

BP is the biggest, richest, supermajor in the world, other than Exxon. And, they just count this sort of thing as a sunk business cost, including the cost of litigation. If you think they really intend to be green or even to clean up, you are deluded. They rival the US Gov't in the ability to wait out litigation, even that that goes on for years and years and years, and has multiple appeals.

It angers me, this.

Posted by: Yoki | April 30, 2010 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Okay, I'm one of those hippie frogmen out there sabotaging the oilrigs . . . and I blew up the mine in West Virginia, too . . . . just to focus the world on environmental issues. Dream on, Limbaugh!

Posted by: talitha1 | April 30, 2010 10:07 PM | Report abuse

yello, clearly we have struck a bad bargain. Tell that to that to Cheney! Or go hunting in Texas, take your pick.

Posted by: talitha1 | April 30, 2010 10:13 PM | Report abuse

Scotty, you still up? I responded to your e-mail.

Hey, Yoki.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | April 30, 2010 10:15 PM | Report abuse

I am heartsick over this.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | April 30, 2010 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Mudge and Yoki. I think I sent you guys something this afternoon (but I don't remember .....).

*note to self ... hmmm, can't remember*

Time to turn in with a good book.

And why does that strike me as funny all of a sudden?

Posted by: -ftb- | April 30, 2010 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Where's Jumper? I'd like to hear his take on his. Didn't he work on a rig at one time?

Posted by: -TBG- | April 30, 2010 10:26 PM | Report abuse

SCC: on THIS. Darn iPad keyboard.

Posted by: -TBG- | April 30, 2010 10:27 PM | Report abuse

I'm guessing the powers that be at Exxon, Chevron and Conoco are putting pressure on various departments to come up with some answers and some new ideas. They may not be directly involved here, but their projected financial picture just changed.

Also, this isn't something that's likely to be dropped. Our legal system has mechanisms in place that can turn this into a ;engthy process, but those mechanisms are there for reasons. The system may not be perfect, but it works for us.

Posted by: LostInThought | April 30, 2010 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Didn't get it, ftb.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | April 30, 2010 10:31 PM | Report abuse

The military can solve this with a controled explosion, but thats to easy.
And my final comment on this subject is!! how the hell did this happen and what type of investigation is going on as to the cause..Yes we have the approx. barrel count and the coast is in danger but how could this have happened with all the safe guards build into such a system. NO IM NOT SAYING THIS IS BIGGER THAN THE WORLD TRADE CENTER, BUT A MISSLE FROM A SMALL BOAT SURE SOUND LIKE A POSSIBILITY..(COLE) THANK YOU FOR THE TIME AND ENERGY REPORTING THIS SAD PROBLEM BUT LETS GET SOME OF THE CAUSE OUT OF THE WAY SO WE CAN CLEAR THE RUMORS UP, WHICH ARE GETTING UGLY.

Posted by: goodlucktu1 | April 30, 2010 10:31 PM | Report abuse

[I was being sarcastic about being a hippie frogman] .... I think.

I'm not depressed yet, but I'm going to get close unless my horse wins in the Derby tomorrow. Only said that because I have a great Derby story I'll tell when I compose it properly.

Posted by: talitha1 | April 30, 2010 10:33 PM | Report abuse

But the legal system doesn't bring back the fish and wildlife which get killed. And as Yoki said, Exxon dragged out the process for so long, that the monetary damages to fishermen, etc, were nearly worthless.

Kudos to Yoki for helping during the Valdez disaster! Must have been heartbreaking.

I've been so busy this week I can't keep up with anything.

Posted by: seasea1 | April 30, 2010 10:35 PM | Report abuse

In an attempt to score political points this author and the AP are attempt to manipulate the public with both overt and covert misinformation. The Coast Guard and the U S Navy have been actively involved since day one. By day two, the EPA as well as the Wildlife Folks has been working 24/7. Not two but thousands of federal officials and personnel have been working to do whatever possible to mediate the damage of this situation. As with Katrina, those of us on the ground know what is and is not accurate information and the volume that comes from the media is inaccurate due to personal agenda or just flat out laziness and ineptness.

By the way, during an emergency the last, very last thing needed on the ground is a Pres. VP or any other Washington VIP for a photo op. Those working on the ground need these people in Washington kicking butt to secure the resources that give those on the ground at least a minimal chance of success. Now Jindal who refuses to account for the billions and billions of tax payer dollars that never make it to NOLA will not miss an opportunity to jump in front of a camera but that does absolutely nothing to solve the problems.

Posted by: xclntcat | April 30, 2010 10:35 PM | Report abuse

Nothing's bringing back the fish and wildlife. Our legal system isn't that good.

Posted by: LostInThought | April 30, 2010 10:42 PM | Report abuse

The military can solve this with a controled explosion, but thats to easy.
And my final comment on this subject is!! how the hell did this happen and what type of investigation is going on as to the cause..Yes we have the approx. barrel count and the coast is in danger but how could this have happened with all the safe guards build into such a system. NO IM NOT SAYING THIS IS BIGGER THAN THE WORLD TRADE CENTER, BUT A MISSLE FROM A SMALL BOAT SURE SOUND LIKE A POSSIBILITY..(COLE) THANK YOU FOR THE TIME AND ENERGY REPORTING THIS SAD PROBLEM BUT LETS GET SOME OF THE CAUSE OUT OF THE WAY SO WE CAN CLEAR THE RUMORS UP, WHICH ARE GETTING UGLY.

Posted by: goodlucktu1 | April 30, 2010 10:49 PM | Report abuse

well, yes. or ....... are we in the bunker?

Posted by: talitha1 | April 30, 2010 10:57 PM | Report abuse

goodluck, it's very impolite to post rants twice. Also, please turn off your all-caps key. That marks you as a nut case.

Meanwhile, under the heading of life goes on, the Nats beat the Marlins, 7-1, without the need for any controlled explosions.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | April 30, 2010 11:03 PM | Report abuse

The Times-Picayune reports (based on only one sample) that the escaping oil may not be the "light" material initially reported, but rather heavy crude with a very high asphalt content, which is far more difficult to deal with.
http://www.nola.com/news/gulf-oil-spill/index.ssf/2010/04/gulf_of_mexico_oil_spill_could.html

I suppose this could turn into a situation where the oil continues to flow until pressure declines or the remaining oil is too viscous to ooze into the water.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | April 30, 2010 11:22 PM | Report abuse

As much as I can find no reason to support with Mr. All Caps and !!Exclamation!!Points!!'s suggestion that could be some sort of terrorist missile attack and think the idea of stopping the gusher with a controlled (?) explosion under of one mile of water is not quite as fantasitc as blowing out a Van Allen Belt fire with nuclear weapons (ahem), I do appreciate the point that we don't know what happened on that rig and why.

Seems to me to be somewhat premature to be discussing litigation and remedies before investigations have determined the cause(s) of the events on the rig that led to its' sinking, the failures of the measures to stop the oil from issuing from what's left of the well pipes, the assessment of damages, the determination of responsibilities, etc.

Let's figure out how to stop the spillage and clean it up as best we can now, and let the investigations and legal systems take their courses.

The best legal team in the world can't cap that well, resolve the ecological damage, or eliminate the economic and other impacts as a result of this disaster. Hopefully, after all is said and done, we can learn from this and take measures to try keep this from happening again and offer some compensation to those who are affected, somewhere down the line. And if there are liabilites to be discharged and criminal charges to be prosecuted, so be it, in due course.

But I don't think there's anything that will truly balance the cosmic scales for this.

bc

Posted by: -bc- | April 30, 2010 11:31 PM | Report abuse

This sure is exactly what Virginia needs. Are you listening, Governor?

Posted by: jcedits | May 1, 2010 12:02 AM | Report abuse

Where is Sarah Palin when we need her sage wisdom? Drillbabydrill Baby has been strangely silent lately. I wonder why?

Posted by: B2O2 | May 1, 2010 12:04 AM | Report abuse

No, it doesn't. And yes, it was.

But it is all we have.

Posted by: Yoki | May 1, 2010 12:57 AM | Report abuse

bc, you are living in some sort of of pure clean field of innocence, if you believe that litigation hasn't begun. And that BP doesn't have lawyers on it. This is part of BP's pre-established crisis-management strategy.

Posted by: Yoki | May 1, 2010 1:26 AM | Report abuse

On a lighter note - this is a story about an NPR reporter's first trip with the Prez -
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126424065&f=1014&sc=tw

And look what Obama ate while he was in Iowa -
Obama toured a factory, kissed babies, rallied crowds and visited a family restaurant in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, for a slice of rhubarb pie.

Posted by: seasea1 | May 1, 2010 1:59 AM | Report abuse

One possibility is that the drill "collar" - heavy thicker part of the drill pipe at the ends where the pipe threads are - is right in the blowout preventer at the bottom. About 1/15th chance of that.
I'd suggest "why not have two?"

I was in Texas - Corpus Christi - when Ixtoc I made landfall. It was awful. Some info
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ixtoc_I

That article is woefully scant but further info on Ixtoc is available on the Google.

Yes TBG I worked on many, many oil rigs both onshore and offshore.

I'm curious about the initial explosion and fire that started all of it. And about what stage of work was going on at the time (cementing by Halliburton? rumors, rumors)

I wrote something about the ecological devastation long ago and i;ll dig it up soon. I should go back to bed now. Goodnight all.

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 1, 2010 5:30 AM | Report abuse

xclntcat, all the media can do is report the latest news. As is the case in the early part of every emergency, information evolves so quickly the reporting can't really help but take the "it's worse/better than we first thought" approach. It's usually the case, in fact, that they're quoting people saying exactly those things. JA and the AP are simply trying to convey what's known.

As for the "fail-safe" cutoff device, this is a case where redundancy is very difficult (nigh-impossible) to achieve. Unlike some other technologies (ahem) with multiple layers of backup redundancy.

But hey, let's play "Spot the REAL reporting/editing/headline screwup" here:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/30/AR2010043002330.html

Folks, they were drug smugglers, a group quite distinct from "illegal immigrants." Talk about trying to shoehorn an article into a given storyline... *SIGH*

*breaking-out-the-A/C-for-a-scorching-weekend Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 1, 2010 6:04 AM | Report abuse

Good Morning everyone.
Working the late shift again this weekend,which is getting very old and tiresome.

I was actually talking with a good friend about doing a weekly run to the gulf coast to bring blue crabs up and sell them here in Maryland.But that is on hold for now.

If I had any muola, I would start buying gulf shrimp now,before the price sky rockets very soon.Because there isn't any shrimp better then gulf shrimp.

well I get off soon and will be heading to bed,have a Great weekend everyone.

I like Paddy O'Prado to win
Dublin to place
Sidney's candy to show
Yes an Irish theme the derby will be

Posted by: greenwithenvy | May 1, 2010 6:41 AM | Report abuse

The following charity plans to collect hair clippings, which are excellent hair absorbents, to send to the Gulf. Monitor the following web site for more info. In the meantime, ask you hair stylist to collect and return your clippings.

http://www.matteroftrust.org/programs/hairmatsinfo.html

Posted by: ObamasGulfResponseIsMuchWorseThanKatrina | May 1, 2010 6:53 AM | Report abuse

Caribou Barbie has been far from silent. Here is a tweet of hers from last night:

"Having worked/lived thru Exxon oil spill,my family&I understand Gulf residents' fears.Our prayers r w/u.All industry efforts must b employed"

http://twitter.com/SarahPalinUSA/status/13132651183

But that wasn't nearly deferential enough to the resource extraction industry, so here is an excerpt from a more current missive:

"All responsible energy development must be accompanied by strict oversight, but even with the strictest oversight in the world, accidents still happen. No human endeavor is ever without risk – whether it’s sending a man to the moon or extracting the necessary resources to fuel our civilization. I repeat the slogan “drill here, drill now” not out of naiveté or disregard for the tragic consequences of oil spills – my family and my state and I know firsthand those consequences."

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=384560338434

She's got a schtick and she has to stick to it.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 1, 2010 6:56 AM | Report abuse

ObamasGulfResponseIsMuchWorseThanKatrina,

I called yesterday to expect a lot of false comparisons to Katrina. Let's see who ends up doing a heckuva job.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 1, 2010 7:00 AM | Report abuse

Somehow I don't think the 6:53 is entirely altruistic... *shrug*

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 1, 2010 7:01 AM | Report abuse

'good morning all. The Economist ran a good story on deep sea exploration for oil and gas and the use of giant deep sea drilling rigs for super-deep wells. Sadly there are at least a couple of wells in the Gulf that are almost twice as deep as the leaking one... http://www.economist.com/search/displaystory.cfm?story_id=15582301

As an engineer I find it a fascinating technology but obviously there are still issues that weren't fully considered.

A bit of a sad weekend for me, I will cut the small orchard of plum and apple trees I planted when we moved in 12 years ago. There are too many wild crabapple and apple trees around, I just can't make even a half decent crop of fruit. Fruit flies and their worms are everywhere. The shortsighted angelic ban on the retail sale of most pesticides doesn't help either. Yes, golf courses and farmers can still use the tons of pesticides they spray each year.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | May 1, 2010 7:09 AM | Report abuse

The problem here isn't that an accident happened. Accidents will happen. And it is because accidents are inevitable that failsafe mechanisms need to be robust.

I mean, look at nuclear power plants. They encase the things in great big concrete domes. They do this out of prudence and humility, which, in my mind, are two things grossly missing in what BP created.

As a result, instead of a serious but contained accident like, say, Three Mile Island, we are facing something more akin to Chernobyl.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 1, 2010 7:14 AM | Report abuse

Who is this RD_P, who is so wise in the ways of other technologies (ahem)??? :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 1, 2010 7:44 AM | Report abuse

Are there poppies in that field of innocence, a la Dorothy Gale? Somehow, daisies seems right...maybe a pony or two. Or a couple of singing/tap dancing chipmunks. With a bunny wearing oversized glasses. And shoes.

Posted by: LostInThought | May 1, 2010 8:18 AM | Report abuse

God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Morning, friends. That's a lot of oil for anyone to deal with. I can't imagine those numbers, and the clean-up, mind blowing.

Yoki, how do you like this southern weather, although TBG is closer to the north? Have fun.

Still dealing with my own reality. Have a great weekend folks. Love to all.

Posted by: cmyth4u | May 1, 2010 8:20 AM | Report abuse

I just heard that a BP executive said they had no idea that the spill could get this bad. Maybe that is because for the first few days they were arguing with the coast guard and trying to tell everyone that it wasn't that bad. If BP didn't know who was suppose to know? I guess BP must have thought if they could convice everyone that it was a small spill then the slick would never reach the shore. Typical oil company. Typical energy company for that matter.

Posted by: repudar711 | May 1, 2010 8:39 AM | Report abuse

No plan B after someone pressed the red button labeled "EMERGENCY SHUTOFF" and instead the flow increased. This is because multinational corporations simply don't need a plan B. They help write the regs.
The US is a corporatist government of, by, and for the large corporations.
Not much of a change here from Bush - or Clinton.

Posted by: Davidd1 | May 1, 2010 8:55 AM | Report abuse

. . . speaking of roses . . .

Posted by: talitha1 | May 1, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Happy May Day!

Here's a little folk song from that hotbed of radical anarcho-syndicalist ferment: ummm, Tennessee.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5iAIM02kv0g&feature=fvw

***

I'm willing to recognise BP is deploying some very impressive resources to contain the spill, but as others have pointed out their risk management appears suspect. It's a credible suspicion since whithout some hard-core statistical analysis and serious will, risk mitigation and contingency funding tend to whittle away in between accidents.

If I had a dollar for every time someone trying to save a few bucks said "that will never / can't happen"...

Posted by: qgaliana | May 1, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

"May Day! Why, that's the Russian New Year. You know we'll have a big parade and serve hot Hors d'Oeuvres..."

- Johnny from "Airplane"

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 1, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Isn't BP the company with all those 'green' environmental-friendly commercials?

As if.

Posted by: tslats | May 1, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, y'all.

Warm muffins, coffee and OJ on the table.

BP's latest press release focuses a lot on deploying boom at the effected areas. I hope they realize the US has roughly 1,600 miles of coastline along the Gulf coast. That's a lotta boom.

Posted by: MsJS | May 1, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Howdy y'all. Happy May Day. Workers of the World Unite!!!

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 1, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

"I will cut the small orchard of plum and apple trees I planted when we moved in 12 years ago."

Shrieking, have you tried the little nylon footies that women use to try on shoes in stores? You can buy them by the 300-count for orchards, too. While you're thinning the crop to the king fruit at quarter-coin size, you slip them over each apple and let it grow inside until a couple weeks from maturity. They're supposed to be the last word in more-or-less organic barriers against apple maggots and pretty good against coddling moths. I'll let you know how they work for me.

Posted by: Entenpfuhl | May 1, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

I doubt there is a worse place in the US for this spill to have happened. It's outrageous that BP wasn't prepared for it. Maybe we shouldn't be drilling that deep at all until we learn how to avert major catastrophes. But of course there's big money involved so...

At least it has given proponents of the Cape Wind project more ammo. Maybe the groups planning to sue will think twice. Or not.

It is just stunningly gorgeous outside today. I cut the front lawn and am going to play tennis this afternoon. On a side note to a discussion from a few days ago, I just found out that #2 is now helping to care for a Percheron in addition to the 'regular' horse she helps with. May try to make time tomorrow to meet the new horse.

Posted by: badsneakers | May 1, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

In Texas the barrier island (Padre Island, the island [there's a resort city with that name]) blocked a lot of Ixtoc I's oil from the delicate marsh ecosystem behind it. This may be much worse.

Seems Halliburton HAD just finished a cement job. If this failed, it could have happened in two ways: failed to protect a high-pressure zone from blowing into the hole or more likely failing to protect a lower pressure zone from being penetrated by the pressure-controlling drill mud, which would then be lost and not present to control deeper pressures from blowing out the well (later? after the rig collapse and subsequent underwater collapse of pipe?)

How the initial explosions, reported as "a generator" occurred or how that happened and exactly what then began to burn (assuming onboard diesel store used for rig power) I don't know.

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 1, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Don't know if yello has already mentioned it, but it's the first of May! You know what that means, don't you?

NSFW...

http://www.jonathancoulton.com/2010/04/30/please-do-not-get-arrested/

Posted by: -TBG- | May 1, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Deploying bloom is no help unless you can shut down the well. Prepare to shower with oil slick and starting drink water from water bottle. All of our national resources now tying up just to contain the spill from now until the end of the year. I think the likely thing is the spill keeps going until there is no oil left to spill. You may want to head down to Florida now while it is still pristine. We are environmentally doom! Thanks to Obama and the Republican oil drill supporters. The voters should know what to do this coming November.

Posted by: drkly | May 1, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

I am disgusted at BP and our own government's energy policy. No more deep water drilling until the technology exists to do so safely. The cost to coastal fishing and wildlife, to food and water sources, is too high. Mr. President, exercise leadership on this. Go to the Gulf and talk about the need for a safe energy policy. Till then -- no more drilling. Now we know what Sarah Palin stands for: Pollute, baby, pollute.

Posted by: Momo6 | May 1, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Hey, ftb, you monitoring? I was going through a big stack of 33 rpm records a little while ago in preparation for YardSale II: Mudge's Revenge next week and came across 11 Frank Sinatra records I don't want. Do you want them? (I also found the "It was a Very Good Year" album we talked about as well as one Frank-and-Splank album I'm keeping.)

yello, I've got about a dozen or so original Broadway cast albums, all in excellent condition. Do you collect/want them?

Got three Vaugn Meader albums, including TWO (have no idea why) "The First Family" albums. And god knows why, but there's an album of the Texas Aggie band. I have no freaking idea where that came from.

(A good many of these were my mother's.)

Got a whole passel (about a stack 15 inches high) of 78s, but I haven't gone through them yet. Got a bunch of classical 33's, too.

(My wife's gonna kill me when she sees the stack I'm keeping. 6" to 8" high.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | May 1, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, here's another item for your file of Copy Editor Fail. The front page has 'elludes'in the sub head of the principal's killing story.

Posted by: rickoshea11 | May 1, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

That reminds me that I have a large box of my aunt's old 78's in the cellar. Always meant to get a turntable that would play them. Someday...

Posted by: badsneakers | May 1, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

This BP disaster is going to do for offshore drilling what Three Mile Island did for nuclear power: render it politically unacceptable for a generation.

Posted by: pundito | May 1, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

If you don't regulate oil and gas and hold them accountable for safety this is what happens. It's not the accident that is inexcusable it's the lack of preparedness for the accident by BP. If they scream out against regulations b/c of cuts to billion dollar per year profit margins, then they can pay mightily for damages. We need to hold BP accountable and sue them into oblivion along with any other oil company that follows the same path. They will think thrice about drill baby drill. This country is spineless when it comes to imposing regulations on businesses. The damages of this spill could be shameless and if they are let's take down the dirty oil buggers.

Posted by: citizen4truth1 | May 1, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Sneaks, you are so lucky to have a horse crazy daughter. Like a friend with a boat. Because I couldn't justify the time or money for a horse for myself, I tried to get my kid interested in horses, but from the time he was 2, it was cars for him. And he loved cats. My BFF from high school has 3 daughters, the youngest of whom is a horse nut. My friend had no idea what she was getting into. And of course, there was a continent between us when all that was going on. Give the horsies some carrots for me.

Posted by: seasea1 | May 1, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

And, now, for something completely different ....

NEW KIT!

Feel free to mudge yourselves in the interim.

Posted by: -ftb- | May 1, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

@pundito (not that I think the poster shall return, but anyway)

I place little faith in your prediction skills. Why? You will very likely be surprised to hear that about half of U.S. commercial nuclear power plants were finished and came online AFTER Three Mile Island. The industry had essentially stopped applying for new reactors BEFORE the accident, as well.

*putting soapbox back in storage* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 1, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Of all the times to get mudged... *L*

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 1, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

I suppose that's because the killers are elllusive.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | May 1, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

The Chickens have come home to roost for the Gulf coast and GOP Drill-Baby-Drill crowd. You leveraged yuor future on Oil lease Royalties instead of education and technology for broad based employment and success. Now you can use the Oil royalties received over the years to clean up what was once God given Pristine Beaches and breeding grounds for Shrimp and Oysters. We Told You So just doesn't seem like enough.

The first few days of this spill the Oil companies, Republican Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, and GOP allies said it was nothing, don't worry about it. We all knew different so don't Whine and Cry now. Man up to BP and Oil Industry lack of Safety Practices, and GOP lack of support for safety regulations that caused this. This is a GOP and Oil Industry made Disaster. Stop Crying and Whining for your Mama and face the reality that veterans who served in the Middle East already know: that we must develop alternatives to Oil and Coal and Create Jobs in other Industries.

Right now, Alabama Senator Shelby and other GOP leaders are stalling Energy Legislation that will fund our Alternatives and Free us from Oil and Coal Dependence. Call them now and tell them to stop Stalling. Our Beaches, Industries, Military, Environment and Health cannot afford Waiting and Stalling on the most important JOBS and Energy Independence Legislation we need NOW.

www.votevets.org

BP and the Oil Industry should pay for the full cost for Cleanup of the Gulf Oil Spill environmental disaster; For the Jobs in Tourism and Commercial Fishing lost; For Military, Coast Guard, Homeland Security, FEMA support; plus a $500 Billion dollar Negligence Penalty to fund Oil Replacement Technologies. Cutting corners and creating disasters like this should have a devastating effect on the companies responsible and not just the local economies and resources. The Taxpayer should not be bailing out Oil Companies.

Oil companies should be required to install remote Shut Off Valves on all Seabed drilling operations and drill Secondary Relief wells. So far they have fought against these requirements which are common in Canada, Norway and Brazil.
All Clean up costs and lost revenue expenses plus $500 Billion for Negligence is the least we should Mandate.

Posted by: liveride | May 1, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

From an AP story at the St. Petersburg Times:

"These people, we've been beaten down, disaster after disaster," said Matt O'Brien of Venice, whose fledgling wholesale shrimp dock business is under threat from the spill.

"They've all got a long stare in their eye," he said. "They come asking me what I think's going to happen. I ain't got no answers for them. I ain't got no answers for my investors. I ain't got no answers."

http://customwire.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_GULF_OIL_SPILL?SITE=FLPET&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2010-05-01-13-43-37
____________________________________

Sounds like this week's letter to the editor of Science, pointing out that a swath of the Pacific, including Tonga, has been repeatedly pummeled by extraordinary natural disasters, and that the local societies, though extremely resilient, need help.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | May 1, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

A sharp-eyed individual spotted a gloomy story at the Gainesville Sun:

http://www.gainesville.com/article/20100430/ARTICLES/100439956?Title=Expert-Florida-East-Coast-could-get-the-brunt

The Sun's reporter talked to University of Florida experts. At present, it looks like the Gulf loop current will pick up oil and send it to Florida's east coast, soon.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | May 1, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse

For Obam this must really suck, first he is trying to eliminate the international ban on whaling, now a eco-disaster days after pushing for offshore drilling.
Correct me if I am wrong but this is the opposite of what he promised?

Posted by: grr2 | May 1, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse

By mid May, Florida's main oil disaster may be on the Atlantic coast. Sea turtle conservationists, having made it through a long, cold winter, are now prepping for an oily nesting season.

I need to ask around about what might happen to the Keys, especially the massive sea grass beds west of the Marquesas Keys, which are grazed by very large numbers of green sea turtles.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | May 1, 2010 7:37 PM | Report abuse

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