Monday, May 31, 2010

BP: Biblical Proportions - 40 Days & a Plague of Oil

British Petroleum has failed in its latest attempt to plug the hole in the bottom of the sea that is currently unleashing a plague of oil upon the Gulf of Mexico and its ecosystem. Estimates of the spill range from the governments 12,000 to 19.000 barrels (approximately 500,000 to 800,000 gallons) per day. Some independent scientists put the flow from the spill even higher. No matter what figures are used, at least 20 million barrels have already leaked and there is no end in sight.

As noted, BP's effort to plug the spill using high density drilling fluid (called mud in the trade) failed. Their next effort will involve sitting a container over the top of the faulty blowout preventer. Efforts to drill another well to relieve the pressure will likely not be completed until August.

What is happening is an entire ecosystem is being destroyed while BP fiddles about. Initially attempting to minimize the spill, reporting only 1000 barrels a day flow, BP has consistently underestimated damage and overestimated their technical abilities. It is now coming out, as reported on ABC News, that BP used a riskier metal casing on the well head due to its costs.

From its explosion at a refinery in Texas to its shoddy pipeline maintenance in wilderness areas, BP has a history of cutting corners when it comes to safety and environmental protection. Its efforts to maximize its profits have always come ahead of these priorities. BP Managing Director Bob Dudley, making the rounds on the morning news shows, defended BP's actions and attempted to minimize their blame. Had a relief well been drilled along with the first well, or there had been redundancy in the blowout preventer, this tragedy could have been averted. Dudley repeatedly stressed how difficult it is to stop this. EXACTLY, that's why extraordinary safety precautions should have been taken before beginning to drill a mile underwater.

When a similar disaster occurred off the coast of Saudi Arabia years ago, the spill was surrounded by tankers which sucked up the water and removed the oil. Dudley stated that it was not feasible to do this because it was a different mixture of oil. In essence, he admitted that the reason BP is not doing this is that it is cost prohibitive. He failed to mention that there are no tankers available because of a world oil glut that has tankers sitting full all over the world awaiting better prices before selling (don't take my word for this, check it out and you'll find that its true).

From using environmentally toxic dispersants to failing to protect the beaches, from cutting costs by not drilling relief wells to using cheaper metal casings than recommended, BP has been responsible for creating this disaster. It is not just an accident, it is criminal negligence. If a private citizen had a tool shed full of gasoline and it exploded and killed the neighbor, no one would see it as just an accident. The negligence of improper behavior would likely result in a charge of homicide. Given that eleven workers have already been killed, it is only proper to expect charges of criminally negligent homicide in their deaths. Who has jurisdiction?

British Petroleum Gulf Oil Spill Costs

  • 11 workers killed in initial blast
  • Damage to Ocean Ecosystem
  • 35,000 to 60.000 Barrels of Oil Per Day. That's somewhere between 1,500,000 to 2,500,000 gallons a day or 150 to 300 million gallons already spilled into the ocean as of July 27th by that estimate.
  • Gulf Fisheries Industry
  • Gulf Tourism (ongoing costs)
  • Long Term Health Effects to Humans and Wildlife (to be determined)

Worst Oil Spills

  • Kuwait 1991 - 520 million gallons: Gulf War I
  • Gulf of Mexico 2010 - 206 million gallons: BP Oil
  • Mexico, Bay of Campiche 1979 - 140 million gallons: Pemex Oil
  • Trinidad & Tobago 1979 - 90 million gallons: Greek Oil Tanker Atlantic Empress
  • Russia 1983 - 84 million gallons: Leaky Pipeline collapsed into Kolva River
  • Iran 1983 - 80 million gallons: Tanker collided with Oil Platform
  • South Africa 1983 -79 million gallons:Tanker Castillo de Bellver sank
  • France 1978 - 69 million Gallons: Amoco Cadiz ran aground and broke in half.
  • Angola Coastal Waters (700 miles at sea) 1991 - 51-81 million gallons: ABT Summer exploded at sea.
  • Italy 1991 - 45 million gallons: M/T Haven Oil Tanker exploded.
  • Source: Mother Nature Network. The 13 largest oil spills in history. by Laura Moss. Friday July 16, 2010.

Nuclear Accidents (Under Construction)

  • 1957 Windscale, UK
  • 1961 Idaho Falls, Idaho, US
  • 1979 Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania, US
  • 1984 Athens, Alabama, US
  • 1985 Athens, Alabama, US
  • 1986 Plymouth, Masachusetts, US
  • 1986 Chernobyl, Ukraine, USSR
  • 1996 Waterford, Connecticut, US
  • 1989 Griefwald, Germany
  • 1999 Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan
  • 2002 Oak Harbor, Ohio, US
  • 2004 Fukui Prefecture, Japan
  • Source: Benjamin Sovacool

Mining Disasters (Under Construction)

  • China 1942 - 1549 deaths
  • France 1906 - 1100 deaths
  • Japan 1963 - 447 deaths
  • Wales 1913 - 438 deaths
  • South Africa 1960 - 437 deaths
  • Source: Epic Disasters Website
  • Note: Do not look at the dates herein and conclue that mining disasters are a things of the past. Every year thousands of miners die worldwide in largely unreported accidents.

OIL IS OVER! - Resources

  • Hibbert's Peak - "The" source that explains why Oil is Over.
  • Tragedy of the Commons -Garrett Hardin
  • The Land Ethic - Aldo Leopold
  • Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight - Thom Hartmann
  • Eco-Defense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching


  • The Dirt People - Ray Bawarchi (yes, that's me)
  • The Razor's Edge - Somerset Maugham
  • Demian - Herman Hesse
  • Black Elk Speaks - Black Elk (as told to R. Neimur)
  • The Quiet Don - Mikhail Sholokov
  • Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
  • Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
  • 1984 - George Orwell
  • Delicious Laughter - Jallahudin Rumi
  • The Sybil - Par Lagerksvitz
  • The Fixer - Bernard Malamud
  • Spirits Rebellious - Khalil Gibran
  • The Quiet American - Graham Greene
  • Midaq Alley - Nagib Mafouz
  • Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Farenheit 451- Ray Bradbury
  • We - Yevgeny Zamyatin


  • John Coltrane - St. John the Divine
  • Patti Smith
  • The Clash - the only band that matters
  • Billy Bragg
  • Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band
  • Art Blakey
  • Death - pre-punk visionaries from Detroit
  • PJ Harvey - Polly Jean, Polly Jean
  • Woody Guthrie
  • Michael Franti (Spearhead)
  • Public Enemy
  • Ray Charles - the Genius
  • Bob Dylan
  • Velvet Underground
  • Flaming Lips
  • John Doe & X
  • The Beatles

opiate of the masses

  • God is a comedian, playing to an audience too afraid to laugh. - Voltaire
  • I do not feel obliged to believe that the same god who has endowed us with sense, reason and inellect has intended us to forgo their use. - Galileo Galilei
  • The ink of a scholar is worth far more than the blood of a martyr.- Mohammad
  • If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him. - Sheldon Kopp
  • No one will be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest. - Louisa Mae Alcott
  • When it is a question of money, everyone is of the same religion.- Voltaire
  • If God were alive today, he'd be an athiest. - Kurt Vonnegut
  • The god I worship is not short of cash, Mister. - Bono
  • Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine. My sins they only belong to me. - Patti Smith
  • God sure baked a lot of fruitcake baby, when Adam met the Eden lady. - Joe Strummer