Walter Rhett

Wishful thinking

In National Government on July 15, 2010 at 12:11 pm


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I wish BP was more transparent about the planning, review, and technical processes for sealing the well. It is unthinkable in 85 days the oil flow from a 21 inch pipe has killed the ocean’s plankton, the key food source for marine life; annihilated America’s most valuable wetlands and destroyed the natural habitat for one of our most important renewable industries; and impacted the fragile eco-system of the ocean and shore lines of five states–yet there is NO transparency about the choices of chemical dispersants, which by some reports have simply driven the oil out of sight, suspending it beneath the surface; where by other reports, its micro-particles cloud the waters and create the potential for vast dead zones and ultimately may do more harm than if the oil had been left to rise en masse to the surface.

The same dark glass covers the engineering processes and decisions carried out by BP to cap the well. This delay of installing the new cap to debate the consequences of the well pressure on the bore hole should have been completed and settled weeks ago. Why is the science and assessment running behind the construction and installation of the cap? Is BP working from a multi-scenario model, projecting good, bad, and worse results? How is data being collected and assessed? Is sound theory driving the containment effort? Why does BP spend millions on advertising but will not open its doors to view how its teams use the most powerful tool in containing the well, the multiple disciplines of applied science?

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This disaster is a fascinating story of science: an action thriller in which an important American legacy teeters in the brink, yet the science that is being used to fight the bilge is almost secret, unshared, and except for narrow specifics, unexplained. Television sound bites are a poor substitute for the many of us who want to be fully informed.

I, for one suggested, using conventional weapons and naval systems to implode the well; exactly what President Clinton suggested during an interview from South Africa. While the Times examined a nuclear option, the most sensational and unsafe of all the explosive methods, it did not explore with detail or careful consideration, non-nuclear options, how they were assessed, or why they were rejected, and by whom.

I’ve read blogs in which people have reported that Florida’s marine biologists are reporting the death of the plankton, but have seen no follow ups or confirmations.
There has been no investigative reporting on why BP developed three caps, only the last of which is intended to fully seal the cut pipe.
There have been no reports on why the relief well, now within 400 feet of the main well, will take three to four weeks to finish.

The reporting of the science and the applied scientific processes being employed to seal the well has been dismal. The failure to use science reporting as leverage, to enhance transparency and offer insights has been an opportunity missed. Somehow it has added to the confused feelings and growing anger I have about the uncapped well.

I trust the science more than BP’s PR. I wish I knew more about it, and somehow were better informed.

Charleston, SC
July 14th, 2010
1:00 pm

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Stir the Perlo, leave a comment, /wr.
All photos used under creative commons license, fair use, or government works.
Blow Out Preventer, Cameron-Nautronix NASMUX, illustrated only for educational purposes; not the BOP installed on the Deepwater Horizon well.

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