A new federal report into the causes of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico has found that BP took multiple serious shortcuts in exploratory drilling and that the operation was behind schedule and over budget. This conclusion echoes the results of previous investigations, including the January report by national commission on the oil spill.
The report also reiterated concerns about the use of blowout preventers, which are meant to be a final defense against oil rig disasters. In the case of the Deepwater Horizon spill, the blowout preventer mechanism was weakened by a failure in the drill pipe, which connects the surface rig to the well. This pipe, which spanned 5,000 feet, possibly buckled because it was simply too heavy to support itself.
Oceana has released a response calling for an end to new drilling in the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of the new report.
"This report confirms that bad decisions and improper, risky actions were at the root of the accident," said senior campaign director Jackie Savitz. "All deepwater drilling activities would, by their nature, also have thousands of feet of drill pipe, and could be vulnerable to the same danger."
Other fatal shortcuts cited in the report include cement failure at the base of the well, last-minute changes in drilling plans, insufficient emergency planning, and numerous violations of federal regulations governing oil well management.
Today, Congress returns from elections to wrap up its work for this session, which means that time is running out for the Senate to pass any legislation in response to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The House of Representatives already passed their version of a spill response bill back in July, and now it is the Senate’s turn to act.
The Gulf of Mexico needs help, and it needed it yesterday. Of course, the only way to prevent another catastrophe like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is to ban new offshore oil and gas drilling. In the meantime, the least we can do is pass a bill to clean up and restore the devastation that the oil industry has inflicted upon our oceans and coasts.
My other photos of the day have been cool underwater creatures. But today, my focus is something you can see above the waves. This beautiful photo is marred by that pesky oil rig in the distance, otherwise breaking up a fantastic sunset.
It is no surprise that as an ocean conservation group, we are against offshore drilling. Our expedition will continue for several more weeks, looking for how the BP drilling diaster has affected the area. But we are also working to make sure that an event like this never happens again.
In his address to the nation last week, President Obama almost got it right.
He described his vision for America’s clean energy future, which includes wind, solar, and other renewable sources, in addition to energy efficiency.
But his vague entreaties for progress on this most crucial of issues left out vital specifics and he stopped frustratingly short of saying what is on the minds of so many of us in the wake of the tragic and seemingly endless disaster in the Gulf: it is time for a ban on offshore drilling.
When he introduced the creation of a commission to investigate the causes of the Deepwater Drilling Disaster, the president displayed the same stale mindset that has plagued so many before him: that through improved technology we can make safe what is inherently an unsafe, dirty, and dangerous practice.
We don’t need to improve offshore drilling: We need to ban it.