Was BP prepared to handle a deepwater oil leak like the Gulf of Mexico disaster? The uncontrolled underwater gusher began when the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank. The owner of this drilling rig, Transocean, bragged that it had used the Deepwater Horizon to set a new record for drilling the deepest oil and gas well to date. The second paragraph of the Transocean press release is haunting, crowing about “intensive planning” to reach this new record—and offering, “Congratulations to everyone involved.” Now, the Deepwater Horizon is setting a record for the biggest oil spill ever.
BP leased the Deepwater Horizon rig. The petro giant’s CEO Tony Hayward admitted Sunday that they could have been more prepared to handle a disaster like this one, according to the Wall Street Journal. In the interview, Hayward says that BP got a lot of equipment to the site very quickly. He called it the “biggest subsea intervention vessel armada that has ever been deployed … anywhere in the history of the oil and gas industry.” The problem was what to do with the equipment. “What we had to develop was the specific subsea engineering.” (See the full interview here.)
To me, this sounds like Hayward is saying that BP wasn’t adequately prepared to handle an event like this one. It’s one thing to rush equipment to a disaster site. It’s another to have a good plan—worked out well in advance of crisis—of what to do with the equipment. Indeed, CBS News reports that several senators have asked the U.S. Attorney General to launch a criminal investigation of BP. The alleged charge could be that BP obtained a drilling permit under “false pretenses,” claiming that it knew how to address any deepwater oil spill when, in fact, it didn’t know how to.
If BP didn’t have a well-worked plan for addressing disasters like this, should they be charged with “environmental crimes?”
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(Originally posted in www.OurValues.org)