They’re calling it an oil leak. It is not an oil leak. It is a gushing torrent of raw oil pushing out from the ocean floor, under huge pressure, unabated. There is a clear villain in this. It is BP Oil and their failure to observe basic safety guidelines.
I’ve been watching the congressional hearings (the US House Energy and Commerce Committee) and BP is not taking responsibility. Tony Hayward, the CEO, says he is sorry, he feels terrible about this, and admits it’s a terrible disaster. Poor Tony. Tony is responsible for this disaster, but hedges every statement by saying he had no direct knowledge of what was going on. He is the CEO, for god’s sake. He is delegating the responsibility and the blame to little people, far down the corporate food chain.
You know, as you get older and supposedly more mature, you start to look at issues with a broader scope – the adamant one-dimensional viewpoints of our youth slip away, perhaps unfortunately, as we learn more and see many sides of things. I know I’m certainly less vehement about a lot of things I used to think were clear. And on some issues, my viewpoints have changed dramatically. Like, I think police are necessary and we need more of them (speaking of the USA). Although generally I think it’s a bad practice, I can understand why some people might need guns (although that is certainly out of control). Although I can’t possibly understand all the issues, I think the USA might be right in sending troops to Afghanistan. I don’t know where I am any more on unions. Maybe waterboarding wasn’t such a bad idea, all things considered. Etc.
But certain issues are inviolate. They haven’t changed for me. Equal pay for equal work. Non-discrimination. I’m against hurting or killing people, especially children. Abortion rights yes. No on capital punishment. Health care for all Americans. A better educational system. Gay rights absolutely. I think the government has to impose rules of behavior and protection and even of ethics. (although they are hardly perfect themselves). And I think leaders, especially obscenely paid ones, should take responsibility.
In my plodding, middle-aged way, I was well on the road to thinking corporations had been unfairly portrayed as bad guys. I worked for Boeing for a number of years and thought they were ethical and reasonable with workers and with the way they made their products. I lost the “evil corporation” fervor of my youth. I mean if it weren’t for commercial competition, we wouldn’t have…(fill in the blanks).
But this BP thing has blown my perspective all to hell. BP are bad guys. BP knowingly, against the advice of their own engineers, followed unsafe procedures in order to save money and time. They had no emergency plans in place.
There was apparently a choice at some point between doing things one way or another in building the catastrophic oil well (known within BP as the “nightmare well”). One method cost seven million dollars more than the other, so BP chose the less expensive option, which was known to be less safe. Other oil companies have said they would never have used that method because it was dangerous. Tony said he wan’t part of that decision -making process and couldn’t comment on it.
In a five-year period, BP had 956 unsafe practices reported by government monitoring agencies, while Sunoco had six and Exxon had one.
There is a safety mechanism available, a remote shutoff control that is used by many oil drilling companies, according to the Wall Street Journal. BP did not choose to invest in these products. This mechanism could have prevented the disaster.
Every time a congressman asked Tony a question, he would say, “I was not party to that information,” or, “I was not part of that decision-making process.” When Henry Waxman, committee chair, asked who WOULD have known the dangers associated with this particular well, Tony said, “the drill team.” Give me a break.
From the Washington Post:
“There is a complete contradiction between BP’s words and deeds,” Waxman said. “Under your leadership, BP has taken the most extreme risks.
“We are seeing the same corporate indifference that cause collapse on Wall Street.”
And may I say here that Tony Hayward was awfully calm and quiet. The congressmen asked him repeatedly to speak more clearly and please speak directly into the mike. His affect was flat, his face never changed, he barely moved, his voice had zero inflection, his answers were fully rehearsed. I wonder what could have caused him to be in such a state? Well, considering that he has the the environmental future of the globe on his shoulders, he is hardly to be blamed for calming himself down before this appearance. We wouldn’t want him to have a nervous breakdown.
The oil disaster continues unabated, all efforts to halt it or slow it down meet with failure, and the environmental damage, so far limited to the US Gulf coast, is increasingly disastrous. Thousands of people are out of work, all the wildlife in the affected areas – marine, avian and land creatures – are dead or dying. There are dire predictions of the oil contamination spreading to Florida, to Mexico, and to the USA east coast. If it continues for years, it may affect the entire world.
When we watch CNN and they are talking about the Gulf disaster, there is almost always an inset shot of the massive amounts of oil, shooting powerfully into the surrounding waters. Up to 120 million gallons so far. I’m not a marine biologist, but it seems to me it would take many many years for this to clear up, even if they managed to stop the flow right now. And it hasn’t even been slowed down. After 59 days.
The live-camera shots of the oil billowing into the Gulf makes me ill. So does the footage of the oil-covered marsh birds, being cleaned, one by one, a tiny fraction of the bird population. No fish. No shrimp. No crab. No plants. No algae.
Now some experts are saying that even if they manage to construct “containment wells” to redirect the oil and siphon it up normally, that still might not work. It might not even work to build two wells. They are predicting mid-August as the time the first one may be finished.
Tony Hayward earned a salary of 4.7 million dollars in 2009.
The torrent of oil gushing from the deep seems like as much of a threat to the world as global warming.