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There is nothing like the taste of crow deep-fried in a barrel of light, sweet crude.

Posted by on May. 2, 2010 at 11:12 AM
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This is a commentary.........nothing more nothing less..

 With a side of poached tar balls.

It has been served up daily in my e-mail:

Dear Mike: Remind me one more time why offshore drilling is responsible and necessary? Your brain is diminishing more quickly than your carbon footprint.

Dear Mike: The first thing I thought of when I saw pictures of the oil slick were your columns swearing these drilling platforms were harmless and could be used for sunbathing within a dingy hop from St. Pete Beach.

Here is what I said only one month ago about drilling off Florida's coast: "There is no difference between drilling 45 miles offshore and 125 miles offshore. Given the safety record of drilling in American waters, this is about the most benign way possible to extract fossil fuels."

Not if you're a Louisiana pelican, it seems.

For someone who covered the shuttle Challenger explosion, I should have known better. I bashed
NASA for its negligence, then fell into the same mindset on offshore drilling.

The space and oil disasters share many similarities. The technology behind them had not failed in the past, creating a complacency that they would not fail in the future despite the harshest operating environments possible. With the shuttle it was space; with drilling it was ocean depths up to 5,000 feet and holes drilled another 20,000 feet. The heat and pressure are tremendous.

Both endeavors require an army of people do their jobs correctly and that thousands of components function properly. Margins for error are miniscule. The smallest of breaches can lead to catastrophic failure in a fraction of a second.

It is impossible to eliminate such risk, just manage it with training, oversight, engineering and redundant safety systems.

NASA believed it had the risks of space flight so well managed, a crew escape plan was not necessary.

The oil companies believed they had the risks of drilling so well managed, a fast-response blowout plan was not necessary.

Now there is a plan to lower a dome over the leak and funnel the oil up to a tanker. But it has never been tested at extreme depths. A plan to bring in another rig and drill a second hole to plug this one will take months.

Given the increased amount of deep-water drilling, the natural questions are:

Why haven't they tested a dome at depths to see if it would work? Why isn't a dome ready to go?

And why isn't there a backup drilling rig stationed in the Gulf, ready for immediate deployment?

I know the answers. The drilling industry considered the blowout risk so low that it did not justify the cost of adequate preparation.

And I fell for it, based on the industry's record. I didn't do my due diligence and ask, "What if?"

Chew. Chew.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/columnists/os-mike-thomas-oil-drilling-050210-20100502,0,1062112.column

Every asshole who ever chanted 'Drill baby drill' should have to report to the Gulf coast today for cleanup duty. -Bill Maher

by on May. 2, 2010 at 11:12 AM
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