On April 20, 2010 a catastrophic explosion on the Deepwater Horizon off shore drilling platform caused the largest single release to the environment due to oil drilling. This explosion killed 11 workers and injured 17. This oil spill is very controversial because it can be questioned if this spill could have been prevented and what exactly went wrong. There is much debate on who is to blame, what could have been done to prevent it and who is going to pay for all the damage.
Many are not happy with the settlement BP is signing that will keep them from further criminal prosecution if they agree to pay the settlement amount. Paying retribution is fine, but what about the future damaging effects that we have no way of even knowing about now. Who will take care of that? These are some of the basic questions people are asking about this case and my responses.
What can this accident teach us?
This accident should teach us all that there is a great responsibility taken on when you go into the earth and try to harvest chemical products that have potential for negative effects on human welfare and health.
The government needs to be in charge of regulating these activities to preserve the future of our environment.
Had you been in charge of granting permit for this, what measures would you have prescribed to prevent or mitigate the impacts of such an accident?
Policies need to be in place that ensures that properly trained personnel are on site at all times to ensure the safety of the drilling process. Only experienced personnel could properly react to an emergency and possibly be able to mitigate further damage. Knowledge and experience are required to recognize potential hazards in time and prevent even bigger negative effects. BP engineers were supposedly aware of variations in the pressure prior to the explosion. These engineers probably did not have the authority to request work be stopped so further inspections could be made. Politics involved with the money at stake sometimes lead to dangerous decisions. If someone with the knowledge and authority to make an executive decision was there, this tragedy could possibly have been avoided.
If you were in a policy making forum, what national or international policy measures would you recommend for reducing long term risk from off-shore drilling.
I think the policies on long term risk from off-shore drilling accidents could be addressed by building some kind of boundary wall to contain the drill site, even if there was not a spill. Just the act of drilling is releasing some form of contamination and if that contamination could be contained before it gets incorporated into the entire different city/ country’s water supply it would be a great benefit to prevent long term effects of oil contamination.
International policies need to be in effect that maintain the same standards across the board. If one country has low standards and takes in the contaminated water… they will then be releasing it into the environment and the contamination will still affect neighboring countries/cities that may have stricter standards.
If I was involved in any type of policymaking forum, I would try to get policy passed that had strict policies regarding quality control practices regarding the technology being used to drill for the oil and the equipment maintenance.
Increased testing of drilling equipment during and between drilling process, not just at the start stage. Sometimes equipment fails during use and quality measures need to be in place to make frequent inspections.
What changes would you require in terms of ethical conduct by regulators?
Regulators need to not be financially involved with projects the are legislating. This is a huge ethical problem because kickbacks and donations often lead to favorable legislations in favor of the party standing to gain and not for the best interest of the public.
To what degree may politics have clouded judgment and influenced decisions that where made?
Relaxed government regulation was probably made because the government in efforts to promote business, made acquisitions that were dangerous and costly to the environment in the long run.