Following in the steps of “The Dome” and “Top Hat,” British Petroleum’s 3rd act, “Top Kill” has flopped, along with its secondary companion, “Junk Shot,” leaving the blown-out well Deepwater Horizon still gushing an unknown volume of ancient toxic sunlight rushing into the complex ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico, and consequently also into the Atlantic Ocean. This cocktail has been further enhanced with the injection at the well-site of a “dispersant,” Corexit, of a highly toxic nature such that some countries forbid its use. Injected into the oil stream at 5,000 feet underwater the effect of the dispersant appears to be to prevent the oil from rising to the sea’s surface, thus hiding the full extent of the spill from obvious view. Scientists have located several massive “plumes” of oil/dispersant mix, located from 300 feet, to several thousands of feet down, in layers. The effect of these massive lakes of toxins – 10 miles long, 3 miles wide, and hundreds of feet thick – on the ecology of the region is unknown though it can be assumed it will not be benign, but rather devastatingly destructive, from the bottom of the food chain and cascading over time to the top. The elements involved are known to be carcinogenic and to wreak havoc on biological development.
Since the initial blow-out and destruction of the Transocean drilling rig, BP has in classic corporate fashion provided false information as to the scope of its problem and the origins of it. In the meek Congressional hearing done so far, BP, Transocean and Halliburton each attempted to shift blame to the other parties. Thus far it has been ascertained that BP, requested and obtained from the Minerals Management Service of the US Government a pass on making any environmental impact report. It did so on the assertion that the probabilities of any oil spillage was infinitely small. BP also chose, for reasons of economizing, to not install a half-million dollar fail-safe device which may have been able to choke off the well in case of a blow-out. Further, BP chose to order its subcontractor, to commence injecting water rather than “heavy mud” at a late stage in the completion of the well, apparently in haste to finish capping the well so that it could commence production, as well as to avoid further the half-million dollars per day lease rate on the Transocean rig. Despite signs in the last 48 hours of the capping process that there were major anomalies, BP pressed ahead to complete, skipping some standard engineering tests to assure the proper sealing of the well, and ignored tests results which suggested that the work had not functioned properly. This economizing produced a major industrial accident, which appears well on its way to being an equivalent to Chernobyl in its ecological and in turn economic impact on the globe. As with Chernobyl the responsible parties have done their best, until evidence forced the matter to the open, to keep the truth hidden: corporations behave exactly as did the USSR in this respect.
What this catastrophe has done, in tandem with the American economic crisis commencing in 2008, is to demonstrate that effectually large corporations and banks now are beyond the control of any government, or conversely that they have corrupted the governments so that government is subservient to corporate desires and demands. When the US EPA ordered BP to stop utilizing Corexit, BP refused and has suffered thus far no penalty for doing so. The US government says it has no expertise or the tools to use to stanch the mile-deep rupture. The fact is, neither evidently does BP, which, with a corrupted MMS and EPA, gave permissions on the premise that nothing would happen, and if so, BP had the means to deal with it. As Mr Obama stated, he was surprise that “BP didn’t have their act together.” Mr Obama is in for a steep learning curve on the nature of American and other corporate realities if he didn’t understand this earlier, especially since he already had the harsh lesson of Wall Street’s malfeasance only a year ago. Or, more clearly, whatever his good intentions, Mr Obama was long since brought and bought into the system, and doesn’t understand that he is a captive of its mentality and mechanisms and thereby cannot offer any solutions to the problems it produces. It will require some kind of revolution to produce a new paradigm for us to re-organize our lives for surviving on this planet.
For a recent update on what happened behind the scenes at British Petroleum – choices made to ignore or dismiss negative information, see this.
NYTimes photo-essay on the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
UK Guardian general item on BP, oil industry practices.
British Petroleum is the 4th largest corporate entity in the world; it is 69% owned by the British government, including the Queen.
What BP has done now in the Gulf of Mexico as well as in other settings, other oil industry giants have done in places less visible to Americans around the globe: