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Six lessons from the BP oil spill

From the Christian Science Monitor site. See http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2010/0710/Six-lessons-from-the-BP-oil-spill for the whole article and expanded discussion of the 6 steps. .

Six lessons from the BP oil spill

What the tragedy of the BP oil spill has taught us about regulations, technology, and how our energy diet must change.
By Laurent Belsie, Staff writer / July 10, 2010

So what are the lessons of the Great Spill of 2010? the following is a synopsis of these steps from the article

1 Improve the offshore police

Wanted: People who understand the physics of recovering oil from the bottom of the ocean floor. Need to be intimately familiar with the mechanics of deep drilling – in other words, know that a RAM BOP has nothing to do with text messaging. Must be tough-minded and dispassionate. Must be willing to refuse any “gifts” from the oil industry, like free hunting and fishing trips. No golf outings with industry executives, either.

2 design a better drill rig

As oil discoveries in deeper waters beckon, giant new rigs will plunge drill bits two miles below the sea surface and five more miles into the earth – the equivalent of 29 Empire State Buildings. But such ultradeep drilling means ultrahigh pressures. At any time a bit could hit a pocket of pressurized gas that bursts to the surface and explodes. Capping a blowout 10,000 feet down would make the Deepwater Horizon problem look like a do-it-yourself caulk job.

3 manage the cleanup like Churchill

In the 1990s, experts from Columbia University and Boeing Corporation tried to prod the oil industry into planning for disasters as a critical part of the so-called lean management movement. No luck.

“The industry thought it was added cost, and because incentives were heavily biased towards cost cutting, they turned it down,” says Roger Anderson, a senior scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, N.Y.

4 Find something better than a boom

The ideas for new tools to clean up oil spills range from the mundane (better chemical dispersants to break up the crude so it will degrade naturally) to the exotic (ravenous microbes to eat the oil off beaches).

5 Tap the power of the people

The moment Gulfport, Miss., resident Megan Jordan feared has arrived. The viscous onslaught of crude is no longer an abstract horror belonging to Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida. The first globules of oil have slipped through the Mississippi Sound and washed ashore in nearby Ocean Springs. For Ms. Jordan and her neighbors, this isn’t just any beach – it’s the keeper of memories, the provenance of dreams. The destruction is hard to bear.  Their passion, properly channeled, could become a crucial element in future oil spill defense. Experts say that by tapping into local knowledge – and love – communities could formulate emergency plans to bolster what residents have criticized as a slow, inadequate government and corporate response.

6 Recalibrate our energy policy

It has become one of the iconic images of 2010: oil gushing from the floor of the Gulf, almost one mile below the surface, where it mushrooms up from BP’s failed drilling rig like clouds of café au lait. The undersea feed from robotic cameras has popped up on national news telecasts and cable shows, during televised congressional hearings and presidential speeches – a potent reminder that for all the talk and technology, man’s search for oil is risky and beginning to push the limits of human engineering.

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