Offshore Drilling Bill Needs Environmental Safeguards -Part 2
PART 2 - INDEPENDENT OCEAN FLOOR OBSERVATORIES FOR MONITORING
One of the biggest failures in the Gulf oil crisis was the inability of the regulators to stop the consistent flow of manipulated information fed by BP about the oil spill. This was primarily because the Obama administration had no legal right to give the access, in the Macondo Prospect well's leased property, to independent media and scientific groups to monitor the situation. This anomaly needs to be reversed by legislative changes, and Fiberglas observatory stations at the ocean floor for independent monitoring at site must be introduced as a mandatory environmental safety clause in all offshore platform leases.
Be it digitally modified video films, or reduced estimate of oil spill, the ineffective containment or the risky planning of mitigation, BP was always the master of the show at Macondo and its efforts were always lacking transparency, authenticity and honesty. People who were witness to the 1969 Santa Barbara spill would have noted the similarity in the statements between the United Oil Vice President John Frazer and BP CEO Tony Hayward. Both issued misleading data of lower spill volumes, of things under control and of dispersant having minimum effect on the environment.
As the Santa Barbara Drilling Platform was just 5.8 miles from the coast, it was impossible to stop the media from recording evidence or reporting the details of environmental damage due to the proximity to the land. In case of BP the platform was located in the high seas over 41 miles away from the coast and was cordoned off by the company security not permitting photographers or even scientists from collecting evidence of the environmental damage or progress in well repair. So what did we miss out?
Well, we missed what happened below the seas. The furious bubbling of oil and natural gas that must have occurred from the ocean bed at several places miles around the well, like it did at Santa Barbara 40 years ago. We missed out the sight of the plumes of hot water and methane gas that must have risen soon after the explosion and also after each failed effort at the well capping. We missed out the monitoring of 700,000 gallons of sub-sea toxic dispersant and over a thousand tonnes of other chemicals (not classified as a dispersant), mixed with mud, cement and solvents used by BP to stop and mitigate the effects of oil and particularly methane seeping through the ocean bed. We missed out most of the action which happened as per Mr Hayward at the sub-sea level.Continued on the next page