Posted by: Green Knight | May 2, 2010

Oil Spills

11 workers killed, the Gulf Coast fishing industry killed for a while.  The “Deepwater Horizon” was supposed to be state-of-the-art.  I have a friend who worked for BP in Alaska, and he told me about illegal burial of hazardous waste up there in the ’90s.  Kind of ironic that this happened 2 days before the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.  The first Earth Day was prompted by a similar situation, the blowout at Platform A off the coast of Long Beach, California, in November of 1969.  PBS did a special on it called “Black Tide.”  40 years later, and we still haven’t improved the technology enough to keep this shit from occurring.  While the administration calls this a national issue, they are still planning on expanding offshore oil drilling.  Then there’s the other offshore rig that overturned a few days ago off the coast of  Morgan City, Louisiana.

Humans are great at coming up with last-minute solutions in times of catastrophe.  Think of Apollo 13, or the space shuttle mission where a window cracked.  But duct-tape doesn’t fix everything, and we need to use our ingenuity better in the design & construction phase of projects like this, as well as in formulating emergency response plans ahead of time.  My big word in environmental training is COMMUNICATIONS.  The History Channel has a great series on its “Modern Marvels” show called “Engineering Disasters,” and anyone who’s involved in developing anything would do well to watch the episodes on YouTube.  Here’s my personal favorite: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddlrGkeOzsI

Sorry, you’ll have to cut and paste it…I’m not that good at posting links yet.  But if that little event doesn’t make your jaw drop, then nothing will.  Entertaining to watch in retrospect, but not much fun for the folks there at the time.  Perhaps we can do better with a little planning?  Texaco didn’t bother to alert the salt mine for an hour and a half, if at all?  That’s why I always stress communications in my training.  Luckily, the salt company had just done a practice emergency evacuation the previous weekend.

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