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Deepwater Horizon: America’s Chernobyl Moment

by Don Hynes

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“He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would suffice.” - Albert Einstein

The working title for this Vantage Point has been stuck in my mind since first news of the explosion and sinking of Deepwater Horizon. I was away from the computer which was a good thing because I could develop my own images with bare bones news from a Blackberry. I wouldn’t talk about what I thought to my children or grandchildren. It was and is just too damn scary.

Anyone who studies politics and culture knows the BP corporate bosses are lying through their teeth and will continue to cover up their irresponsibility with every deception possible. The mainstream news coverage will support the corporate script while Federal agencies duck and cover. Government leaders will tough talk without removing the controlling corporate hands from their open pockets.

This leaves the rest of us just where as a 2’ diameter pipe driven by a minimum of 20K psi pushes crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico and eventually the oceans of the world at the rate of 56-84,00o Barrels Per Day? This is the rate of disaster if the well doesn’t completely blow which all the smart boys in Houston know is exactly what will happen if they can’t contain the well head. About that possibility one oilman said in true southern style “Katy bar the door” - not sure who that Katy is but it doesn’t sound good.

The nuclear reactor explosion at Chernobyl cost the lives of thousands of heroic people who went into the blast zone to their certain or slow death, encasing the failed reactor in cement before the core melted. Chernobyl had every mark of an end game for life as we know it on Earth and there was some sense of the horrific potential at work, but thank God and the courage of those who sacrificed themselves, what might have been was averted because the event could be bounded. The Soviet government lied to everyone throughout the meltdown and their ineffective “cleanup” endangered then and sickens now tens of thousands. However, if the core reactor had melted through into the Earth there was no boundary possible.

What are the boundaries for Deepwater Horizon? An unchecked well 5ooo foot below the surface of the ocean in a reservoir four to five miles below the bottom of the sea at enormous geophysical pressure; what boundaries can be established on this catastrophe?

I can’t stomach rooting for the bad guys, and for the soft soaping “this is all our problem” nonsense this was not just the result of our driving cars or refrigerating cheese. The abuse is connected to all of us who live and breathe in this wondrous modern world but the catastrophe of Deepwater Horizon is the direct result of enormous and insatiable greed on the part of a very small number of people for whom enough is an unknown quantity and sufficient an irrelevant term. Nonetheless, if the smart guys can manufacture a goof shot, mud sling, diversionary well, whatever outrageous solution, here’s hoping they succeed.

One question remains on the great white hope of a diversionary well. Deepwater Horizon failed because of decisions made by BP that not only put their precious corporate lifestyle at risk but a vital habitat for the world. There’s no possible excuse for that, but more importantly, their technology failed. No matter how confident the next “expert” appears or what bogus certainty BP musters, they overran the limits of their knowledge and ability beyond all reasonable boundaries and crashed... utterly. Why are they being permitted to drill another well in the same place with a higher degree of difficulty? Is this not madness or am I just too dull to appreciate the wonder of such expertise?

Did anyone recall Chernobyl when President Obama began advocating nuclear power as a safe technology in his Administration’s response to the energy crisis? When will we understand there must be enforced limits to hubris when it comes to human endeavor? No one has the right to risk the life of this precious planet for the sake of personal gain, abysmal ethics or a simple lack of humility. When our collective demand depletes and destroys an Earth meant for generations to come then in fact there is no vision and as it was written centuries ago, without vision the people perish.