Oil Spill Update: Epic Disasters Continues

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Even beyond the President’s speech, the last few days have seen quite a bit of news about the oil spill. A brief recap:

The AP is reporting that

Scientists provided a new estimate for the amount of oil gushing from the ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday that indicates it could be leaking up to 2.52 million gallons of crude a day. A government panel of scientists said that the ruptured well is leaking between 1.47 million and 2.52 million gallons of oil daily. The figures move the government’s worst-case estimates more in line with what an independent team had previously thought was the maximum size of the spill.

Oil execitives broke ranks at a hearing yesterday reports the Times:

The chairmen of four of the world’s largest oil companies broke their nearly two-month silence on the major spill in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday and publicly blamed BP for mishandling the well that caused the disaster. Seeking to insulate their companies from the continuing crisis in the gulf and the political backlash in Washington, the leaders of Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Shell and ConocoPhillips insisted at a Congressional hearing that they would not have made the mistakes that led to the well explosion and the deaths of 11 rig workers on April 20

The WaPo reports on lawmakers attacks on oil company spill plans:

Five oil giants. Five plans for coping with an oil spill, all written by the same tiny Texas subcontractor.

The government-mandated plans all came under attack at a congressional hearing Tuesday: Three of them listed the phone number for the same University of Miami marine science expert, Peter Lutz, who died in 2005. Four talked about the need to protect walruses, which, as Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) dryly noted, “have not called the Gulf of Mexico home for 3 million years.” The plans also mentioned protecting sea lions and seals, which aren’t found in the gulf, either.

The five oil companies submitted these plans — each more than 500 pages long and each relying on the same reassuring language — as part of their applications for permits to drill deepwater wells in the gulf. The firms assured the government that they could handle oil spills much larger than the one now threatening the region’s environment and economy. And each time, the Minerals Management Service approved the plan and gave the go-ahead for drilling.

And the New York Times yesterday said that efforts to repel Gulf oil spill are chaotic:

From the beginning, the effort has been bedeviled by a lack of preparation, organization, urgency and clear lines of authority among federal, state and local officials, as well as BP. As a result, officials and experts say, the damage to the coastline and wildlife has been worse than it might have been if the response had been faster and orchestrated more effectively.