[CT Birds] A bit OT but RE: Solution?? too late

David F Provencher david.f.provencher at dom.com
Thu Apr 29 19:30:20 EDT 2010


John,

At the risk of this being a tad Off Topic, let me say in response to your admirable concern: Questioning why something bad happened is always the right thing to do. However it is important to remember that nothing is fool proof. Regrettably, the safety design you mention is not fool proof either and most likely more than one valve was in place somewhere along that line. However the failure can always occur before the first valve in a line. As soon as a path was drilled from the seabed to the oil pocket itself there was no longer a 100 percent foolproof way to avoid a spill. So even if you have three valves in line for redundancy the break can occur before the first one in line, rendering the next two useless (and my training IS in engineering/chemistry). Undoubtedly new regulations and design requirements will be visited as a result of this human and environmental tragedy, and improvements will happen. However the risk will never be driven to zero and accidents will all too regrettably happen in the future.

What we can do is to take this opportunity to remind our elected representatives how much we are distressed by this event and how strongly we feel the need for them to act to require better safety engineering on rigs in US waters and for greater penalties for companies who are responsible for the failed equipment that lead to spills into US waters. Better engineering does mean higher energy costs but the increase is decidedly less than the financial and environmental costs we pay for accidents such as this one. That fact is often obscured by those who put unreasonable profit expectations ahead of safety. So call/email your members of Congress and let them know how you feel about this mess and that you expect them to act to reduce the chances that this catastrophe will be repeated.

Dave

 

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