Thursday, April 29, 2010

Bad month for the energy industry

Between the coal mine explosion in West VA and the oil rig fire and explosion in the Gulf, the TV newsies had had non stop disaster coverage. Unfortunately the press coverage has skipped over the little matter of what went wrong, and pressed on to the usual "isn't this terrible" voice over on video of the disaster scenes.
So far the newsies have not discovered any real evidence of wrong doing at the coal mine. No public disclosure of failure to make required inspections, install the required safety gear, or ignoring alarms. Not that any of this might not have happened, it just that the TV news hasn't reported it.
The oil rig disaster happened under charter to BP, an accident prone operation. BP is so Beyond Petroleum that they let the Alaska pipeline rust out and spring a leak, allowed a major explosion and fire at a Texas refinery, and now it looks like they bear some responsibility for a blowout as bad as Santa Barbara. Santa Barabara happened back in the 1960's and was so bad that California has banned off shore drilling ever since.
For those that remember Santa Barbara, may remember a lot of talk about "blowout preventers", and lack of same on the Santa Barbara well. According to TV news, the gulf well has a 450 ton blowout preventer installed on the sea floor. It isn't working, the oil is pouring out of the damaged well. There has been no coverage of why, of how blowout preventers work, of the possibility of shutting off the oil flow by remote control from the surface or by submarine. This reflects the basic ignorance of newsies. They don't know nothing.

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