As we entered into the seventh week of the largest man-made oil spill catastrophe in the United States, the nation’s effort to reach solutions matches the glacial pace of British Petroleum attempts to contain the oil. Investigations into the accident, however, were quick to form, but as the investigations began to shed light on the details of the events, the real causes and decisions of those in charge or whom to shoulder blames became more elusive.
While the oil continues to explode out of the well a mile down in the Gulf Of Mexico, the US government has already accepted the worst and will have to settle for letting it flow. Both the US and BP claims that they are doing everything that is possible, critics are not convinced. Thousands of suggestions and solutions to stem the flow or clean up the spill are being sent to BP from around the world go unheeded.
BP is in control since the beginning. Over the course of this event, it has relinquished some but not all of its hold on the handling of its information. Live feeds from remote operating vehicle on the bottom were initially restricted which let to an uproar from the American public demanding more transparency. While BP has obliged under pressure and allows the public view its live spill cams, it also bought up Google’s search engine keywords to redirect word search such as “oil spill” to its site to attempt to control the negative press it is receiving. BP remains in control and no where is more evident in its attempt to block reporters and photographers access to areas it deemed too negative for its already damaged image. The US has been slow to react and mobilize as its scramble to understand the true scope of the disaster. Weeks after the spill, the US still lacks scientific data to determine how much oil were spilling, it relied on information supplied by BP. Initial gallons spilled numbers from BP was only 1000 barrels a day their motivation was to keep the number low to avoid fines based on amount spilled. The amount of oil is still undetermined. A government -appointed team Flow Rate Technical Group estimates 12,000 to 19,000 barrels a day. US government recognized that it lacks technology and know how in the field of oil extraction therefore had no choice but to relied on BP’s expertise. The US took on a role of overseer, but BP is still in command of information it chooses to disclose. BP is footing the bill for the damage so far, it claims over $1 billion in the effort. It is responsible for the clean up, so it also has control of where it wants to disburse its assets.
The US is faced with a unique situation where a man made disaster is unfolding and increasing out of proportion yet it has little control on how to stop it. Americans want the spill to stop immediately, but its government’s goal is ambiguous: it has continued to allow BP to decide the course of action, which at this point and has always being containment, meaning to collect the oil.
Admiral Thad Allen admitted that the oil spill is holding America hostage. Deepwater Horizon well is only one out of 4000 other wells in the Gulf Of Mexico out of control at this time. Resources such as containment booms are in short supply. USCG made request for more equipment from as far as Alaska. Whether it is the oil spill or BP in control, it is obvious that the US is very inadequate to deal with an unconventional threat such as an man made environmental catastrophe. How to distinguish between deaths and destruction to its economy caused by a corporation like BP from a combatant enemy will be critical in its policy making. 9/11’s weapons of mass destruction were airplanes, now, jets of black oil flow 24/7 will also cause far reaching destruction. The nation stands confused, vulnerable,and scratching its heads because its defense system is not configured to deal with a massive oil spill. It has yet to define a new rule of engagement. The future is now, the game has changed, its national security is directly tied into its citizen’s habits and way of life, so it must learn how to mobilize to protect itself from these new threats.
We can hope that lessons learn from this oil spill will help the government to prepare a new play book and tailor our national defense weaponry and equipment to include ways to cap a well at 5000 feet below the ocean.