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Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Commission finds everyone to blame
- Categorized in: Environment
Oil Spill Commission finds everyone to blame in their findings on Deepwater Horizon:
While the commission found the blame to sit with BP and its contractors Halliburton and Transocean, it also found that government oversight was badly compromised. The agency in charge of promoting the expansion of drilling was also in charge of keeping it safe. Its officials did not have the necessary experience or training for dealing with the ever deeper and more technologically challenging installations they had to oversee. And it had a budget that did not come close to keeping up with the expansion of what it was meant to be doing. Nor had there been adequate planning by companies or by government for what to do in the case of such a gigantic spill.
Every one of these findings could be applied to the nuclear industry and it's regulators.
There are many lessons to be learned from Deepwater Horizon, but the findings above highlight what may be most important in terms of the consequences of allowing powerful corporations and industries a major role in their own regulation.
Not to diminish the horror of what happened, it is a good time to think about what the consequences would have been had this been a nuclear accident. The oil industry, like the nuclear industry, claimed its technologies and equipment were safe. They said accidents like this couldn't happen. That safety measures had been taken, requirements had been met. But it did happen. Corners were cut, systems failed. There was human error. The consequences of this were terrible. The consequences of an equivalent nuclear accident would be unimaginable.
The Institute of Nuclear Power Operations may have been created after Three Mile Island to play this role, but the nuclear industry again has a stranglehold over their own regulation, and the government's energy agenda. They too need to be held to a "safety strategy." They too need to prove, not that emergency plans exist but that they can be implemented. They need to be held responsible for the waste they create and the damage it has done and will be capable of doing forever. If the Commission's recommendations were applied to the nuclear industry, the industry would not be able to meet them. This should make us very frightened.
It's time to move away from our dependence on fossil fuels and nuclear, towards an energy future of true renewables, that will be well regulated, safe, and sustainable.
The Economist l NEWSBOOK Jan 11th 2011
Cleaning up a mess
HAVING last week released its findings on how the Deepwater Horizon was lost, on January 11th America’s national Oil Spill Commission released its findings on what happened afterwards—and on how to make sure it doesn’t happen again. As the commission points out, the damage done fell short of some of the worst expectations and conjectures, with much of the oil kept out at sea by winds and currents. But in terms of economic loss, health impacts and social, as well as environmental, damage it was still a disaster for a set of states that have had more than their fair share of such things.