How BP's Deepwater Horizon Failsage Failed
It's been two months since BP's Deepwater Horizon oil rig started spewing toxicity into the Gulf of Mexico. And we're just now learning how the rig's last line of defense failed to prevent one modern history's biggest ecological disasters.
The video, from the NY Times, outlines how Deepwater Horizon's blowout preventer—and more specifically, the "blind shear ram" designed to shut down the well in event of a blowout—was supposed to work, and why it didn't.
BP workers did try to deploy the blind shear ram by hitting the emergency button, but the system, designed with too few backup measures, did not perform as designed. Today, at least, it's impossible to know exactly why that is, but there's plenty of evidence showing that blowout preventers aren't the foolproof failsafe they're advertised to be.
It's a fascinating read, and part of the NYT's comprehensive overview of all aspects of the oil disaster, from a spill tracker to a detailed timeline of failed fixes. And, of course, an array of live video feeds to remind you how bad it continues to be.
Several critical systems had no back-up at all; if they failed, the entire BOP failed.
Further, this device -- a ram shear arm which basically crushes the pipe closed -- was not backed up by another. Just the one.
Think about it. If you're drilling at that depth, it is costing you a huge sum of money. What is the marginal cost of adding another ram shear arm further down the pipe, or, for that matter, two more?
To save on the costs of an additional device which, what could it cost, $50,000 tops? $100,000? Sure, it costs money to maneuver it into place, too, but can't you take care of three of them if you're taking care of one?
In the huge pile of costs to drill one of these, you can't spare that kind of additional money for safety?