I keep asking myself, can the Deepwater Horizon disaster get any worse? Well, yes, it can. Today is an example of how much worse. The cap apparently had to be removed for repair work.
The Deepwater Horizon well became an uncapped geyser once again Wednesday, the hydrocarbons surging freely into the deep sea after engineers were forced to remove the dome that had been capturing significant quantities of oil.
The struggle with the cap provided another reminder, if any was needed, that engineers are trying to control the blown-out well with novel tactics and jury-rigged hardware. Nothing has come easily, and the incremental progress has been vulnerable to swift reversal.
Just when you think, just maybe, just maybe, this crisis could move towards some resolution, WHAM, mother nature tells us “its not nice to fool with mother nature” !
The base-line measures of the crisis have steadily worsened. The estimated flow rate keeps rising. The well is like something deranged, stronger than anyone anticipated. BP executives last month said they had a 60 to 70 percent chance of killing it with mud, but the well spit the mud out and kept blowing.
The net effect is that nothing about this well seems crazy anymore. Week by week, the truth of this disaster has drifted toward the stamping ground of the alarmists.
After the Deepwater Horizon rig sank, BP recalculated that estimate based on what was known about the well. BP executives in early May briefed members of Congress on their conclusion: that the absolute worst-case flow rate was 60,000 barrels, with a “more reasonable worst-case scenario” of 40,000 barrels a day, the document states.
Today the official government estimate of the flow, based on multiple techniques that include subsea video and satellite surveys of the oil sick on the surface, is 35,000 to 60,000 barrels a day.
In effect, what BP considered the worst-case scenario in early May is in late June the bitter reality — call it the new normal — of the gulf blowout.
My sense is that this disaster is so overwheming, we simply cannot comprehend its long term consequences, to the gulf states, to this country, to the world.