Tuesday, May 11, 2010

30% Of Americans Are Unsure If Or Believe Environmentalists Blew Up the Deepwater Horizon Drilling Rig

Ten percent of Americans believe environmentalists intentionally sabotaged the oil rig Deepwater Horizon off the Gulf Coast according to a poll released Tuesday by Public Policy Polling. I'm still hearing some of my conservative friends say liberal environmentalists plotted with Obama's government to blow up the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico to advance their radical environmentalist anti-drilling political agenda!

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh floated the idea on his nationally syndicated talk show. "Think Progress reported on Limbaugh's conspiracy that is intended to shift blame from Big Oil to liberals in general and Obama in particular:
As the scale of the disaster caused by the explosion at an oil rig off the coast of Louisiana became more apparent last week, right-wing radio talker Rush Limbaugh unleashed a conspiracy theory suggesting that someone intentionally blew up the rig in order to “head off more oil drilling” ... "So, since they’re sending SWAT teams down there, folks, since they’re sending SWAT teams to inspect the other rigs, what better way to head off more oil drilling, nuclear plants, than by blowing up a rig? I’m just noting the timing here," said Rush Limbaugh on his radio program
Picking up on Limbaugh’s and oil spill truther's liberal conspiracy theory on fringe websites the Fox News conservative megaphone is also pushing the conspiracy theory that hardcore liberal environmentalist plotted with Obama's government to blow up the rig to advance their environmentalist anti-drilling political agenda. On Fox and Friends, former Bush Press Secretary Dana Perino said she was “not trying to introduce a conspiracy theory, but was this deliberate,” wondered Perino.
Public Policy Polling director Tom Jensen noted that if "undecideds" are included in the polling results, the number of Americans who are unsure about or believe the environmental sabotage theory rises to more than thirty percent." Just 9% of voters say they think environmentalists caused the spill while 22% are unsure and 69% don't believe they had anything to do with it," Jensen writes.

What really caused the blowout? An account given by two workers on the drilling rig and corroborated to some extent by Transocean, owner of the Deepwater drilling platform claims that BP, owner of the well, made key decisions to cut costs by short cutting proper procedures.

The final short cut was to reverse the order of cementing steps used to seal the well. After, cementing the casing, filling in the area between the pipe and the walls of the well, it is standard procedure to pour wet cement down the inside of the drill pipe, which then sinks thousands of feet down through the drilling mud before the cement hardens into a plug. Then the standard procedure is to wait for the cement plug to harden for a period of six hours before the drilling mud is removed. The account given by the two rig workers says that the drilling mud was removed before the cement was poured down the riser pipe.
Weighted drilling mud fills the pipe to hold back the oil and gas formation pressure while the well is being drilled. Properly weighted drilling mud prevents a blowout during drilling. As the heavy drilling mud was displaced by lighter sea water, without the cement plug in place, the reduced pressure inside the well riser pipe allowed the formation pressure to blowout of the pipe.
According to account, BP asked for and receive permission from the federal Minerals Management Service to displace the mud before the final plugging operation had begun. [WSJ Online]

Why didn't the blowout preventer work after the blowout occured?The blowout preventer had a dead battery in its control pod, leaks in its hydraulic system that provides emergency power to the "variable bore ram" device that was supposed to cut and seal the pipe to stop the flow of oil, a ram cutting tool that wasn’t strong enough to shear through pipe joints that made up 10 percent of the drill pipe, all of which really made no difference because the blowout preventer had been modified so that one of its "variable bore ram" drivers could be used for routine testing and was no longer designed to activate in an emergency. That’s the story told in the WashPost coverage on the devastating opening statement in a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Rep. Henry Waxman says that his House Committee's investigation into the Gulf oil spill reveals that the blowout preventer had a leak in a crucial hydraulic system before the blowout. Without hydraulic pressure the blowout preventer's "variable bore ram," intended to close tight around the pipe and seal it, can not activate. And at a hearing in Louisiana on Tuesday, the government engineer who gave oil giant BP the final approval to drill admitted that he never asked for proof that the blowout preventer worked. [Huffington Post]

In the days after the blowout BP engineers tried to activate the blowout preventer, but failed because the device had been greatly modified and the diagrams BP got from the equipment's owner didn't match the device's new configuration, congressional investigators said Wednesday. BP engineers wasted many hours before figuring this out. Who ordered the alterations in the blowout preventer? Transocean, the owner of the blowout preventer and of the sunken Deepwater Horizon rig, said any alterations would have come at BP's instigation; BP, which owns the well and hired Transocean to drill it, said it had never sought the changes.

Testimony given before the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, said alterations to the blowout preventer prevented the massive "variable bore ram" from activating. This ram is intended to cut the pipe and seal it. The alteration had connected a useless test ram - not the variable bore ram - to the socket that was supposed to activate the variable bore ram. [Kansas City Star, a McClatchy Newspaper]

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