An excellent and gripping account of the BP Oil Disaster.
A small armada of oil skimmers and service boats are puttering about the Gulf of Mexico, attending to what is, officially, a minor ecological untidiness. The wounded Macondo well supposedly is trickling a mere thousand barrels of crude into the sea every day.
That is a ridiculous number, and an obviously ridiculous one, albeit less ridiculous than the one announced four days ago, which was zero. “The blowout preventer,” Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry announced at a press briefing on Friday, April 23, “appears to be working.”
It is important to note that Admiral Landry was not obfuscating. Rather, sheâ€”indeed, everyoneâ€”was relying on BP for information. The BOP is under a mile of water, in a dark and murky place that can be seen only by remotely controlled submersibles, which the Coast Guard neither owns nor operates. Visibility is so poor and the water so deep, in fact, that it required two days of searching to locate the capsized wreckage of the Horizon, which had burned for thirty-six hours before toppling into the waves.
Given the undeniable silliness of its initial estimate, BP soon quintuples it to 5,000 barrels a day, another egregious lowball that for weeks will be repeated religiously by reporters, a fragment of boilerplateâ€”210,000 gallons a dayâ€”in daily news reports.