They had a plan, but that’s all they had…
by John Allison III, editor
Oh the bloated bureaucracy better known as the federal government never ceases to amaze us with its ability to disappoint.
The myriad of federal agencies spend thousands of billions (that’s TRILLIONS) of our tax dollars to generate plans for how best to step in and respond when disaster strikes, how best to protect us from the evils of big business and our wicked wealthy brethren. Uncle Sam confiscates our hard earned money while he’s telling us how his handling it will somehow make our lives better, make us feel safer, more protected.
Good ole Uncle Sam promises to be there when the chips are down. When disaster strikes, Uncle Sam has a plan for how to deal with it.
Like the plan the US Government had for dealing with a disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Developed in 1994 and signed off on by US Coast Guard Captain J. W. Calhoun, it appears the “In Situ” Burn plan was designed for spills such as resulted from the Deepwater Horizon rig catastrophe.
If it is impractical or unsafe to contain an accidental or deliberate burn of spilled oil, it may still be possible to eliminate a major portion of the spill at or very close to the spill source. Sudden “batch” releases of oil (e.g., tanker accidents) or ongoing high-volume flow rates (e.g., oil well blowouts or pipeline ruptures) may result in the temporary accumulation of relatively thick oil layers. Particularly when winds and currents are low and/or when oil can be burned in the lee of a large object (e.g., vessel, island, etc.), it may be possible to sustain effective combustion.
The plan involves the towing of a special, patented fire retardant boom by two vessels that gather the oil to be burned. Once gathered and, if necessary, towed to a safe location away from the spill source or other hazards, the oil inside the boom is ignited and permitted to burn.
According to the plan, this method could potentially remove the 5000 barrels of oil spewing from the damaged well, and more…
It is evident that a 500-footlong fire boom (with backup replacement sections as needed) could be used in a U configuration to intercept oil and eliminate it at approximately 400 to 500 gallons/minute or about 15,000 barrels/day.
By now, you must be wondering why this plan hasn’t already been implemented. Why aren’t we seeing billowing black clouds of smoke pour into the sky to save the coastal environment in the Gulf? The plan is right there, in black and white, all laid out 16 years ago. Why the inaction in response to what promises to become an environmental disaster of epic proportion?
Simple really. It’s the government silly.
That’s right. The same government that spent who-knows-how-much to come up with this plan has failed to implement it because…are you ready for this…
The US government didn’t have the necessary equipment in the Gulf when the accident occurred. It didn’t have 10 fire booms, not 5 fire booms, not even one fire boom that might have harnessed the destruction about to be visited on the shores of our southern states.
The plan has been in place for 16 years and the geniuses in our government tasked with enacting it had to contact the company in Illinois that makes the booms to purchase one. (“Uh…could you overnight that please?”)
Fortunately, Elastec/American Marine had one boom in stock and shipped it when the government bureaucrats called. (Thank God for capitalism and private companies! If the government was in charge of manufacturing the booms, it likely would have just now been firing up the assembly line.) But this isn’t something the UPS driver can deliver. It’s 500 feet long and it will take a few days to deliver and put into use.
Jeff Bohleber, Elastec’s chief financial officer says, “If they had six or seven of these systems in place when this happened and got out there and started burning, it would have significantly lessened the amount of oil that got loose.”
Since Elastec can’t just throw one of these booms together in a day, the mighty US has now been reduced to asking the company’s foreign customers if we can borrow booms they purchased to be prepared for events like this in their own country. Bohleber says there are six more being shipped in. “Hopefully, they will be here by Wednesday to be available for use on Thursday. Bear in mind, two days ago, we thought they would be here today,” he said.
The US government had a plan, it was just too incompetent to put the equipment in place to implement it.
Tags: Deepwater Horizon, Environment, In Situ, EPA, Elastec/American Marine, Elastec, Oil Spill, Oil Slick, BP, Transocean
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Hat Tip: America, You Asked For It!