Engineering Catastrophe

I don’t know – you pick whether it’s a noun or verb. The effects are horrible either way:

Tar-MatMillions of gallons of oil flooded the Gulf of Mexico every day — for 87 days. The biggest accidental oil spill ever. Five years later the effects of the Deepwater Horizon blowout still endure

A new study confirms a massive undersea oil mat near the unlucky oil well — Macondo 252 — that blew on April 20th, 2010. Considering this tar mat is the size of Rhode Island, the Gulf is clearly still feeling the af

fects of the catastrophe five years on. Gulf sea turtles stranding more frequently, dolphins killed, observed oil slicks hundreds of kilometers in length after the well was “capped” — a depressing list of unknown length.

Will it ever be possible to safely drill oil wells 35,000 feet into the seafloor through 4,000 feet of water from a unanchored floating 32,000 ton oil rig? You’ve got to hand it to the oil companies, the engineering is ambitious. But given the demonstrated risks to our greater resources, will it ever make sense?

Rhode Island. A tar mat the size of Rhode Island. Should there be drilling of more wells, as described above? Is further evidence needed? If you were attempt, for whatever reasons, to remain unemotional about this and look only at the evidence and reach a decision – including evidence of how you arrived at work this morning – what would the decision be? Asking for a friend.