Like a lazy adolescent with senioritis, BP had been intimating that they might not need to finish up drilling the relief well that would permanently stop the Macondo well in the Gulf, arguing that the heavy drilling mud, cement and other containment strategies are holding. Admiral Thad Allen gave that idea the big no-go today.
Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the government’s point man for the spill response, said crews must move forward drilling the relief well even though officials were still evaluating the best way to finish it.
“The relief well will be finished,” he said. “We will kill the well.”
BP had thought the mud and cement pumped in from above the leak may have essentially killed the well. But the relief well will allow engineers to pump in mud and cement from below, which is intended to permanently seal the well.
Isn’t this a confirmation of BP’s management style? Finishing the relief well would cost a bit more, so safety and certainty would be sacrificed for profit. Allen shut down this option, but you never know. The EPA has been telling BP for weeks to stop using dispersants, and in general the company ignored them.
This inattention to safety measures is why BP will pay a $50 million dollar fine for continued safety violations at their Texas City refinery, even after the explosion that killed 15 workers in 2005. They also “vowed” to spend $500 million to improve safety at the refinery, which I guess is much like their vow to complete the relief well.
In agreeing to pay the $50.6 million fine, BP has the dubious distinction of topping the previous record OSHA fine of $21 million that it paid after the 2005 explosion in Texas City.
“The size of the penalty rightly reflects BP’s disregard for workplace safety,” said the secretary of labor, Hilda L. Solis, during a news conference announcing the agreement.
“However, more importantly, we hope it sends a message to all employers that we will enforce the law so that workers can return home safe at the end of their day.”
Whether at the Texas City refinery or the Deepwater Horizon rig, BP clearly values speed over the environment and human lives. The government at least is turning their attention to this reality. They can go further by banning BP or any company that fails multiple safety examinations from drilling on American soil and gambling with American security.