Originally published in Issue 437 of New Internationalist Magazine.
There are two kinds of cleanup operations in the Gulf of Mexico: the real one and the one that allows us to continue indulging in fossil fuel fantasy. Both are problematic, argues Adam Ma’anit.
In the days after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and unleashing the pent-up hydrocarbon reservoir of Miocene rage it was tapping, the full impacts of the disaster were largely unknown. Nearly a month on, there were still doubts about the degree of devastation that would ultimately ensue. BP CEO at the time, Tony Hayward, infamously asserted in late May that ‘the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to have been very, very modest.’
BP already had an atrocious health and safety record in the US – even by industry standards. The company was still being rapped for continuing violations at its Texas City refinery – the site of a 2005 explosion that killed 15 workers and injured over 100. It was facing record fines over leaks and poor maintenance in Alaska where two major spills in 2006 led to widespread concern about the expansion of oil exploration in the fragile Arctic. In 2006, Senior Group Vice President John Mogford said of Texas City: ‘If we’ve learned one thing from this tragedy, it’s the need for humility.’ How the company has operated since, however, reeks of corporate hubris. Continue Reading →