Gusher in the Gulf
The name “Valdez” made people think of the worst oil spill ever. No more. Now that dubious honor goes to Deep Water Horizon, an offshore drilling platform operated in the Gulf of Mexico.
On April 20, 2010, the rig exploded, killing 11 workers and opening a gusher that released millions of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf waters. What happened and why?
Floating on the Gulf waters, the Deep Water Horizon platform sent its drilling equipment 5,000 feet below the surface to reach the sea floor. Beyond that depth, it drilled down another 18,000 feet into the earth to reach the oil reserve. It’s an amazing feat of technology, one that has been compared to working on the surface of the moon.
On the sea floor, 5,000 feet below the water’s surface, sat the blowout preventer. It’s a failsafe device. Its purpose is to close off the well in an emergency. But the fail safe device failed.
A dead battery kept the blowout preventer from signaling the rising pressure. Worse, a leak in the hydraulic system stopped the valves from closing off the well and the main valve. The shear ram was not strong enough to crush the well pipe and stop the oil flow.
Barrel after barrel of oil fouled the Gulf waters while technicians struggled to find a solution. It’s a lesson for everyone about following procedures, staying aware, never cutting corners and protecting our precious environment.
That’s why on the job it’s vital for each of us to:
*Recycle. It saves money, reduces waste and lessons the landfill load.
*Properly handle all chemicals and hazardous materials. Even small amounts can be extremely dangerous. Be smart when you’re around them.
*Conserve energy and natural resources. Turn off lights, don’t waste water and look for other ways to conserve. Using resources is okay; abusing them isn’t.
The responsibility is ours. Taking that responsibility seriously and taking appropriate action can save resources and prevent terrible damage.
Thankfully, technicians did find a way to cap the oil flow from the Deep Water Horizon spill. But by then the damage to the Gulf coast and its waters had been done.
This earth is the only one we have and we have to take care of it. Always remember….
Let’s make it a requirement….
Protect The Environment!
*Copyright 2010 Harkins Safety B-270