Spill, baby, spill
The oil drilling platform that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico did not have a device installed that could have prevented this massive natural disaster. The device, known as an acoustic switch, can be triggered by sound waves sent from a boat on the ocean surface.
This means that the oil rig can blow up and lose power and the switch can still be thrown — exactly what needed to happen in this case. Norway and Brazil require these switches to be installed in oil rigs in their offshore wells.
U.S. regulators bowed to pressure from oil companies and made this type of switch voluntary. The reason? “They cost too much.” The switch is pricey at $500,000, but the drilling platform that went down in flames, along with 11 members of the crew, was valued at $250 million. Total cost of this disaster has been estimated at $3 billion or more.
Then, there is the incalculable cost to the lives of the people in the Gulf. Fishing and shrimping, bird and other wildlife, tidal estuaries where fish and shrimp spawn, beach vacation areas are all severely impacted.
I’m not saying that offshore drilling should be stopped altogether, but it is time to require the oil companies to install every safety device and use every method available to prevent this from happening again, regardless of the cost.
Maybe the people on the controlling boards need to be made up of regular citizens, and not former industry employees.