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Top Kill Fails to Plug the Leak

Posted on May 30, 2010

A still shot from the live video feed of the Deepwater Horizon leak, available here.

More bad news from the recently proclaimed “worst eco-disaster in U.S. history”: BP’s top kill and junk shot techniques have failed to stymie the underwater oil leak, and BP engineers were reportedly concerned about the Gulf rig months before the company initially admitted. —JCL

The Guardian:

BP has failed to stop the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico using so-called top kill and junk shot techniques, prompting an exasperated response from Barack Obama.

After three days of pumping drilling mud over the leak and an attempt to plug the flow by blasting tyres, golf balls and other debris at it, BP admitted defeat last night. In its latest attempt to contain the worst oil spill in US history, it is to launch a four- to seven-day operation that will involve more oil leaking into the Gulf even if it works.

Obama described the setback as “enraging” and “heartbreaking”, as documents emerged showing that BP engineers were concerned about the safety of the Deepwater Horizon rig months earlier than the company has admitted.

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By MeHere, May 30, 2010 at 8:20 pm Link to this comment


Washington state fines BP for safety violations at refinery


The BP Cherry Point refinery has been fined $69,200 for 13 safety violations
that the Washington Department of Labor and Industries has labeled “serious.”
BP Cherry Point, located west of Ferndale, is the largest refinery in Washington,
processing 225,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

About 10 workers from the BP Cherry Point refinery have been sent to
Louisiana to help with efforts to contain the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
By the end of the week, 20 workers will be in the area, said Bill Kidd, director of
external affairs at Cherry Point. About 800 employees work at the Cherry Point

In a press release, Labor and Industries said its inspection focused on the
hydrocracker process unit, which refines low-grade oil into gasoline. Twelve of
the violations involve regulations governing the management of highly
hazardous chemicals. One of the violations involves a failure to provide proper
machine guarding.

The 12 process safety management problems included failure to routinely
inspect or maintain safety control devices, such as pressure safety valves;
inaccurate or outdated instrument diagrams; and failure to record whether
identified safety hazards were corrected. One violation noted that there were
38 instances of safety recommendations for which there was no record they
were ever implemented.

“The safety violations our inspectors uncovered at BP were problems similar to
those we’ve uncovered in all of the refineries we have inspected in
Washington,” Michael Silverstein, assistant director for L&I’s Division of
Occupational Safety and Health, said in a press release. “Petroleum refineries
are inherently risky work environments, and following the safety regulations is
the key to preventing explosions and other life-threatening events.”
BP has 15 days to appeal the latest fines.
Company spokesman Bill Kidd said officials have not had time to review the L&I
citations but said his company wants to work with regulators to maintain and
improve safety.
“We take the responsibility for the safety of our employees and our neighbors
very seriously,” Kidd said. “It’s our top priority. . . . While we’re proud of our
track record, there’s always room for improvement.”

The inspections leading to the fines began in November, months before the
April explosion and fire at the Tesoro refinery in Anacortes that killed seven
workers. The inspections were part of a statewide emphasis on refinery safety
that began in 2007 as a response to a federal initiative. Regulators mounted
that initiative after a number of refinery mishaps, the worst of which was a
2005 explosion at a BP refinery in Texas that killed 15 workers.
After the Texas disaster, BP convened an elite panel to report on safety
practices at all of its refineries. The report generally gave the Cherry Point
refinery high marks for safety precautions.

In 2005, a worker employed by a refinery maintenance firm died after he fell
from a scaffold inside a refining tower at the Cherry Point refinery. Both BP and
the contracting firm were fined for safety violations after that incident.

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By RenZo, May 30, 2010 at 7:16 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Bernoulli’s Principle (or equation, 1738) proves that in a situation of flow dynamics such as this, velocity of the flow is inversely proportional to the pressure of the flow. In other words, this was never going to work. As you attempt to narrow the aperture of the gusher, the velocity increases and the blocking material will be pushed very forcibly out of the neck(aperture).

The only ways to lower the pressure in this second largest oil field on the planet, is to enlarge the cavern in which it lives, or remove the petroleum from another well (years of work).

It don’t look good.

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amunaor's avatar

By amunaor, May 30, 2010 at 5:00 pm Link to this comment

Vacationing oil addicts, BP is only your friendly supplier! Look on the bright side, there’s less chance of drowning when swimming in an ocean of Black Jell-O, no need for expensive life-guards. Fish and other crustaceans, who needs such things? When the theme parks move in they’ll build and mold plastic fish, for your children’s enjoyment, from the locally available black goop.

Peace, Best Wishes and Hope

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By doublestandards/glasshouses, May 30, 2010 at 12:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Any small time drug dealer in this country has all his assets seized by the government when he gets busted.  BP has all but destroyed the Gulf of Mexico for commercial or pleasurable use not to mention the destruction of wild life habitats.  Obama should ask congress to approve a bill calling for the seizure of all assets of any oil company which does what BP has done.

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By rollzone, May 30, 2010 at 11:40 am Link to this comment

hello. welcome to oil baron heaven. if you seal the well with explosives, there will no longer be a gusher. relief wells will then need to physically pump oil guuck up from two miles deep. it would take a pump the size of Houston to do that. if you are able to first drill a relief well, and maintain the pressure from the existing gusher flow, before sealing off this well: petrodollars saved. they can harvest their oil. they are still salivating over the quantities here. an explosion, and collapse of the existing well, probably will equalize the pressure created from the drilling rig tapping-release of gaseous guuck; and a relief well afterwards will not be able to utilize the gusher force- it will have been neutralized. it takes decades of Earth revolutions to mix that kind of pressure in a reserve of underground oil. so every possible solution, will not stop the flow of the gusher: until the relief wells have been drilled and brought on line. oil baron heaven has you believing they can not possibly close this well with an explosion: tether a guide-line, drop a bomb-nothing. since day 4 we have been assured they will be able to recoup their investment dollars, and everyone at BP will be happy: and capping the well is harebrained lunacy. trust them. my suggestion today is take every member of the BP organization out to the site, and give them a tube of glue, and toss them off the boat; and return tomorrow to see if any of them have been successful. this is a high crime. cleaning up their damage is impossible. holding them responsible should mean redistributing their company Beyond Petroleum. i mean that in a good way. seize all their assets, and lube every division for complete dismantling; and convert whatever applicable infrastructure to hydrogen energy generation. have these crooks finance their own demise. anyone willing to donate a blood transfusion for the oil sludging through their veins: is a far better person than i. i would rather hang them on a nail and let them drip dry, until it is time to toss them on the fire. i am not frustrated here, i am running low on oil and over heating. next buy i will not depend upon oil. this calamity is farcical from so many levels that with more oil gushing and creating huge Gulf kill zones, and washing up on shores every moment that goes by- a man made catastrophe for petrodollars- is completely unforgivable: occurring only because they would not stop the leak when they discovered the manual closing of the valves would not work. this has been a shameful disregard for ecological habitation and American environments. first they tax our tea, and now this.

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By grumpynyker, May 30, 2010 at 9:10 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

News Flash; IT WASN’T INTENDED TO.  Listening to
overnight radio; heard suggestions from callers that
the disaster in the Gulf is intended to make the region
unlivable for anything save exploiting oil deposits
under the sea.  That’s why BP is destroying the water
(and the inhabitants within), the careers of men/women
harvesting seafood from same waters, people who cater
to tourists,plant and animal life.  Tell the truth for

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