Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico

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In the wake of one of the worst oil spills since the Exxon-Valdez disaster, a massive inquiry into the underlying cause of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy has begun. Many people are wondering if this was a case of poor engineering, corporate greed, negligence, or even simple operator failure. Regardless of the cause, the crude oil is beginning to reach the United States coastline, and a guaranteed fix for the leak is nowhere in sight. In today's technologically advanced world, when a disaster like this occurs it is the responsibility of those involved to do what is ethically right, and to immediately take action with all available resources without "pointing fingers".

The Yale University sociologist Charles Perrow believes that some accidents are "normal accidents - accidents which are built into the system." He argues that modern technologies are so complex, that they "can never be made accident free, because safety devices and other components interact in ways too varied for designers and operators to predict" (Miller, 1999). Perrow concludes that by making technology safer, we are inherently more comfortable with it, and ignore the unpredictable failures that are built into the system. This leads to the belief that certain disasters, like the Deepwater Horizon incident, cannot happen, leaving us unprepared for safety system failures.

As a global company, British Petroleum is responsible for any and all consequences of their presence in the gulf waters. While it is still too early to determine the cause of the failure, one can only wonder why the rig is still leaking at an estimated rate of 5,000 barrels per day, when BP promised that they could handle a 250,000 barrel per day spill in order to be allowed to drill in t...

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Miller, D. W. (1999, October). Sociology, Not Engineering, May Explain Our Vulnerability to Technological Disaster. The Chronicle of Higher Education .

Snow, N. (2010, May 13). US House panel's hearing on gulf oil spill focused on BOP. Retrieved May 13, 2010, from OIL & GAS Journal:
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