Must see: Frontline’s “The Spill”

A new hour-long documentary produced by PBS and ProPublica really pissed me off. It’s called The Spill, and it documents the habitual misdemeanors of BP since their rise from a small oil refinery in the 80s to the fourth largest company in the world.

The standout revelations for me:

  • March, 2005: An explosion in a Texas refinery killed 15 workers; 170 were injured. The refinery was part of an acquisition of Amoco, and both companies were aware of the antiquated blowdown drums yet decided to “bank” the $150,000 instead of fixing it.
  • Another incident in 2002 involved a worker who was seriously injured after an oil well he was inspecting blew up. He settled with BP for an undisclosed sum and agreed to never talk to the media about it for the rest of his life.
  • In July 2005, Hurricane Dennis swirled over the Gulf of Mexico; in its path was Thunder Horse, BP’s showcase platform, which towered 43 stories above the water… ProPublica reporter Abrahm Lustgarten explains: ‘It turns out that BP engineers had incorrectly installed a number of valves that are meant to control the flow of water in the supports that keep the rig afloat. And the rig, as a result, took on water instead of shedding it.'”


For more, check out the PBS documentary and ProPublica’s report.

Oily Digits

A bit of numerical perspective, via {npr}:

–at least 1,843,786 gallons of dispersants were used to break up the oil.

–1,499 birds have been found dead with oil on them.

–1,699 visibly oiled birds were collected alive.

–At least 594 birds have been rehabilitated and released.

–2,168 baby sea turtles have been relocated from their nests on beaches in the path of the oil spill and released into the Atlantic Ocean.

–Over 600  miles along the Gulf coastline have been impacted by the oil.

And last but not least:

–4.9 million barrels of oil spewed from the BP well before it was capped last month.

Oil Fatigue

I exhaled a tiny sigh of relief when BP finally began to collect a small amount of oil from the spewing well. Even if it was a fraction of the total daily flow, it seemed like we were on the right track. Time to move on.


Of course, the Deepwater Horizon rig continues to spew thousands of gallons of raw crude into the Gulf every day. But O.K., we get it.  Countless birds, turtles, and dolphins need to be cleaned and will likely die.  BP will spend billions of dollars to clean up their mess and to payoff the people whose livelihoods they have destroyed.  Aren’t we just repeating the same story again and again? Aren’t we just waiting for the details to be worked out? Isn’t it time to move on?


I’d argue that this attitude that we all share, if we are honest with ourselves, is a result of the public not seeing enough photographs of the effects of this thing and BP’s constant cover-up; the World Cup; a lack of understanding; weak rhetoric from our government and a refusal to embrace this catastrophe as an impetus for a clean energy revolution; and that we’re scared $#&@-less and no one knows how to stop it.


Related links:

A Tragic Recipe

From the New Yorker comes the “BP I Hate to Clean Up” Cookbook.

Blackened Prawns

This is such a favorite with the guys on the rigs that the running joke is that our company was named after the dish! Believe me, you won’t have leftovers (but, if you do, they’ll last and last).

–Prawns. If prawns are extinct, use chicken drumettes.

–Enough finely chopped garlic to overcome aroma.


1. Coat prawns with garlic. If necessary, use glue gun.

2. Broil. Watch for flareups.

Tip from Chef Tony: Cooking is like playing jazz—there’s no such thing as a mistake.