• Twitter
  • Facebook
News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Bad timing

Good call:

It was to be a celebration, but a federal agency in charge of offshore drilling has postponed next week's annual luncheon in Houston, which was to extol the safety record of offshore oil drilling.

A new posting on the website of the U.S. Interior Department's Minerals Management Service, or MMS, noted that the agency is busy and the unfolding tragedy that has cost lives and oil might conflict with the May 3 luncheon.

They might also want to rethink the awards to be given out. One of the winners last year was BP American, operator of the rig that exploded last

Posted in: Current Affairs


Fri, 04/30/2010 - 11:38am

Hey Sarah Palin! How's that drilly-spilly thing workin' out for yah?

tim zank
Fri, 04/30/2010 - 1:43pm

Don't be an ass LJ, planes crash yet we don't stop flying. A disaster like this ought not become a cheerleading device for bashing people with whom you disagree.

Sh$t happens in all industries, it doesn't mean we park all the cars and turn off the furnaces.

Fri, 04/30/2010 - 2:13pm

Drill baby drill!

Fri, 04/30/2010 - 3:58pm

Your concern in noted, Tim.

J. Nelson
Fri, 04/30/2010 - 8:29pm

A plane crash doesn't keep polluting for 20+ years!!!!

Fri, 04/30/2010 - 11:11pm

By the way, Tim, you are simply wrong. Remember the 9-11 attacks? I'm too old to trust my own memory, but I'll trust yours. How many weeks were all domestic air flights canceled?
Once more, I have proved beyond argument that you are mistaken.
We all make mistakes, especially me. I tend to admit mine immediately and withdraw any mistaken assertions. Mistakes are only human. I cheerfully admit my many shortcomings.
But I'm predicting you won't even concede your mistake.
And to think you called me an "ass." Why do these things have to be so personal for you? Do you have a psychiatric problem?
And BTW Leo, do you maintain any sort of ground rules here, such as not permitting offensive name-calling?
Of course, banning Tim would cut off at least a third of your readership, so I don't expect you to the right thing.
You ought to at least get rid of that invitation on your editorial page indicating that everyone is welcome at this blog. Obviously, only people who share your views are welcome.

Bob G.
Sat, 05/01/2010 - 10:14am

Btw...the oil platform DID have a "shut-off" valve that simply failed to operate...and you know who was responsible FOR that valve?

Does the name HALIBURTON ring any bells?
I'm just sayin'...

Sat, 05/01/2010 - 4:03pm

Not only that, but there is a much more effective fail-safe device that is required by every other country that engages in off-shore drilling.
The U.S. exempted the safety device during the semi-secret meeting between Dick Cheney and oil industry executives shortly after Bush's election.
Yet another Haliburton connection.
I realize no one wants to hear the current administration keep blaming the previous one for many of our problems, but someone will eventually start squawking, and since Cheney seems obsessed with his legacy, we can expect to hear some sort of response from him (or his daughter).
Yet another partisan fight looms, as the Gulf Coast gets to wait for the inevitable disaster.
Oh well, we'll always have something to argue about.

tim zank
Sat, 05/01/2010 - 6:22pm

littlejohn Says:

May 1st, 2010 at 12:11 am
By the way, Tim, you are simply wrong.

You may want to avoid posting after midnight, it seems your thought process slides dramitically downhill while your skin grows increasingly thin. I was not incorrect about anything.

FYI, planes were flying the next day after 911. You know how to "google" don't you? When your memory fails again, try that.

Also, I would suggest you wait until the investigation on the oil rig is complete before placing "W" and Cheney in a mini-sub with a huge pipewrench or some other "evil" plot.

I asked you not to be an ass, as I felt it was rather "flip" of you to use this disaster just to take a cheap shot at Palin. It was rather poor timing and glaringly petty.

William Larsen
Sun, 05/02/2010 - 10:38am

When I first heard of this leakage, the first thing I thought about was a simple donut we used in the navy while in port. We pumped the bilge which contained oils, water and other things into a donut, floating ring which has no bottom. The light stuff floats to the top where you pump it out.

What we have is a pipe of certain diameter that is pumping up to 200,000 gallons a day. Placing a 48 inch diameter culvert at the bottom and extending it the 5000 to 6000 feet to surface would channel the oil to the surface. The weight of the culvert would be reduced by the difference in buoyancy of the sea water. Imagine placing life rings around each section of culvert to help support that section. Simple, like a submarine. 200,000 gallons is approximately 46.6 million cubic inches. A 49 inch diameter culvert is 1809 square inches. This creates a velocity of 0.3 inches a second. Clearly this velocity would not be a problem and therefore there is no internal pressure problem on the culvert with sea water at that depth.

Put a big oil tanker with pumps and pump it out. Now the difference between internal (oil) and external (sea water) would have to be looked at, but even then you could strategically place holes in the pipe to draw in sea water to help push the oil up.

However, with all the meds I am on, there may be a problem with this one.

Sun, 05/02/2010 - 9:47pm

Tim, I don't mean to start an argument. I think we can both agree that memory doesn't improve with age.
But I'm pretty sure the only planes in the air after 9-11 were returning Saudi nationals to their home.
If you know otherwise, I would appreciate a reference. Give me a website.
As I've always said, I'm happy to concede when I'm wrong or my memory has failed me. I am often wrong.
I'm quite serious. Please show me (and it is late, at least for me) where commercial aviation was not generally shut down after 9-11.
Of course, I predicted you would not, under any circumstances, admit any sort of error. That's the primary difference between us.
Well, there may be other differences. Do you have a college degree? How did you do on the Merit Scholar exam? How did you do on your ACT/SAT exams? I remember my scores.
How did you do?

tim zank
Mon, 05/03/2010 - 5:55am

littlejohn, in r/e 911 it wasn't weeks, it was a couple of days.

"On September 12, the FAA slowly began to lift the ground stop."

"In general, though, the stop remained in effect until the FAA could come up with a new set of safety rules and regulations. The rules, which Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta announced at 2 a.m. on September 13."

I stand by my original statement "Don

Kevin Knuth
Mon, 05/03/2010 - 9:14am

Zank thinking others are being petty...now that is rich.

Mon, 05/03/2010 - 9:29am

Tim, as I requested, you gave me a reference. I appreciate that.
Would you please do me another favor? Please stop calling me an ass. Name-calling isn't an argument, it's just a request to get punched in the nose.
You'll notice I don't call you names. I'm not thin-skinned; I'm merely civil.
I imagine Leo has some rules regarding this site, and I imagine name-calling is among them. Perhaps he'll tell us.
Of course, if he throws you out, he'll lose 50% of the people who agree with him.
Have a pleasant day.

Leo Morris
Mon, 05/03/2010 - 9:30am

If I may briefly interrupt the current tz-littlejohn pissing match (and at the risk of annoying their cheerleaders), it might be useful to consider that this is the first platform leak in this country since, I think, around 1969, so we're talking about a pretty safe method of oil extraction. While it's understandable that this accident might make us skittish in the short term about further drilling (just as we might be afraid to fly on the day after a big plane crash), it would be a mistake to let longterm policy be established by the exception rather than the rule. It appears the lack of emergency systems (or at least ones that worked) was a problem here, which can be one effect of a long record of safety -- if the catastrophic hardly ever happens, why bother to spend on planning to prevent it? Given the truly horrendous effects when there is a rare accident, however, this is a shortsighted attitude. If anything good comes of this incident, perhaps more attention to backup systems will be it.

Andrew J.
Mon, 05/03/2010 - 9:59am

Well, for our Gulf beaches now being threatened, better backup systems don't cut it. Sometimes, the risk/damage of even one "exception to the rule" is enough to say don't do it. Gov. Crist, others who were toying with the idea of OK'ing off shore drilling off our coasts here have now gotten a rude awakening when even one mishap happens and its potential environmental devastation. This is one issue, I sense, where people farther away from the coast (midwest for one), don't see this latest spill as something that can't be overcome. But for us, where it's "in our backyard", the threat is real and possibly lasting.

Leo Morris
Mon, 05/03/2010 - 10:28am

What we're talking about are emergency shutoff valves, which certainly would have "cut it" in preventing the magnitude of the spill. And when trying to look at the overall risks and benefits and trying to chart a course, perhaps being to close to the situation is even more problematic than being too far away.

Andrew J.
Mon, 05/03/2010 - 10:50am

Except when the sludge drifts onto my shoreline, pollutes my waterfront and washes up dead, oil covered fish next to my dock. Not to mention what it does for our high unemployment rate of 14 percent if tourism is negatively impacted.

tim zank
Mon, 05/03/2010 - 12:36pm

Andrew, Sounds like Ft Myers may be spared. You could luck out.

Keeping in mind every action has a reaction, if your answer is to stop all offshore drilling, be prepared for your tourism to be non existent in that case as well. No oil production from those rigs will skyrocket oil prices which in turn will skyrocket everything having to do with transportation costs and travel, ergo no tourists.

Mon, 05/03/2010 - 12:44pm

Obama has stated that BP will pay, but I'm not sure I share his confidence.
Exxon has still not paid for cleaning up the Exxon Valdez tanker spill in Alaska.
Their lawyers are simply keeping this in court for as long as possible. I won't be surprised in BP does the same thing.
BP should be forced to not only pay for the clean-up, but to invest an equal amount in solar and wind farms.
We can't know when the next oil spill will happen, but we certainly know it will happen. As much as it may hurt in the short run, we have to change our energy policy.
And yes, Tim, I'm very much a fan of nuclear plants. I disagree with my fellow liberals on that. I don't see how else we can make significant cuts in our dependence on oil and coal with current technology.
And Leo: Be honest. Only one of us was name-calling, or pissing, as you put it. I've always been civil.
And Tim: Since you declined to answer my questions about your education, I'm going to make some obvious assumptions.

tim zank
Mon, 05/03/2010 - 1:29pm

The solar panels and wind farms are simply fabulous idea! Do we put those on the hood or the trunk?

Bob G.
Mon, 05/03/2010 - 2:09pm

Don't want to toss an (electric) wet blanket on this, but up in Alaska, reports stated years later that the environment repaired ITSELF a LOT better after the Exxon Valdez spill than "we" did with ALL our chemicals...(who knew?)

I'm just sayin'...

Andrew J.
Mon, 05/03/2010 - 5:26pm

There's a better answer than just stopping offshore drilling. How about a tax on every passenger car that's 6- or 8-cylinder. You want to drive a 12 mpg gas guzzler, than pay the tax, and then either put that money into a super, duper superfund for oil spill cleanup and remediation, or better yet, hope that forces people to buy economical four-cylinder cars and trucks that will reduce our dependence on the stuff spewing into the Gulf of Mexico as we speak. Frankly, I find it obscene my neighbor just bought a Dodge Ram truck with a hemi engine, 8-cylinder, that sucks gasoline like it's rainwater.

William Larsen
Mon, 05/03/2010 - 6:49pm

Automatic Emergecny cutoff valves are great, but they need to be tested routinely to make sure they are working. Inthe Navy we had a Preventive Maintenance System (PMS) that listed how frequently each item was to be tested, serviced and what parts replaced. Obviuosly they did not verify that the system was in working condition.

As an engineer, I find it terrible that a company would rely solely on an automatic cutoff valve to close the oil leak. What happens if the plat form sinks, digging itself into the sea bed, bursting pipes or the automatic valves? A backup plan should have been devised, tested and be ready to be put into action.

The navy created, tested and placed into service a deep sea submersiable for extracting sailors from a damaged submarine. I am not sure if this was ever needed or used, but I know they tested the procedure.

tim zank
Tue, 05/04/2010 - 11:07am

Andrew, along those same lines, here's another great idea!I would propose a tax on all delivery trucks that deliver goods which could otherwise be delivered electronically. In particular, newspaper delivery trucks.

I find it obscene that my neighbor has a newspaper delivered every single day to his house, using gobs and gobs of fuel when he could very easily read the news online. Much like you, I would hope that would force all those gas guzzling and now unnecessary newspaper delivery trucks off the road and that will reduce our dependence on the stuff spewing into the Gulf of Mexico as we speak!

Andrew J.
Tue, 05/04/2010 - 12:59pm

We tax liquor. We tax smokes. We tax yachts. Why not tax Hummers?
So Tim, what's your solution to oil slicks on Florida and Louisiana shorelines?

tim zank
Tue, 05/04/2010 - 2:24pm

My solution would be to clean them up, and send the bill to BP, and move on. Unfortunately, everything designed, manufactured and built by man is subject to failure because man is not perfect. Accidents are unfortunate but inherent in any endeavor. It's not a perfect world, and it never will be.

Leo Morris
Tue, 05/04/2010 - 2:29pm

Yes. The solution for something catastrophic that happens once every 30 or 40 years is to be more careful in the future.

Andrew J.
Tue, 05/04/2010 - 3:26pm

And there's the solution that if something catastrophic (see definition of catastrophic) happens every 30-40 years, stop doing it.
And Tim, do you really believe it's as simple as cleaning up wetlands, mangroves, estuaries, beaches and sending BP a bill? Can we bill BP for the devastation to our tourism industry when vacationers from Germany decide to bypass Sanibel or Fort Myers Beach for Myrtle Beach? How about the devaluation to my waterfront condo when the oil slick pollutes my frontage and the property assessor drops my market value by 60 percent? Will BP (or the taxpayer) pay for that? This isn't a hurricane, or for you Indiana folks, and act of God like a twister. This is a man-made catastrophe that can be avoided by not doing it.

tim zank
Tue, 05/04/2010 - 5:37pm

I sympathize with the ramifications of a disaster of this magnitude, I really do, I'm in Destin a couple times a year and there is no where more beautiful, but cutting off 1/3 of the supply of oil to the rest of the nation isn't really a well thought out solution on your part.

Like it or not, oil is the life-blood of the entire world and will be for centuries to come. You can either improve safety and drill for it here, or pay OPEC to ship it over here. You've got roughly 4,000 active rigs in the gulf, what effect would flipping the "off" switch have?? As I've pointed out before, every action has a reaction, and if we have to pay OPEC $300 a barrel for oil, you won't have a tourist destination anymore anyway because no one will be able to afford it.

It's a dilemma best solved with safety improvement, not a knee-jerk reaction that would cripple a nation.