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July 2, 2010 – The Oil Drum is a chat room run by professionals in the oil well drilling industry. It should come as no surprise that these folks have a lot to say about the oil well disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. A great deal of what appears in the articles and comments has to do with the truthfulness of what BP and our government are telling us. There is, of course, a certain degree of contention among the various individuals logging in here. It can be interesting for the uninitiated as long as you don’t get too hung up on understanding the technicalities (from my point of view, who would want to? …).

One lengthy article in particular, contributed by dougr on June 13, has caused me to think about an aspect of the problem I hadn’t even realized existed. The author points out that, just as the portion of the well that we can – or could - see was destroyed, so too has the structural integrity of the well beneath the sea bed been severely compromised. Isn’t it odd – I’d never thought about that. It makes perfect sense, all the more so when dougr cites a report filed at Halliburton prior to the catastrophe stating that the Deepwater Horizon project had not adhered to Halliburton best practices with regard to building with cement. Based upon BP’s various mitigating strategies, all of them failures, dougr concludes that the well is leaking at various unseen places, and that the condition of the site continues to erode. Ultimately, he says, the outcome depends upon the successful completion of the relief well before the well falls in on itself. Go to http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6593#comment-648967 to read his very thorough analysis.

Meanwhile, a resourceful lady by the name of Mac McClelland was interviewed by Glenn Greenwald for Salon radio. McClelland has been running to ground every unanswered question she’s encountered in attempting to provide coverage of the Gulf disaster for Mother Jones magazine. In so doing, she has had repeated opportunities to observe, or hear about, BP’s unabashed thwarting of media doing their job. BP’s response to public and media curiosity has been the hiring of local police and private security firms to keep people from going where, in BP’s opinion, they shouldn’t go. McClelland has experienced this herself, time and again. She goes on to say that, while the federal government maintains that helicopter flyovers may descend to 1500 feet above the water, the enforced limit is 3000 feet. Needless to say, this makes it harder to see what is in and on the water.

She draws a comparison between the reporting of the disaster in the areas being directly affected and those further away. It makes perfect sense to know that local papers give it ongoing front page status, and that conversations she overhears have to do with only one topic: the oil spill. Seeing it, smelling it, and touching it serves, I feel sure, to heighten the immediacy to an unbearable point. With two unconfirmed suicides having already been reported, residents of the Gulf coast are suffering quietly; they never stop thinking about the hurt, and there is no end in sight. It is, after all, the only world they know that is changing before their very eyes. You can read the entire transcript of the McClelland interview at http://utdocuments.blogspot.com/2010/06/transcript-mac-mcclelland.html .

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