I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
It coulda been worse: BP warned last year a bigger spill was possible
You think the Deepwater Horizon spill is bad? You don’t know the half of it. BP’s June 2009 regional oil spill response plan for the Gulf of Mexico describes an “expected worst case scenario” that would dwarf the current disaster, dumping up to 250,000 barrels per day into the Gulf of Mexico.
The response plan was originally written in December 2000 and was last revised in June 2009 by The Response Group of Houston, Texas. A redacted version of the plan was obtained by New Orleans freelance writer and blogger Karen Dalton Beninato, who posted the entire 582-page document online Friday.
The Deepwater Horizon mobile drilling rig platform’s leaks have spilled up to 1.1 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico since April 23, according to recent estimates.
But BP’s worst-case exploratory well blowout scenario would match that in just four days, suggests the 2009 response plan scenario.
“BP has determined that its worst case scenario for discharge from a mobile drilling rig operation would occur from the Mississippi Canyon 462 lease,” the response plan states. “MC 462 is a planned exploration well targeted for Miocene oil reservoirs. Given the anticipated reservoir thickness and historical productivity index for the Miocene, worst case discharge is expected to be 250,000 barrels of crude oil per day.”
The current Deepwater Horizon spill occurred at the MC-252 lease, in the same undersea Mississippi Canyon formation.
The response plan’s estimates of oil evaporation rates raise unanswered questions about the health risks faced by ship crews and cleanup crews near the spill. The plan describes computer models that indicate 5 percent of the oil on the water surface would evaporate each day, but does not address the potential health threats to response crews posed by the volatile airborne chemicals.
The response plan also warns BP public relations employees not to claim that the Gulf ecosystem could be returned to normal after a large spill. Company officials have ignored that advice, however, repeatedly stating in television interviews that the goal is to return the Gulf ecosystem to normal.
Jeff Marshall of The Response Group in Houston confirmed Monday that his company had updated the BP response plan in June 2009. Marshall told The Independent Monday morning the response plan is updated annually “as they (BP) change personnel and environmental conditions change.”
That suggests the company is now updating its response plan for 2010, but Marshall refused to answer any additional questions.