Featured on Scientific American this week is an article discussing how science and technology stopped last summer’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The piece, authored by Scientific American’s David Biello, provides a narrative of how scientific discussion and collaboration resulted in a solution to one of history’s largest environmental disasters.
The article discusses how high-tech solutions were discusses, discarded and improved upon until they could finally be used to stop the stream of oil gushing into the Gulf.
Forty-eight hours into an attempt to muscle a gusher of oil back into the deep-sea well from which it spewed, the flow of petroleum and gas refused to slow. Screen after screen in a special room at BP’s headquarters in Houston showed the oil gushing undiminished, silently witnessed underwater by remotely operated vehicles(ROVs).
The room—called the HIVE, for Highly Immersive Visualization Environment—was hardly the only place at BP buzzing with activity. Earlier, locked in the 10-meter-square “intervention room” on the third floor, scientist fought scientist in the battle over whether to proceed with an established way to plug the leak, the so-called “top kill” operation…
While driving across the hill country this morning, I caught up on some national news via National Public Radio (and KUT). On the docket – a story discussing the fact that Halliburton and BP knew that the cement used to seal the bottom of the well that would later spew oil into the Gulf of Mexico for 3 months, was flawed and did not meet industry standard. Failing 3 of the 4 tests it was subjected to, the concrete slurry was labeled “unstable” by Halliburton as early as February 2010.
According to an article published by the NY Times:
In the first official finding of responsibility for the blowout, which killed 11 workers and led to the biggest offshore oil spill in American history, the commission staff determined that Halliburton had conducted three laboratory tests that indicated that the cement mixture did not meet industry standards.