We need more than just a ‘Plan D’

Published 11:43 am Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Plan D. That’s where BP is now after yet-another failed attempt to plug the gushing oil well a mile under the Gulf of Mexico.

Since the Deepwater Horizon well exploded and sank in late April, we’ve watched three solutions fail miserably: the top hat, the siphon and the “top kill.” Now, BP officials say they want to try the LMRP, lower marine riser package, a sort of modified top hit containment dome that will siphon – but not contain – the gushing oil and hopefully redirect some of it to cleanup tanker on the surface of the water. Considering this technique depends on two techniques which already have failed, odds are not in its favor. In fact, experts warn, it could worsen conditions since the existing pipe will have to be removed and, quite frankly, no one knows what will happen then.

And that will leave only one viable cleanup option: a relief well, which won’t be drilled until at least August.

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That means some 800,000 gallons of oil will continue to spew into the Gulf of Mexico each day. The slick, which already has closed one-third of federal waters – some 76,000 square miles – to commercial and recreation fishing in the Gulf, will continue to spread. By Tuesday, oil already had washed ashore on a barrier island off the coast of Mississippi and another off the coast of Alabama. The predictions for August, when the well could be completed, are frightening, particularly when considering the fact that hurricane season is upon us.

On Tuesday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced criminal and civil investigations into the oil spill.

That’s little comfort to the thousands of fishermen and their families whose livelihoods are being destroyed by the oil spill, or the millions of residents who have enjoyed the coastlines and the Gulf of Mexico for years. And what about the wildlife and marine life, the impact upon which will be felt for generations to come?

There will be a time for investigations, but this is not it.

What we need now from our federal government is response, leadership and action. We need solutions to contain the spreading oil spill. We need solutions to stop the gushing well a mile below the surface. If BP is unable to do it, then the government needs to step in and make it happen.

We’ve wasted a month on three failed plans, with little hope that Plan D will be more effective.