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The Mother of All Gushers


The mother gusher, BP’s Deepwater Horizon well, has been polluting our planet since the initial explosion on April 20, 2010.

Early on, BP CEO Tony Hayward minimized his company’s responsibility. Blaming Transocean, owner of the rig leased by BP, Hayward said, “It wasn’t our accident, but we are absolutely responsible for the oil, for cleaning it up, and that’s what we intend to do.”

On April 25, robots attempted to seal the well. Failure.

The next day, a containment boom and a dispersant, one that is banned in the UK because it’s an environmental hazard, were placed at the hemorrhage site. On April 27, the Coast Guard set fire to the petroleum in an attempt to save the coast, Minerals Management Service approved a plan for relief wells to be built, and a report was released that there was a “high risk of environmental contamination.”

On April 29, President Obama spoke publicly about the catastrophe.

On April 30, Hayward said BP would pay for all legitimate claims by those whose livelihoods are affected and for the cost of the cleanup.

May delivered multiple failures.

An effort to place containment domes was abandoned when gas formed. Then, a plan called top kill was executed. Mud and other debris were blasted to block the surging crude oil.

Obama said, “Plug the damn hole.”

On May 31, it was reported that Hayward issued amends to locals. He said no one wanted this over more than he. And, then, he delivered a verbal boner: “I would like my life back.” This self-absorbed idiocy caused as much anger as a previous one in which Hayward described the geyser as “tiny.” The recipients of this “apology” are calling the rupture of the floor beneath the water where they work “the apocalypse.”

In early June, attempts were made to cap the valves and BP announced that 10,000 barrels of oil a day were being captured.

In mid-June, Obama compared the catastrophe to 9/11.

On June 23, oil surged, again, after an accident affected the cap.

At the end of June, Hurricane Alex moved in, causing cleanup to be suspended.

In early July, BP robotically placed a containment system over the wellhead. A few days later, a tighter cap was installed. This was pronounced a success.

Until it wasn’t.

July 19 brought the news of oil seepage and a possible methane gas leak.

A July 22 announcement said that BP was ready to employ a procedure called static kill. This involves pumping heavy drilling fluid, mud, into the well to push the petroleum. National Incident Commander Thad Allen said this “might” work, but the decision has not been made to move forward with the plan.

Meanwhile, the oil continues its invasion into the water.

Meanwhile, we have learned that employees working on the rig before the explosion were concerned about safety.

Meanwhile, some operations have been suspended due to a new hurricane threat.

Meanwhile, ecosystems are being destroyed.

Meanwhile, the president and his wife urged people to vacation on the Gulf of Mexico, while they frolicked in Maine.

Meanwhile, there is concern that toxic chemicals may result in an evacuation of residents.

Meanwhile, victims who have lost their jobs as a result of corporate greed and colossal negligence have a dilemma. In order to file a claim, they must predict their damages. It’s difficult enough to arrive at a figure even if a strategy is successful in closing the flow, soon—or in August when the relief well is expected (?) to be in place. However, if the mother gusher can’t be stopped, the victims’ injuries may never be calculated.

Meanwhile, few Americans are connecting this cataclysmic non-accident to oil dependence and to the invasion and occupation of oil-rich countries where our troops are being maimed, brain injured, or slaughtered as they murder civilians in our names.

Meanwhile, according to a CNN poll, most Americans favor offshore drilling.

Missy Beattie lives in Baltimore, Maryland.  Email her at:





Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail:

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