In a recent article in the Green Living Tips newsletter, Michael Bloch reflects on the notorious flaws in BP’s emergency response plan for the ruptured oil well in the Gulf of Mexico. Apparently the plan was more of a cut-paste-and-print job than robust contingency planning. Nobody reviewed it well enough to catch the part about oil spill impact on walruses. “While these walruses would certainly be a wonderful tourist attraction, you probably haven’t heard of their presence in the region as it appears they haven’t been in the Gulf of Mexico for 3 million years,” Bloch writes. Evidently material was cribbed from a similar document for a different part of the world. The plan also included the emergency contact number of a marine biologist who died five years ago.
BP has a lot to answer for, but there’s plenty of fault to go around. The document in question had much in common (including the walruses and the deceased scientist) with several other oil companies’ Gulf of Mexico emergency response plans. Neither these companies nor the government’s oversight agency, the MMS, took the possibility of a catastrophic oil spill seriously. The insatiable American appetite for resources and wealth is implicated too. Bloch concludes, “BP’s mess in some ways is an oil spattered reflection of us all.”