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DeepWater Horizon was a deep-sea, deep Earth drilling rig positioned off the coast of Louisiana. It was owned by TransOcean Corporation and operated under a lease to British Petroleum, one of the largest oil companies in the world.
This tragedy is a prime example of the reckless use of advanced technologies. First, operating through more than a mile of water, deeper than nuclear submarines can travel, the DeepWater Horizon rig then tunneled 30,000 feet into the Earth. This is perhaps the deepest boring in the history of deep water operations ever.
The problem started with a blowout, an industry term for an expanding methane gas bubble from inside the crust of the planet, which changes shape from a crystalline form to gaseous form as it rises from the cold seafloor, thus expanding within the massive pipe.
There was apparently chaos on DeepWater Horizon when they hit the hyper-pressurized chemical pocket. There were several anomalies (discussed below) that occurred on the station and the crew did not have the safety gear, knowledge, or wherewithall to deal with the crisis. Remember, this hole and the vast lake of petroleum it leads to, is very deep in the Earth, under millions of tons of pressure from the sea and the crust above.
When the explosive bubble reached the surface the rig exploded immediately, killing 11 TransOcean employees, and injuring an unknown amount of other personnel. The remaining crew jumped into the ocean and were evacuated from the site as, over the next 48 hours the massive rig crumbled and sank to the bottom of the sea ripping open the exit point to the well a mile below.
The result is not an oil “spill,” but an open chasm at great depths of the sea-floor gushing crude oil and toxic chemicals at an extremely high rate, perhaps as high as 3 MILLION barrels of oil a day, not to mention other gases and methane.
It has become abundantly clear that both BP and TransOcean were in blatant violation of several (already lax) drilling laws. Among these, and perhaps the most important, are rules pertaining to blowout preventers, which are required by law to be in place to shut off the riser (pipeline) if pressures get too high. They also DID NOT have a permit to drill so deep, as this is much more dangerous than typical superficial drill operations.