Lessons BP learned from the oil spill

Ships assist in clean-up and containment near the source of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: Remember the blowout preventer on the BP well, the one that failed and brought us a summer's worth of oil flowing into the Gulf of Mexico? BP 86'd it today. Took it right off the well. It's going to take a day or two to get it up to the surface. The company also announced it's spent $8 billion so far cleaning up in the Gulf. And learned a couple of lessons in the process.

From the Marketplace Sustainability Desk, Eve Troeh reports.


Eve Troeh:Before the BP spill, the technology to drill deeper far outpaced the technology to clean up a spill a mile or more down.

Engineer Nancy Kinner says there's a reason for that.

Nancy Kinner: We don't put money into things until they're broken.

Kinner is co-director of the Coastal Response Research Center at University of New Hampshire. She says such a deep oil well blowout forced BP to innovate. A few developments? It created an oil well cap system that won't freeze in deep waters. It injected oil dispersant onto the sea bed, not just on the surface. And it learned to simultaneously operate lots of remote-controlled machines on the sea floor.

But Kinner says solutions created on the fly are just a start.

Kinner: What you really need to do is to develop a system that really is what you would build from the ground up, not just what you'd build during the fire, so to speak.

The BP report doesn't offer suggestions to make deep water drilling safer, or to prevent another spill.

I'm Eve Troeh for Marketplace.

About the author

Eve Troeh is News Director at WWNO-FM in New Orleans, La., helping build the first public radio news department in the station’s 40-year history. She reported for the Marketplace Sustainability Desk from 2010 to 2013.

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