The catastrophic explosion that rocked through the deepwater horizon of the Gulf of Mexico on 20th April 2010 brought to fore the ethical, environmental, economic and technical issues. The nation was puzzled on how a known company like Bp could allow such disaster of such magnitude to happen despite the company pride on offering state of the art safety measures
Before the occurrence of the catastrophe a negative pressure test was conducted to check the mechanical barrier, the results came out unsatisfactory; the results were misinterpreted by both the BPs site leaders as well as the Transocean rig crew. The hydrocarbon influx was not detected when it subsequently went into the riser leading to the catastrophic explosion, Rick Jervis (2010) . The engineers designed a weak and a poorly cement slurry that was used to prevent hydrocarbon to sip through to the well. According to the national commission established by President Obama to investigate the Deepwater Horizon oil spill revealed that the vital component of the blowout preventer wasn't working that was responsible for allowing the hydrocarbon to sip through the riser. This was a definite engineering failure on the part of the BPs engineers to detect the flaws in the system before it became operational.
Before the disaster, the rig underwent a safety audit which revealed that in needed 390 repairs. This called for immediate attention, but the BPs engineers didnt heed the call. Furthermore, the chief Electronics technician Mike Williams noted that the site crew had to do a workaround to maintain the rig which took a toll on them. Williams on the other part had the task of overseeing the maintenance of the drilling chairs using three computers. The problem was that the computers were running on the old Windows NT operating system which occasional froze. Though William reported the issues a dozen times, the company didn't act fast to fix it.
Bop engineers violated Code of Ethics for Engineers stipulated under Sections II.1.a-b,f which states that engineers are supposed to safeguard the safety, health as well as the welfare of the general public. Moreover, the engineers should approve only all those engineers who have got documents that are compliant with the applicable standards. Moreover, engineers are supposed to report to the relevant professional bodies in case of violation of this code. This was not the case with BOP; this led to the arrest of former BP engineer Kurt Mix, who violated this law by obstruction of justice after he allegedly destroyed records stored electronically on his phone concerning the response to the Deepwater Horizon disaster on April 2010.
The engineers at the site also violated section 11.2.a of the code of ethics for an engineer, which explicitly states that engineers are only allowed to perform services in their area of expertise and competence, more so they shall only undertake duties which are aligned with their respective experience or education duly qualify them. This was not the case considering the fact the engineer who tested the compression of the pipe as well the engineer who conducted the negative pressure tests were not experienced enough to undertake that assignment. The engineers who designed the faulty rig decided to go for the less reliable rig casing design, cement and the cement installation.
What the engineers ought to have done to avert such a disaster is to procure state of the art equipment coupled with the engineers who are conversant with its operations and maintenance. They should also have put in place a better response team adequately trained to generate a quick reaction to search adversity. Bp should have invested in eco-friendly drilling techniques that reduce the damage caused by drilling activities; they should also invest in rigs with low carbon emission. Finally, they ought to have on spot waste disposal facility that could have prevented the catastrophic effect of the oil spill on the environment. Bps top management and engineers complacency and lack of concern on the part of the engineers led to the disaster that that didnt not only had a heavy toll on the environment but also to the workers and their families.
Rick Jervis (2010) , Gulf Blast Appears to be Blowout, Wall Street Journal.
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