Posts Tagged “BP”

A Benefit Corporation maintains its status through sustainable business practices, environmental efforts, participation in community projects and well-being of its employees.

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I don’t believe in coincidence. What I do believe is that something happened to Kevin Costner in the course of making the 1995 film Waterworld that absolutely captured his imagination and wouldn’t let go. The caption below the setting sun says it all, “BEYOND THE HORIZON LIES THE SECRET TO A NEW BEGINNING.”

He saw the potential of being able to clean up oil spills like the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster in short order. The questions and answers began to crystallize when he and his scientist brother Dan saw a tiny centrifuge that could separate toxic material from water. He began to ask the “what if” questions and five years later had a working prototype that would separate water and oil on a large scale.

I can identify with the phenomenon because there are challenges and the solutions to them that just will not let go of me and I will not rest until I see them fleshed out in real world scenarios. Some intelligent moves by some major decision makers at this juncture could absolutely have an impact on our sluggish economy and revive confidence in America’s leadership to respond to negative circumstances and turn them into victories.

The actor / producer / environmentalist had a vision and was poised for the Deepwater Horizon disaster, but was detained by both the House and the Senate. They ordered the device tested to see if BP would verify that it is really effective. The model V20 centrifuge can clean about 200 gallons of seawater per minute, which translates into more than 200,000 gallons per day. 32 of these machines have the potential to process over 6 million gallons of oil-laden water every day and daily recover as much as 2.5 million gallons (60,000 barrels) of crude into tankers.

They could have been in place within the first week after the ruptured well began spewing oil to the surface – they should have been in place within the first month after the incident – 4 of them finally began to be used on the 2nd day of July, more than two months after the explosion. So much oil has washed ashore that could have been prevented. This advanced technology will shorten the length of time that it takes to return the Gulf of Mexico to its previous condition. At least it will be a weapon in the arsenal for future spills.

Costner’s water / oil separator has been, according to his own words, “sitting on the shelf for the last ten years.” It is proven technology, not just a dream. Various government agencies, as well as major oil companies, have witnessed the effectiveness of Costner’s device over the last ten years. Seriously, while we are in the middle of an economic valley, we could be turning this disaster into a history making success story. Somebody or several somebodies apparently don’t feel the urgency to make that happen.

Fifteen years and $24 million of Costner’s personal money went into the development of this water / oil centrifuge. The first 32 of the units stand ready to be deployed. Washington has signed off on it pending adequate testing; BP has contracted with Costner and Ocean Therapy Solutions, his manufacturing company, but when will we actually see a flotilla of these in action and have something of a sustainable recovery on the horizon?

Washington – 17 June 2010 . . .

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Port Fourchon, LA – 18 June 2010 . . .

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Port Fourchon, LA – 2 July 2010 . . .

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Academia is all about correct analysis and thorough treatment of every aspect of an issue. It has its place in historical perspective and in teaching the most appropriate course of action to take in future situations. On the other hand, leadership is about taking action now to prevent or to resolve issues.

When the Deepwater Horizon oil platform exploded and the well casing collapsed on April 20, 2010, leaders with capable technologies immediately popped up from all over the nation and all over the world to help resolve the single most devastating environmental disaster in US history. Their offers were categorically refused by both the US government and by British Petroleum. The delayed and feeble efforts of BP to accomplish single-handed control of the ruptured well head and clean up the spreading oil spill have been apparently beyond their capabilities.

BP’s CEO Tony Hayward seems to place his leadership as far away from the Gulf of Mexico as possible, dodging specific questions about the incident or personal involvement with the restoration process. Over the last 5 years BP has been cited for over 750 safety infractions by OSHA compared to less than 10 infractions charged to major US petroleum companies. I would say that there is much to know here and not much of a way to find out. Bottom line seems to be a leadership void in this situation. A 20 billion dollar restoration fund administered by a third party seems to balance the scales of justice somewhat, but the demonstration of responsible leadership to correct the multitude of problems connected with this disaster is sadly missing.

Now, it is clear that millions of gallons of crude oil will drift to shore for a stretch of hundreds of miles along the Gulf Coast for an undetermined period of time — perhaps for years. As it creeps from open waters to land it is destroying incalculable numbers of aquatic life, both plant and animal. The suffocating slime is damaging ecosystems and shutting down fishing and shrimping and tourism and is amassing more damages every day. 2010 may well be long remembered as the year that, for all practical purposes, shut down the Gulf Coast economy. I can’t leave this sad thought dangling, so I am compelled to stand and applaud the efforts of thousands of volunteers and organizations who are working so valiantly to clean up the beaches and shores of the Gulf to at least ward off some of the damages of the daily assault from the waterborne sludge.

Watch this report from an Australian news agency that gained exclusive access:

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Had at least some of these most promising solutions been implemented, it is easily possible that well over 90% of the crude oil could have been recovered in open waters and prevented from reaching landfall. Even though blame will be assigned and some form of justice demanded, this is not the time for finger-pointing. It is the time for real leadership to step up and bring effective measures to bear on the situation at hand. It is time to create employment opportunities to help remedy the damaged environment. It is time for good old American volunteerism to shine its brightest. It is time to attack the problem with sustainable solutions that bring life and hope and restoration.

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