I haven’t been paying a great deal of attention to the actual *cause* of the oil leak, in the sense of whose *fault* it is (I mean, in the physical sense rather than any stupid legal sense). [[Deepwater Horizon oil spill#Investigations]] has some stuff. In fact I’ll quote it, so we have a sort of agreed position to start from, if only to disagree with:
Attention has focused on the cementing procedure and the blowout preventer, which failed to fully engage. A number of significant problems have been identified with the blowout preventer: There was a leak in the hydraulic system that provides power to the shear rams. The underwater control panel had been disconnected from the bore ram, and instead connected to a test hydraulic ram. The blowout preventer schematic drawings, provided by Transocean to BP, do not correspond to the structure that is on the ocean bottom. The shear rams are not designed to function on the joints where the drill pipes are screwed together or on tools that are passed through the blowout preventer during well construction. The explosion may have severed the communication line between the rig and the sub-surface blowout preventer control unit such that the blowout preventer would have never received the instruction to engage. Before the backup dead man’s switch could engage, communications, power and hydraulic lines must all be severed, but it is possible hydraulic lines were intact after the explosion. Of the two control pods for the deadman switch, the one that has been inspected so far had a dead battery.
Just hours before the explosion, a BP representative overruled Transocean employees and insisted on displacing protective drilling mud with seawater. One of the BP representatives on the board responsible for making the final decision, Robert Kaluza, refused to testify on the Fifth Amendment grounds that he might incriminate himself; Donald Vidrine, another BP representative, cited medical reasons for his inability to testify, as did James Mansfield, Transocean’s assistant marine engineer on board.
On June 1, 2010 U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that he has opened a criminal investigation of the BP oil spill. “There are a wide range of possible violations, and we will closely examine the actions of those involved in this spill,” Holder said.
So the poll is: I think that the fundamental cause of the oil leak is…
0. I don’t think enough information is currently available to decide
1. BP’s fault
2. 1, plus with gross and possibly criminal negligence
3. The fault of one of the subcontractors
4. 3, plus as for 2 “with gross negligence”
5. 3 (or 4) but plus “and since BP should have been closely supervising them, essentially the fault is BP’s”
6. (just for symmetry with 5) one of 1-5, plus “and since the US govt should have been closely supervising them, essentially the fault is the US govt’s”
7. Although this is a disaster, no-one is particularly at fault; these things just happen sometimes
8. 7, plus “and the risks are sufficiently high that we shouldn’t drill in the gulf” (amplification: dec suggests in the comments that for “Chernobyl accident… the real human error was to choose a design which was known to be risky i.e to place water so near to graphite.”)
9. ZOMG! This is so obviously BP’s fault that even considering waiting to look for evidence is practically criminal conspiracy with Evil Oil Companies; burn them, they are witches.
At the moment, I’m with 0. But you can try to convince me otherwise. To point out the obvious: mere assertion that there is evidence will be unconvincing; you need links and quotes.
Incidentally, misc people have called this spill “unprecendented”. That seems dubious (except in the traditional sense that 11 dead in Cumbria is headline news for days; 11 misc folks dead in road accidents are routinely ignored); it certainly isn’t the largest, see [[Largest oil spills]] – it isn’t even close.