Friday, May 07, 2010

What Emergency Action Plans?

I work in a highly regulated industry, sewage and water treatment. For sewage treatment, you need to have a plan in case a sewer line ever backs up. This includes in someone's house, in a street, or near a waterway or storm sewer system. You need to have emergency by-pass pumping, the hose to go from one manhole to another, booms or sandbags to stop the flow of raw sewage above ground, a means of sucking up any spill, and a means of disinfecting and cleaning up the spill. This does not include reporting requirements. Improper reporting carries its own fine. Oh yes, you have to practice emergency response, too.

The fines for spilled sewage depend upon the damage and the State, but can go up to $10,000 per gallon, while $1-2/gallon are more common. If you are the licensed operator when this happens under your license, you can lose your license if you are unprepared or if you report incorrectly.

In the Gulf, it appears there was no Emergency Action Plan (dictated by OSHA beyond getting personnel off the platform). It was reported incorrectly in terms of severity. There were no oil booms at ready in case of a blunder. No privateers ready to be hired to contain the spill. The Coast Guard had to be involved. Now there is the use of chemicals to spread it out so it doesn't look so bad. These chemicals themselves may be harmful if they enter the food chain. Considering most shellfish (mollusks, oysters, clams, etc.) are filter feeders that is very likely to happen. So, let's see, BP was operating without an Emergency plan. Did not have containment procedures in place. Not enough oil containment booms, no practice and no way to get booms in place for the few they had. Oh yes, causing billions of dollars of long-term damage. And to slap the locals in the face, they mistakenly offered them $5,000 as long as they signed a waiver saying the firm had no future liabilities. Yes, that just happened to appear on the preprinted forms by accident. No malicious intent there. Nope, didn't try to to slip liability limiting clauses in without telling anyone. Yet, they had record profits.

How can anyone keep a straight face and allow them a business license in the US? Oh, wait, they have us by the nuts because Reagan and those who followed said we do not need alternative energy. Way to go. Hell, as far as I am concerned we could take over all their platforms and assets in the US by imminent domain because of their business practices and operate them ourselves or sell them to the highest bidder and say "FU BP!"


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