Deepwater Horizon: Incident Protocol Was Not
Everyone saw what happened on April 20, 2010 when
the Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig exploded and caught
fire with the loss of 11 lives.
First of all, we want to know who was working on
that rig. To date we have no idea as to whether or
not there were any Foreign Nationals working aboard
that oil rig, something that many see as what could
point to espionage or terrorism. Until we know for
sure who was working on that rig and what their
background was, we can not rule out either as a
BP has been quick to say it was an accident
describing it as an "equipment failure” even though
at least 1 of the oil rig workers has gone public
saying they had "no warning” of anything wrong with
what they were doing.
Have you noticed the information coming from the oil
rig workers has stopped???
What we’ve seen happen since then has experts
scratching their heads wondering why the established
Federal Plan called the "In-Situ Burn” plan which
was produced in 1994 by Federal Agencies responsible
for handling and event like a major Gulf oil spill
That plan would have brought a Hydro-Fire Boom
System directly to the scene being pulled by 2 boats
which would have completely surrounded the oil rig
keeping the oil in the immediate area of the rig.
This wasn’t done.
Now let’s take a look at why water was dumped on the
fire for 3 days straight instead of the use of foam.
With the explosion it was obvious to fire units,
including the Coast Guard, there was the presence of
gas at the well. It is a normal practice to use
water first and then try and approach the source, in
this case the rig, and attempt to shut any and all
valves off. The water is used to shield the gas and
firefighters who would them attempt to shut the
valves off on the oil rig.
The problem with the water was with any chemical
fire, water helps to spread the chemical, in this
case oil, further away from the fire.
What could and should have been used to immediately
smother the fire was foam. In the fire service foam
has been used in all conditions including on the
water to smother oil, gas and chemical fires before
along with use of a fire boom to keep it where it
When Federal officials called, Elastec/American
Marine shipped the only boom it had in stock,
according to CFO Jeff Bohleber. Then at Federal
official’s request they began calling customers in
other Countries asking if the U.S. Government could
borrow their fire booms.
Once again, I repeat, this goes against the
established Government Protocol that was put in
place back in 1994 where Hydro-Fire Boom Systems
were supposed to be stored in the Gulf available for
just such an emergency. Obviously that wasn’t the
The deadly blowout of an oil rig in the Gulf of
Mexico was triggered by a bubble of methane gas that
escaped from the well and shot up the drill column,
expanding quickly as it burst through several seals
and barriers before exploding, according to
interviews with rig workers conducted during BP's
While the cause of the explosion is still under
investigation, the sequence of events described in
the interviews provides the most detailed account of
the April 20 blast that killed 11 workers and
touched off the underwater gusher that has poured
more than 3 million gallons of crude into the Gulf
Portions of the interviews, two written and one
taped, were described in detail to an Associated
Press reporter by Robert Bea, a University of
California Berkeley engineering professor who serves
on a National Academy of Engineering panel on oil
pipeline safety and worked for BP PLC as a risk
assessment consultant during the 1990s. He received
them from industry friends seeking his expert
A group of BP executives were on board the Deepwater
Horizon rig celebrating the project's safety record,
according to the transcripts. Meanwhile, far below,
the rig was being converted from an exploration well
to a production well.
Based on the interviews, Bea believes that the
workers set and then tested a cement seal at the
bottom of the well. Then they reduced the pressure
in the drill column and attempted to set a second
seal below the sea floor. A chemical reaction caused
by the setting cement created heat and a gas bubble
which destroyed the seal.
Deep beneath the seafloor, methane is in a slushy,
crystalline form. Deep sea oil drillers often
encounter pockets of methane crystals as they dig
into the earth.
And then came the accusations revealing that BP had
contributed millions of dollars in 2007 and 2008
to the Democratic Party for the 2008 Elections. They
also received some "special exemptions" from the
Federal Government. Special exemptions for what? We
need to know if it was because of the 'money' that
these exemptions were granted.
So, who dropped the ball???
Let’s start with the Department of the Interior
whose Under Secretary on call for just such an
emergency was white river rafting with his wife in
the Grand Canyon. It’s still not clear if this
person was notified and chose to remain on his trip
or just couldn’t be reached.
Then there was BP telling everyone for the first 96
hours "we have everything under control.” Nothing,
in fact, could have been further from the truth as
we all now know.
After the oil rig collapsed into the Gulf of Mexico,
the answer now lies at the bottom of the Gulf in
5,000 feet of water.
Now because BP was providing information to both the
Coast Guard, DOE and EPA which proved to be
inaccurate, those Agencies just seemed to follow
along until it was realized some 5 days later the
information just wasn’t correct.
We then found out there were 3 oil leaks at the
floor of the Gulf spurred by the oil rig explosion,
fire and then collapse.
So with the Federal Government scrambling to say
"Units were immediately deployed,” the Federal
response teams had to sit and wait for their
equipment to show up so they could spring into
action. Meanwhile we started to hear statements like
"this could take a while,” or "it could be 30 to 90
days to stop the flow of oil.”
Again I point to the earlier Oil Rig Fire Protocol
plan that had been instituted back in 1994 which was
If that plan and the equipment to conduct had of
been in place, as it was supposed to be, we would
NOT be looking at this huge Gulf oil spill today nor
would we be talking about "who did what, when.”
I submit to you, the readers, that mistakes were
made, starting with the Federal Government not
following their own plan they had in place along
with taking the word of BP, who obviously had no
clue what they were talking about merely hoping for
the best which never came.
What we need now is a thorough and complete
investigation by Congress, the U.S. Coast Guard and
even an Independent Panel of experts to find out
what mistakes and made and make sure they NEVER
In the Fire Service and Emergency Management
Services all across the Country we prepare for all
types of disasters and our response to them. We have
planners who do nothing but write disaster response
plans for everything ranging from Hurricanes,
Wildfires, Terrorist Attacks, Floods, Earthquakes,
Avalanches, Hazardous Material Explosions and even
Oil Rig Fires both on land and water.
There was a plan in place to deal with the Deepwater
Horizon Oil Rig, "In-Situ Burn” Plan, which was
never followed and we need to find out why and make
sure an event like this NEVER happens again.
Matt Bruce is a 2-time combat wounded U.S. Army
Vietnam Veteran and has a son currently serving in
the U.S. Marine Corps. He also is a retired 25 year
Fire-Rescue Captain and recipient of the Fire
Department's Highest Award For Heroism, 'The Medal
of Valor'. Now he is the Managing Editor & Publisher
and host of the popular
"The Captain's AMERICA"
Radio Show heard nationally syndicated
weekends on the Phoenix Broadcasting Network via
satellite and broadcast around the World on the