The morning that Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, causing a fatal levee breach that claimed the lives of 1,200 people, Federal Emergency Management (FEMA) chief, Michael Brown, wrote an email to his public affairs department joking: “Can I quit now? Can I go home?” Anyone with a real background in emergency management knows that it is critical to react quickly, and with all possible intensity, as soon as the crisis emerges.
I’m afraid that Tony Hayward, CEO of British Petroleum, also felt like burying his head under the pillow, as the oil leak crisis continues to escalate out of control, with 4.2 million gallons of oil already spilled into the Gulf of Mexico.
As for me, after three weeks of waking up at night with anxiety attacks about this blow to our environment, I am ready to hammer Mr. Hayward (and President Obama) with some of the questions I ask as when I manage a crisis in my own business, where we are responsible for keeping our customers’ servers up and running 24/7:
How many people should develop solutions for stopping the leak? Are other oil companies jumping in to help BP, producing solutions in parallel?
How do we know that all available technologies are being brought to bear, regardless of whether they are proprietary, and all experts in this field have been consulted, regardless of their location or employer?
Is cost a limiting factor in the efforts to stop the leak? Are there solutions, such as using tankers to siphon oil-contaminated water from the spill area for treatment, that are currently not being implemented because of cost?
Is BP working with all possible speed on the relief well? Why only one relief well?
What happens if BP’s efforts to drill another well suffer a setback? Would another company be able to drill a second one, and potentially faster?
Who is representing the interests of the public in this matter? Who is verifying BP’s statements?
What else is flowing out of the well besides oil? Are gasses such as SO3 flowing out of the well, contributing to ocean acidification?
Why can’t the government get involved in the efforts to stop the flow? Isn’t this a matter of national security?
Are there solutions available to the government, such as oil dispersal at a low depth with submarines, that are not being implemented?
As concerned citizens, we must not continue to let this crisis unfold. Instead of finger-pointing, we need an all-out effort to resolve this problem. Please contact Mr. Tony Hayward’s office at BP and the White House.