The Pics: The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured a natural-color image of the oil slick just off the Louisiana coast. The top image shows a wide-area view, and the bottom image shows a close-up view of the oil slick (outlined in white in the top image). The oil slick appears as dull gray interlocking comma shapes, one opaque and the other nearly transparent. The northwestern tip of the oil slick almost touches the Mississippi Delta. Sunglint—the mirror-like reflection of the Sun off the water—enchances the oil slick’s visibility.
The Sad Buzz: The oil slick resulted from an explosion that occurred on April 20, 2010, on the Deepwater Horizon rig. Two days after the explosion, the rig sank to the ocean floor, and a pipe connected to the well on the sea floor broke. Oil began leaking from the pipe, The New York Times reported. The following week, the U.S. Coast Guard discovered a new leak, and also found that five times as much oil was pouring from the well as initially assumed, according to Reuters.
Disasters such as this one are rarely the result of a single catastrophic failure. Usually, they are the result of a series of smaller failures, any one of which might receive little or no attention.
In this instance, I wonder just how many small corners were cut to save a buck, to improve a profit margin, to boost a bottom line, to make investors one dollar happier, until finally the stage was set for an explosion, a crash to the sea floor, and an oil slick the likes of which this world has never seen.
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