At OTC this year there is an obvious difference in the air. As I went into the press room I had major newspaper reporters and camera crews from some of the largest news networks taking turns to get into the show floor to interview people about their feelings and speculations on the Deepwater Horizon tragedy.
As a journalist I understand the need for it to be covered. What I don’t understand is why it seems it’s being covered like a TMZ.com report. While speculations are being reported, companies are being targeted, stocks are dropping, lawsuits are being filed, and decisions are being made when no one truly knows the facts yet. In a country where people are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, it seems fingers are being pointed constantly in different directions. Decisions are being made on assumptions written by journalists who probably do not fully understand the technology, or the amount of companies involved in drilling a well.
The reason it bothers me is because I was part of the numerous students at Texas A&M University who witnessed the Bonfire collapse 10 years ago. I was in the front covering the story, taking pictures, asking the questions I already knew the answers to. I was there when two students were still unaccounted for, knowing the outcome would not be good news as more logs were removed. I remember turning on the television and hearing people on the news speculating on what could have done wrong, A&M’s liability, how stupid we (the students) were to be on this stack and how unsafe it was (even though we had successfully had done Bonfires for nine decades previous to that!). I collapsed and cried. How can they say such terrible things when 12 people died? We were even given a “Darwin” award (according to Wikipedia, it is a tongue-in-cheek honor named after evolutionary theorist Charles Darwin bestowed upon people who have made a service to the human race by removing themselves from the gene pool). It was an accident and yet we were humiliated.
It’s the same idea. There are about 131 rigs currently in the Gulf of Mexico. That’s not counting how many there are in the North Sea, offshore Brazil, Canada… EVERYWHERE! More people die in a plane crash than die in a rig accident in a decade. Thousands of people die per year in car accidents involving drunk driving and yet no one has ever suggested we put an apparatus to blow into before the car is able to start in every single vehicle sold. If we did that, do you realize how many lives would be saved? But yet one rig accident and suddenly the industry is careless and we have to redo all the policies, stop offshore drilling, and depend on foreign oil – exactly what we’ve been working so hard to avoid.
Everything in life has a risk. Every day you get in a car is a risk. Every day you shower. Lately even what you eat is a risk! We as a human race are so quick to point fingers and say, “I’m inconvenienced, I’m hurt, I’m disappointed, and it’s your fault. What are you going to do about it?” Know the facts.
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