Gulf of Mexico Walruses?

I learned something new the other day – it seems there are walruses in the Gulf of Mexico.

.. or so the BP emergency response plan for its Gulf operations seemed to indicate. However, BP weren’t the only oil company with similar wording in their own contingency plans for activities connected with the region. Congressman Ed Markey said that three other oil companies also claimed in spill response plans that walruses were factored in.

While these walruses would certainly be a wonderful tourist attraction, you probably haven’t heard of their presence in the region as it appears they haven’t been in the Gulf of Mexico for 3 million years.

Another rather embarrassing mistake for BP and other oil companies is the inclusion of a marine biologist’s phone number in emergency contact details listed in response plans. The marine biologist in question has been dead for 5 years.

It just goes to show, you need to be careful when cutting and pasting when it comes to crucial documentation that may one day be put under the microscope-  and documents such as emergency response plans need to be given the attention to detail they deserve. 

These revelations also throw into doubt the testimony of other oil companies who this week swore black and blue they would never had attempted such a risky operation that led to the BP oil leak disaster. Can we trust them if they appear to be so glib about such important documentation?

However, while the revelations are a source of great amusement in some cases and fuelling outrage in others and it’s always comforting to have scapegoats; we all need to look at our own role in the Gulf of Mexico oil leak disaster. Aside from the greed of shareholders, our collective demand for cheap fuel just encourages the cutting of corners that can lead to environmental havoc.

Let’s face it, while solar power and wind energy are certainly a major part of the solution to our energy needs, we’re not going to wean ourselves off fossil fuels any time soon – so here are a couple of questions we all need to ask ourselves:

How much extra are we prepare to pay for a gallon of gas so that proper precautions are taken to ensure another Gulf of Mexico or Niger Delta event (which is a current, decades old ongoing environmental disaster) never, ever happens again? 

How much less a dividend are oil company shareholders prepared to wear to ensure the same?

BP’s mess in some ways is a oil spattered reflection of us all.


Effects of oil spills
Peak oil – the end is nigh?
Canada’s tar sands