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About That “BP Expertise”

The Christian Science Monitor reports on “the mystery plumber”:

The identity of the “mystery plumber” whose homemade design for a new containment cap may have helped to finally stanch the Gulf oil spill geyser emerged Saturday.

His name is Joe Caldart, a married, 40-something blue-collar guy with five kids and three hound dogs living in St. Francis, Kan. Mr. Caldart has 907 Facebook friends. He likes the band Rednecks & Red Dirt, watches “Family Guy,” and cites the 1978 Burt Reynolds flick “Hooper” as one of his favorites.

Caldart’s sketches, routed six weeks ago to BP and the Coast Guard through University of California petroleum engineer Robert Bea, are a near identical match to the design of a new containment cap lowered last week over the renegade Macondo well 50 miles off Venice, La.

“The idea was using the top flange on the blowout preventer as an attachment point and then employing an internal seal against that flange surface,” says Dr. Bea. “You can kind of see how a plumber thinks this way. That’s how they have to plumb homes for sewage.”

Caldart, who first started plumbing as a teenager, says he originally sent BP three sketches depicting a flange and plug design similar to those used in high-pressure hotel plumbing on May 25th. At that point, he says he was told by BP that they were not working on stopping the leak, but simply capturing the oil.

After being told his ideas were under technical review, Caldart tweeted on June 14th, “just got an email from horizon [incident response] saying a similar plan to mine is being implemented, but thanks anyway…….. yeah right.”

Two months later they finally look at designs from people who work on broken pipes, and then they won’t give him the credit he deserves. We have oil on our beaches because the government has been trained to defer to corporations, and the corporations outsource everything.

Speaking of outsourcing, the Guardian reports that BP ordered the BOP worked on in China:

BP ordered the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig, whose explosion led to the worst environmental disaster in US history, to overhaul a crucial piece of the rig’s safety equipment in China, the Observer has learnt. The blow-out preventer – the last line of defence against an out-of-control well – subsequently failed to activate and is at the centre of investigations into what caused the disaster.

Experts say that the practice of having such engineering work carried out in China, rather than the US, saves money and is common in the industry.

To save money they shipped a device that weighs tons halfway around the world to people with unknown skills, rather than letting the company that built it overhaul it in Houston. This is why there was no accurate plan to use when the BOP failed, and no one knew what modifications were made.