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Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Missing Blowout Preventer Switch [Today's News Poem, December 26, 2010]

The Missing Blowout Preventer Switch [Today's News Poem, December 26, 2010]

The buses are whining while winter is raining;
A mother is walking her daughter on Christmas.
They're hurrying, filling their hands with each other—
All washed with florescents and streetlamps and evening.
They're hurrying into a crevice of shadow.
A doorway, like others, with keys—like another's—
A sink to remove all the germs of the city,
A bed with the linens of peace and a playpen
Of toys; and a lingering presence—a haunting
Perhaps, or a memory. Maybe it's terror,
Or maybe it's sorrow—that smell has such power
I smell it while driving, with windows rolled up.
I reach for a button, a lever, a trigger
To vanquish the awfulness hovering over
Their heads... it's my head; and their halo my halo.
Their bed is my bed and their corners, my corners.
I'm so disconcerted—where is the button
To cease this disaster, stop this machinery?

"As the drilling team was trying to shut in the well, Paul Erickson, the chief mate on the Damon B. Bankston, a 262-foot work vessel moored to the Horizon, noticed something spilling off the rig. Then drilling fluids began cascading onto the ship. Dead seagulls fell, killed by the blowout’s blast. The Bankston’s captain radioed the Horizon’s bridge and was told to move to a safe distance.
In the engine control room, Doug Brown and his men overheard the conversation with the Bankston on their radios. Within arm’s reach was a console that gave them access to the emergency shutdown system. All they had to do was lift a plastic cover and hit a button and the engines would shut down in seconds. It was not such an easy or obvious step to take."
—DAVID BARSTOW, DAVID ROHDE and STEPHANIE SAUL, The New York Times, Published: December 25, 2010

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