Oil gushing from the 12 inch riser pipe on the sea floor, almost 5,000ft down. Image: BP
Update: BP Gulf Oil Spill Cheat Sheet: A Timeline of Unfortunate Events
BREAKING: The pressure from citizens, the media, and politicians must have got to BP, because they finally released a video from the gushing oil leak! Check it out below (at the end of the post).
Independent Scientists and Engineers Need Access to This Video!
It has become clear that BP has been monitoring the gushing oil leaks in the Gulf of Mexico almost from the start, and that if they wanted to they could release video to show people what is really going on. But so far they have kept tight control over access to the video feeds and all that we could get our hands on are those still images showing the leak (notice the depth on the left: 4957.5 feet!).
What are they hiding from us?
While BP might claim that its priority is to stop the leaks, its actions speak otherwise. If they really wanted to stop this as quickly and effectively as possible, they would grant access to all the data they have to independent scientists and engineers. What if someone who isn't working at BP could help? What about all those with expertise in deep water drilling and oil spill containment that work for other oil companies? Shouldn't they have access to the best information available?
If this had happened on land, would an oil company be able to keep the general public from seeing video of the disaster? People have a right to know what is going on, but BP denying access to useful and relevant information. Is it possible that if experts could see this video, they would be able to better estimate the flow-rate and might find out that there's more oil leaking than the official estimate?
Throughout the clean-up effort, BP has monitored the spill site around the clock using submarine-mounted cameras at the mouth of the spill. An official at Oceaneering International, the company that operates the submarines under a contract with BP, told ABC News he "could walk right down the hall and watch it, but I can't share it without BP's express permission."
Eric Smith, a professor at Tulane University's Energy Institute said that footage could help in making independent assessments of the scope of the spill. But it also could do public relations damage to BP. It has remained closely guarded and cannot be made public under the argument that it is "proprietary," according to Coast Guard officials who have received repeated requests to release the images. (source)
Video of a Robot Working on the Riser Pipe
We can kind of see the leak on the video above, but not very well (around the 2:08 point). That's probably on purpose. But based on the first still picture at the top of this post, it's clear that if BP wanted to, it could release video where we clearly see oil gushing out of the riser pipe. They are probably keeping tight control of these images because they could become yet another iconic representation of this disaster, kind of like this photo by the U.S. Coast Guard:
Photo: US Coast Guard, public domain.
or this photo by an astronaut on board the International Space Station:
Photo: NASA, public domain.
UPDATE: Here is the video of the oil leak that BP has just released. Note how the oil changes color around the middle of the video. Maybe this is because the ratio of methane to liquid oil changes?
Thanks to Kevin at EnergyBoom Policy for the tip!
Want to Help?
If you want to volunteer to help clean up the oil spill or help in some other way, check out the bottom of this post for phone numbers and links to the websites of organisations that are working on the ground to help clean up this mess.
Another good thing to do would be to contact your elected representatives and let them know what you think of all this. Someone has got to counter-balance all those oil-industry lobbyists...
May 27th Update: 'Top Kill' Attempt to Plug Oil Leak is Working, Says Coast Guard Admiral
Update: NASA Captures First Photos of Massive 'Arm' of Oil Slick (Hundreds of Miles Long)
Update 2: Will a Rough Hurricane Season Worsen the BP Oil Spill?
Via ABC, Jedreport
More on the BP Oil Spill
70,000 Barrels or 5,000? What Did BP Know and When Did They Know It?
Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill: The What, When and Where
What are BP's Options to Stop the Oil Leaks? What are the Chances of Success?
Clever Fake BP T-Shirt: "We're bringing oil to American shores."
Rush Limbaugh on the BP Oil Spill: "It's as natural as the ocean water is."