Acoustic Switches, Oil Spills and Wikipedia Experts

The Daily Beast’s Rick Outzen is like a dog with a bone. Rick (along with a legion of other self-imagined experts on the ‘net) is getting a lot of mileage out of the notion that an acoustic switch (see diagram below the fold) might have averted disaster on the Deepwater Horizon:


We know that the Deepwater well lacked the remote-control, acoustical valve [sic] that experts believe would have shut off the well when the blowout protector [sic] failed. The acoustic trigger costs about $500,000.  [emphasis added]

“Experts believe”? Link, please?

The blind/shear rams, the ‘business end’ of the BOP failed, presumably jammed; how would an alternate switching device have closed them? We have all seen the video of the ROV attempting to operate the rams manually (well, sort of) to no effect. Does your “acoustical valve” work by magic?

As far as I can tell, the acoustic switch has only been tested in simulation, never in a real emergency. All deepwater contractors are required to use redundant shut-in systems on their rigs, a system that has proven itself reliable for years, up until the Deepwater Horizon. blowout. The reason that one failed has yet to be determined.

The environmental lawyer in the linked video refers to the acoustic switch as a “fail-safe”. Ain’t no such thing, sport, and that’s the kind of thinking that gets people in trouble.

Cross-posted at VladEnBlog.


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