Lots of questions surrounding oil spill

May 17, 2010 1:24:38 PM PDT
It's more than a bit shocking that there isn't a back up plan for these giant oil companies that drill deep into the ocean floor. Shocking from any perspective as a business hoping to keep costs down and planning for worst case scenarios, and as a government that's supposed to be a watchdog for the public interest.

So both shareholders in BP and citizens of the U.S. should be asking the obvious questions. Why was there no fail-safe plan? Why has it taken so long to, finally, start to contain some of the 5,000 barrels a day (some estimates put it at 10 times that amount) that are leaking into the Gulf? And why is BP's financial exposure to legal claims limited to less than $100 million?

A perfect storm of good luck favorable winds and tides and weather, combined with the use of booms to corral some of the oil has meant that no catastrophe has come ashore yet. While it's nice to be optimistic, it's simply not realistic to believe that this huge oil leak will not unleash widespread environmental damage.

One of the large plumes of oil found by scientists in the Gulf measures 10 miles long, 3 miles wide, and 300 feet thick.

Not coincidentally, the Interior Department official who oversees offshore oil and gas drilling, is resigning, although the administration calls it "retiring."

(As a side note I remember going to the beach as a kid in Southern California, where oil rigs were everywhere, and coming back with globs of tar on my feet. At the time I thought that's just what happens at the beach! Let's hope the next generation of kids in the Gulf and in Florida don't experience the same thing.)

We'll have the latest on the oil spill, tonight at 11.

Also at 11, and speaking of government failures, our investigative reporter Jim Hoffer takes a disturbing look at the rash of rip-offs at TSA screening checkpoints at JFK Airport. For some screeners, clearly, it's just too tempting to be handling all the jewelry and computers, and sometimes even cash that they find in the bags they inspect.

But it's outrageous that some of the people who are in charge of making sure explosives and dangerous people don't get onboard airplanes are in fact ripping off passengers.

And where are the screeners for these screeners? Are the people in charge of airport security qualified to work security any where else?

It's a question Jim is looking at tonight, at 11.

And just by coincidence, word this afternoon, that Pres. Obama plans to nominate John Pistole, now the deputy director of the FBI, to become head of the TSA.

And we're following developments in that horrible crash over the weekend that killed two off-duty NYPD officers. They met four young women at a party and were driving on the Bronx River Parkway when they went out of control and crashed. The two cops were killed, and the four young women are in critical condition. What caused the crash? Mechanical failure? Driver error? Was alcohol involved? We're awaiting the autopsy.

But no matter what the results it may be a good time to remind your kids to not get into the car with a driver they suspect may be under the influence.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11, right after 20/20.

BILL RITTER


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