Could fireboats have sunk the oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico?

News and commentary about environmental issues.
May 6 2010 6:57 PM

Did Fireboats Sink the Oil Rig?

Some clues from a maritime disaster in February 1942.

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Transocean and BP, the companies that owned and leased the Deepwater Horizon, have declined to discuss what may have contributed to the sinking. In time, the investigation may determine that the sinking of the oil rig was inevitable after the April 20 explosion. But it would be shortsighted to discount the possibility that our initial response to the disaster contributed to its enormous scale. An oil slick of historic size is now threatening to devastate the marine environment from Louisiana to Florida. We all have a stake in understanding what happened to prevent anything like it from ever happening again.

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Bryce Hall lives in New Haven, Conn. A gallery of his photographs of unexpected images of the U.S. flag following 9/11 was previously published in Slate.