Is the BP oil disaster like Katrina?

Yes – in one important, and catestrophic, end result. The City of New Orleans had a hurricane plan (captured one or two days after Katrina landfall – links are broken). US regulatory bodies also had a plan for a Gulf oil well leak or break. The main principle was to collect the surface oil with “burn booms” and simply burn the oil. This approach had been successfully tested many times going all the way back to before the Exxon-Valdez.

Both events are catestrophic disasters because no one worked the plans to make sure they could be executed. In both cases, writing the plan was just a hoop to be jumped through with no follow-up. Epic failure is the result! Writing a plan doesn’t mean you have a plan. There are plenty of boats on the Gulf Coast if someone had just made sure “burn booms” were available locally. Achieving the best outcome is all about logistics and preparation. In the case of the City of New Orleans, it was as if “The Plan” didn’t even exist.

Since today is the anniversary of the D-Day landings, the difference between writing a plan and working a plan, even one that doesn’t survive first contact, is obvious. For further reference see Sioux Gateway Airport and Flight 232.

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