The European Center for Nuclear Research may well find itself guilty and theoretically in the same deep water that BP found itself in over the safety and disaster procedures for Deep Water Horizon. However in the absence of a disaster no one seems to be bothered about the lies.
Back in April 2010 the blow out that occurred on the Deepwater Horizon rig resulted in a gas explosion, fire and the eventual sinking of the rig to the ocean floor a mile below the surface from where it and its fractured pipes continued for the next six months to pump oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Within days if not hours after the event it became apparent that BP was not only unprepared but had deliberately underplayed both the potential and the difficulty of subsequently dealing with such a disaster.
The investigation team concluded that there were weaknesses in cement design and testing, quality assurance and risk assessment and despite test indications identifying the poor integrity of barriers, Transocean rig crew and BP well site leaders came to the extraordinary opinion that well integrity had been established.
When well control later began to be lost and despite an increase in drill pipe pressure that was discernible in real-time it took some 40 minutes before the rig crew finally took any action. After failing to respond immediately BP crew then implemented the wrong control measures.
The investigation team further concluded that key members of the rig crew needed training and failed to demonstrate competency. An absence of a defined procedure for responding to a loss of control led to delays and incorrect measures being taken thus worsening the situation. Had the earlier test data been taken seriously or the correct measures been implemented following the blow out then the accident could have been avoided completely or bought far sooner under control with the consequences considerably reduced.
Perhaps the most critical aspect here was the failure to react to the earlier test data that had identified problems with the integrity of the cement used in the barriers. Had BP responded correctly then they would almost certainly have prevented the initial problem and Deepwater Horizon would still be an operating rig in the Gulf of Mexico.
However that fact would not have changed the contributing factors to the escalation of the disaster: chiefly the lack of training, competence or a properly defined procedure for dealing with a loss of control situation. Effectively Deepwater Horizon, as with all BP’s rigs, would still be operating without the means to deal with a disaster of this nature: an accident literally waiting to happen.
So what may you ask is the connection to CERN?
The simple answer is safety, safety reports and the data used to support them. What Deepwater Horizon teaches us is that when a large company or organization engages in potential dangerous or high risk activities it does not consider the disaster possibilities properly or design rigorous procedures and training programs to quickly and effectively deal with them.
Furthermore safety is dependent on the integrity of the data used to asses the risks. Those same risks must similarly be quantified in both terms of their potential likelihood and their extent should they be realized. With Deepwater Horizon BP failed to properly quantify both the potential and the extent of a loss of control situation. Much of their pre-disaster planning played down the risks and given the complete absence of a procedure for a loss of control situation it’s fair to assume that BP similarly discounted it as a possibility.
This situation is similarly mirrored by the operations and safety procedures for the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN which whilst having failed to generate a black hole and destroy the Earth has similarly failed to find the Higgs Boson leaving open the real possibility that it does not actually exist.
So why should that concern us? No black hole, no Higgs Boson no problem; right?
Wrong! Very very very wrong. Unfortunately CERN’s assurances, safety reports and procedures were based on the standard model being correct and if there is no Higgs Boson then the standard model is incorrect and CERN’s past assurance , safety reports and procedures carry about as much weight as the non-existent Higgs Boson.
Just as it took a loss of control event to reveal BP’s lack of preparation so it is likely that had CERN created a black hole, strangelet or other exotic particle then we too would have discovered the consequences of relying on poor procedures based on incorrect data: i.e. the standard model.
However unlike Deepwater Horizon which has caused devastation across the Gulf of Mexico CERN’s reliance on bad data could have led to a catastrophe of unparalleled magnitude. Now its all good and well saying they didn;t but the fact that they took the risk is no more acceptable than the drunk driver having got home without an accident claiming he has done no wrong. Only this drunk driver nearly crashed the Universe…
Should we again turn a blind eye to such blatant disregard for our health, safety and future just becauae its a big organisation filled with people who know a lot about a wrong theory? A theory they have invested so much in that they are prepared to risk the World in order to prove is correct rather than face the truth that they have it all wrong.
(this article was originally published at phasm.co.uk (turning a blue planet green on November 26th 2011. This blog exists to support the work of phasm.co.uk and is one of the few pro-active voices of decent on the net. Please help to keep such voices heard by sponsoring our work and help us to give you a brighter future)
official BP Deepwater Horizon Accident Investigations Report – (pdf)
BP Knew of Deepwater Horizon Safety Risks Almost a Year Ago – gizmodo
The economist: The Deepwater Horizon Report
what does a Higgless Universe mean for science?
Scientific America: a Higgs set back
Search for the Higgs. Does it exist?
New Science Review: Randall, CERN seek Higgs boson despite risk of planetary oblivion