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Updated on July 26, 2010


My fellow hubbers we have heard much in the news lately about the concept of  “failsafe”, and I am here to tell you there is no such thing on this Earth as failsafe. Anything or any endeavor partaken by humans is capable of failing. During my time in industry I had many managers tell me to make something failsafe or foolproof. Trying to do so is a fool’s errand and I told them so at the time. All humans and anything they manufacture are capable of failing in a catastrophic manner. If anyone tries to tell you different they are insane. The concept of “failsafe” is not based on zero failures but on limiting damage once failure has occurred.



This most recent catastrophe in The Gulf of Mexico is a prime example of lack of common sense in the application of the concept of “failsafe’. The entire philosophy that a single mechanical device called a “Blowout Preventer” could avert a huge oil spill is sheer madness. This is a huge example of the misapplication of the concept of failsafe. There must be contingency plans readily available to limit environmental damage or damage to people or property when the primary device eventually fails, as all man made devices eventually will. This misapplication of the principal of failsafe can be fatal to people and animals as well as plants. The whole ecological system sustains unfixable damage when proper principals are not applied.


Folks you know I’m not a tree hugger I’m just using my engineering knowledge along with common sense. So you ask Ok what would you do Tom?


First off at this time I don’t have a clue what to do. I do know that before any deep-sea wells had been drilled I would have asked the proper questions of the experts. I’ll bet this was done and ignored both by industry and government because they both had something to gain. Money rules the roost in every case. Well now how much will it cost to clean up the mess that’s made because the proper questions and answers weren’t acquired????????

You don’t have to be an expert to know that if people can’t get to the source of a leak a mile deep in the ocean it’s unlikely to get it to stop. Build them on land where they belong and leave the deep-sea stuff to the aquatic life.

Mark my words we will find out this question of accessibility was questioned long, long ago and blown off by toads who didn’t take proper precautions!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I don’t think I am telling you anything new about human fallibility as we have a witnessed it many times. It truly is a matter of common sense. I guess common sense is in short supply today but we have all shown it in our daily lives. We all keep our loved ones from putting themselves in jeopardy just like keeping our children away from open flame. This is a common sense solution to limiting damage to our loved ones. We have use for fire but we try to limit the damage it can do by using common sense in its use and where we use it.

Remember Three Mile Island!!!!!!!!!!!!

Remember Chernobyl !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now we have the Gulf!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  1. Determine the cause of the blowout preventer failure.
  2. Work diligently on devices to allow people to go to great depths in the ocean for maintenance of equipment.
  3. No new drilling until steps one and two are accomplished.
  4. Very strict maintenance regimen on existing wells. They can’t just be abandoned the hole is already there.
  5. More oil production on land.
  6. Greater use of natural gas and coal. I don’t trust nuclear after Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. There is the possibility for unlimited damage.
  7. Eventually develop alternative energy when feasible.


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    • Tom Whitworth profile image

      Tom Whitworth 8 years ago from Moundsville, WV

      No problem Wendy.

    • profile image

      Wendy Haylo 8 years ago

      Thank you for your response, I am sorry if I overstepped the boundaries of the hub.

    • Tom Whitworth profile image

      Tom Whitworth 8 years ago from Moundsville, WV

      Wendy Haylo,

      You are going way beyond the scope of this hub. I am approaching the concept of failsafe from an engineering prospective which is based on my educational and professional background.

      If you want to exercise wild biological speculation this is the wrong place to do so and further attempts will be deleted.

    • profile image

      Wendy Haylo 8 years ago

      Thank you for taking the time to reply. At this point I have read that there are more huge cracks in the gulf floor bottom. It is difficult for me to believe that a relatively small explosion or accidental leak could have caused them. I do not think we know the whole story, maybe we never will. Maybe there was an earthquake, who knows? Bigger news stories have been suppressed.

      And, yes, humans can and do adapt to most anything. Nature has adapted at Chernobyl and Hiroshima, and will continue to adapt forever, no matter what we do or do not do. Who knows? Maybe this will spur someone to discover better ways to use the petroleum products we already have access to, or let scientists develop the 150 mpg engines I have heard about for decades.

      Here are a couple of .gov links on how petroleum products can be healing.

    • Tom Whitworth profile image

      Tom Whitworth 8 years ago from Moundsville, WV

      Wendy Haylo,

      Mother Nature did not manufacture the blow out preventer. If Mother Nature wanted oil in the Gulf there would have been and earth quake.

      Are we adapting to eating sea food contaminated by oil?

    • profile image

      Wendy Haylo 8 years ago

      What if the oil leak is Mother Nature's failsafe? I mean, if something or someone (think humankind) is trying to destroy the earth, spilling the oil may just save it. Also, oil is a natural part of the earth, why are we thinking it is so bad? Nature will take care of itself...if we let it. We will adapt.

    • Tom Whitworth profile image

      Tom Whitworth 8 years ago from Moundsville, WV


      I agree with your conclusion. We must drill when men can maintain and repair the facilites. Look how fast we put out the fires in Kuwait and plugged the wells after the Gulf War in 1991.

    • Vladimir Uhri profile image

      Vladimir Uhri 8 years ago from HubPages, FB

      Tom, I just think it is disaster. In the first place I blame environmentalist, and second the politicians who listen to them.

      If we drill on dry land this disaster would not happen.

      Thank you for this hub.

    • Tom Whitworth profile image

      Tom Whitworth 8 years ago from Moundsville, WV


      I also think land is better. Once the oil escapes into the water it's very difficult to clean the mess up.

    • cjv123 profile image

      Carol 8 years ago from Michigan

      I agree Tom -we have plenty places on land we can drill - at least for now - what a mess...WHAT A MESS! Thanks for bringing some common sense into the discussion!

    • Tom Whitworth profile image

      Tom Whitworth 8 years ago from Moundsville, WV


      Thank you for your kind comments. I think they are safer on land also.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 8 years ago from United States

      Tom, This is an excellent article that makes a lot of sense. Here we are 5 weeks + since the explosion and we are hoping that the mud will work today. If they could drive in more swallow water it would be safer also. With 5 miles of water that is asking for trouble. People are so afraid they will see the oil rigs never taking into account the curvature of the earth limits the distance we can see. I like your suggestion of drilling for oil and gas on land. Very good hub.

    • Tom Whitworth profile image

      Tom Whitworth 8 years ago from Moundsville, WV


      I agree with your point on foreign nations drilling in the Gulf. I'm against all drilling in the Gulf until men can maintain the wells. Until then drill on the ground where the wells can be maintained safely.

    • eovery profile image

      eovery 8 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

      What ticks me off is all of these are foreign nations drilling in our gulf of Mexica area. We can't drill there, why are we giving permits out to foreign nations. What is wrong with this picture?

      Keep on hubbing!

    • Tom Whitworth profile image

      Tom Whitworth 8 years ago from Moundsville, WV

      sheila b.

      You may just be right. It's very tough to separate the wheat from the chaf. It's also very tough to speak truth to power.

      Arrogance thy name be failsafe!!!!!!!!!!

      Thank you shelia b. for your visit and comment.

    • Tom Whitworth profile image

      Tom Whitworth 8 years ago from Moundsville, WV


      The what ifs is what it's all about during the engineering process. We must always think of the possibilties and all the outcomes before we kill a lot of the ecoligical species. Mankind must bear that burdon.

      Thank you for the complimentary comment.

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 8 years ago

      It's my idea that right now there are people with good ideas about how to cap the well and how to protect our seacoasts, but no one will listen. Way up there on the top of the ladder, above the clouds, there is no common sense, but they're not about to listen to someone on a lower rung.

    • profile image

      SusanP 8 years ago

      This whole thing makes me very sad for the earth and for all living creatures.

      You've opened my eyes to man's stupidity. We build all kinds of

      potentially dangerous things to help our physical lives be 'better' yet we

      don't take it a step further by putting in the 'failsafes' for the what-ifs.

      Thanks for another good hub, Tommy.

    • Tom Whitworth profile image

      Tom Whitworth 8 years ago from Moundsville, WV


      I agree we must take heed of the Word of the Lord. We are stewards of this Earth we don't own it outright it's His!!!!!!!!!!

    • 50 Caliber profile image

      50 Caliber 8 years ago from Arizona

      NUKE the oil leak! Heck that's what we made them big assed bombs for, when common sense don't work just blow it up! I hope you know I'm kidding. How many hurricanes has it gone through? Why would you drill in an area prone to severe storms of a magnitude that surely have thrown stress on the rig? Greed, it's the root of mishaps like this. Americans scream for more gasoline and don't want to have to pay for it. So a budget rig is thrown in place. The investors want small outlay and big returns. I got an e-mail from a fellow I know, he's in California and crying over his stock losses in his money invested in that very rig. He is probably down to his first cash investment, his worries are about money loss, not what the damages are going to be. I replied in the largest font I could get in bright red, "ROTFLMAO" and that was all, I hope he knows internet code, he cares not for this world, only his bank account. That line of thought got us here to start out with. Coveting is the other sin committed, folks want oil from every place but out of "our" dirt, use up every one elses and then use ours. Funny part is, none that think like this will even be alive when "ours" runs out.There were plenty of places to sink a rig on dry ground and still are. Drive around oil fields and look at the rigs that are idle, if they fired them up would they have needed that rig in the first place?

      Revelations 8: 8The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, 9a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.

      verse 8: 13As I watched, I heard an eagle that was flying in midair call out in a loud voice: "Woe! Woe! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the trumpet blasts about to be sounded by the other three angels!"

      I doubt this is the time, but I believe this time is coming. 50

    • Tom Whitworth profile image

      Tom Whitworth 8 years ago from Moundsville, WV


      I started my career in the power industry and I was huge advocate for nuclear power. I changed my mind after TMI. Risk management tells me the possible losses just arent't worth the risk encountered.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 8 years ago

      Given how incapable we seem to be in dealing with this spill, I can only imagine what would happen if there was a leak at a nuclear facility. I don't have the confidence and faith I used to have that "we" knew the right way to go about dealing with catastrophe. Just look at Katrina.

    • Tom Whitworth profile image

      Tom Whitworth 8 years ago from Moundsville, WV


      The possibility for fatality was very imminant, and there is also increased incidence of cancer downwind ot TMI. Also there is no disposal solution for nuclear waste.

      I don't want to be France!!!!!!!

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 8 years ago from Ohio, USA

      No one was harmed at TMI. The radiation exposure rate in the area was trivial, not even exceeding background levels in most cases. Nuklar power is safe. Shucks, even France builds nuke plants.


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