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Anatomy of an Oil Rig Disaster

What happened in the Gulf of Mexico? What does it mean for offshore drilling? Plus, the latest on the Senate energy bill.

Fire boat response crews battle the remnants of the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon, 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana last Wednesday (AP/US Coast Guard)

There were funerals this week for the coal miners dead in West Virginia. But the active energy disaster this week is not underground, but offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.

On April 20, the gigantic offshore drilling rig the “Deepwater Horizon” – bigger than a football field, insured for half a billion dollars – exploded in a wild firestorm and sank in waters a mile deep.

Now, the tangled pipes from its ocean floor wellhead are leaking a thousand barrels of crude a day. And an oil slick of 1800 square miles is threatening the Gulf Coast.

This Hour, On Point: anatomy of an offshore drilling disaster.

Guests:

Doug Helton, incident operations coordinator for the NOAA Emergency Response Division. He’s analyzing the environmental impact of oil leaking from the sunken rig.

Aaron Viles, campaign director at the Gulf Restoration Network. He advocates for sustainable fisheries and habitat protection in the Gulf of Mexico.

Matteo Batista, a former lead field engineer with Weatherford International, an oil-drilling firm. He just finished a three-year tour, mostly on an offshore rig in the Gulf of Mexico, and is about to leave for his next assignment in Pennsylvania.

Bruce Tate, instructor at the Mewbourne School of Petroleum and Geological Engineering at the University of Oklahoma. He’s worked as a drilling manager for over 30 years, in 18 countries, both on and off shore and in deep water.

Later this hour:

We speak with Juliet Eilperin, national environmental reporter for the Washington Post, about the next steps for the stalled Senate climate/energy bill. You can read her latest article on Democrats’ behind-the-scenes moves to salvage that piece of legislation, following Sen. Lindsey Graham’s decision to withdraw his support for it.

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ONPOINT
TODAY
Oct 31, 2014
Nurse Kaci Hickox, right, and her boyfriend, Ted Wilbur are followed by a Maine State Trooper as they ride bikes on a trail near her home in Fort Kent, Maine, Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014.  (AP)

Quarantines and Ebola. An exploding rocket. Apple’s CEO comes out. Hawaiian lava flows. Midterms in the home stretch. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Oct 31, 2014
Doc Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) and Sauncho Smilax (Beninico del Toro) share a drink in a scene from the upcoming Paul Thomas Anderson film, "Inherent Vice," an adaptation of the Thomas Pynchon novel of the same name. (Courtesy Warner Bros. Entertainment)

from “Interstellar” to “Into the Woods.” The biggest and best movies of the fall and holiday seasons. What to see, what to skip.

RECENT
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Oct 30, 2014
Soylent is a new meal-replacement substance meant to offer a complete nutritional alternative to traditional food. (Courtesy Soylent)

Soylent is a grey smoothie the consistency of pancake batter that claims it can replace all your food. On a crowded planet, is this the future of food? Plus: what does the Antares rocket crash mean for private space travel?

 
Oct 30, 2014
Realtor Helen Hertz stands in front of one of her listings in Cleveland Heights, Ohio Friday, Oct. 24, 2014. Hertz, a real estate agent for more than three decades, has seen firsthand what has happened to the market in the wake of the recession and foreclosure crisis. (AP)

Home ownership rates are at a 20-year low. Millennials and more aren’t buying. We’ll look at what American’s think now about owning a home.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
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Thursday, Oct 30, 2014

So this whole quarantine thing — why to do it, when to do it, and when to just say no.

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The Explicast, Episode Two: Why Is Election Day On A Tuesday?
Friday, Oct 24, 2014

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Our Week In The Web: October 24, 2014
Friday, Oct 24, 2014

On comments, comment sections, and ROY G BIV.

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