Free lecture to consider lessons learned at Deepwater Horizon

By Staff
Deepwater Horizon

Deepwater Horizon, April 2010

The University of Colorado Boulder will host a free public lecture illuminating the lessons learned from the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion that killed 11 workers and resulted in the largest accidental oil spill in U.S. history.

“What Happened at Deepwater Horizon?” will be presented from 6:30 to 9 p.m., Jan. 26,  in the Mathematics Building auditorium, room 100.

Donald Winter – former secretary of the Navy, professor of engineering practice at the University of Michigan and chair of the National Academies committee that wrote a report on the Deepwater Horizon accident – will be the first of two guest speakers.

Issued last month, the report points to multiple flawed decisions leading to the blowout and explosion, and calls for a new “system safety” approach to anticipating and managing possible dangers at every level of operation.

A second guest speaker will be Paul Hsieh, a research hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey who was named 2011 Federal Employee of the Year. Hsieh performed the crucial calculations on pressure that deemed it safe to cap the oil well in mid-July without causing it to rupture from beneath the seabed and result in a bigger disaster.

Two CU-Boulder environmental engineering faculty who have been researching the aftermath of the incident also will present their findings at the event. Fernando Rosario-Ortiz will discuss the environmental fate of dispersants used in the disaster response and Alina Handorean will present information on air quality impacts of the oil spill.

“I was really jarred by this event because it was so preventable,” said event co-organizer Jana Milford, professor and director of the Environmental Engineering Program at CU-Boulder. “By learning more about what happened, I think we can encourage a stronger culture around safety.”

The event is presented by the College of Engineering and Applied Science, the BOLD Center, the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Environmental Engineering Program.

For more information or to request accommodations for disabilities, call 303-492-4774.