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Environmental impacts of industrial accidents

Nicole King’s experience as an environmental engineer in the off-shore oil fields allows her to pose the key questions revealed by recent ecological disasters through her paintings.

Recent environmental disasters

April 2010 : Gulf of Mexico, North and South America

BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion at the Macondo well: largest offshore oil spill ever (60,000 barrels/day released for 3 months) Ref. Coal 2010 project by Nicole King.

The magnitude of the release of four million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico should have led to the imposition of non-negotiable international rules through a monitoring body under the auspices of the United Nations.

However, the impacts have been minimised and the visual media coverage has been very limited.
Editorial of Courrier de la Nature no 256 Sept-Oct 2010 “One year on, the tide is still black”.

British Petroleum, in order to satisfy our ever-growing energy needs, continues to drill ever deeper. The responsibility for the disaster lies not only with technical failures but also with political decisions conditioned by our lifestyle to the detriment of respect for the environment. (See also Arne Naess, philosopher of Deep Ecology).

Our economy and our lifestyle must urgently integrate long-term environmental impacts.

The Deepwater Horizon disaster would not have happened if the BOP (Blow Out Preventer) had been better sized and in good working order.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

March 2, 2011, Fukushima, Japan

Loss of control of nuclear reactors at the Fukushima plant (16 billion billion becquerels washed up at sea since June 2011, more than 180,000 people permanently displaced) Ref. biblio. Libération of 19 March 2013 p. 19 “Fukushima, irradiation à flot continu”.

In Japan, in March 2011 the tsunami wave overtook the surrounding wall to drown the electrical circuits of the cooling system of the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Irresponsible political decision-makers have allowed nuclear reactors to be built in a highly seismic area, which have now become totally uncontrollable: the continuous release of radionuclides into the Pacific Ocean over the last ten years constitutes a global risk and demonstrates once again the sacrifice of the safety of the population and the environment for the benefit of short-term economics.

March 25, 2012, North Sea

Explosion of the Elgin gas platform: release of 200,000 m3 of gas/day for 3 months, then partial plugging until release stopped in October 2012. Ref. biblio. Le Monde of 8 March 2013, P.13 “Total can resume gas extraction on Elgin”.

Since Deepwater Horizon, no lessons have really been learned from this disaster, since the oil sector has not been penalised to the extent that the environmental stakes are high.

In the North Sea, it was Total’s turn to lose control of a gas well for six months.

Such disasters highlight the issue of decision-making: neither scientists, nor politicians, nor the invisible hand of the economic market are up to the task of preventing the recurrence of such events. We cannot wait for the occurrence of irreversible imbalances to stimulate the critical thinking and innovative ideas needed to invent new systems that are both mediating and regulating and respectful of nature.

Artistic expression has a revealing role to play; the artist shows the tensions of his time. I have chosen painting which integrates the lived time and stimulates the viewer who will take the time to penetrate the painted work and thus deepen his reflection on the current ecological crisis.