Comparing the Chilean Miners’ Rescue to the BP Oil Spill


“Watching the miraculous rescue of the Chilean miners, though, I was struck by the similarity with the efforts to cap BP’s runaway Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico this summer,” says Loren Stefffy in the Houston Chronicle. What do those two disasters have in common with each other? “Both were unprecedented efforts that required drilling far below the Earth’s surface in a race against time,” Steffy says. What other comparisons are columnists making between the two stories that commanded international attention this summer?

It took a miracle: Capping the Deepwater Horizon rupture was no easy task, says a Chicago Tribune editorial. “It was a technical feat so difficult that it was compared to hitting a target the size of a dinner plate with a drill more than two miles into the earth.” But they pulled it off. We saw that kind of precision this week, too, when the maker of the drill bit blasting through rock to rescue the miners said, “You’re either a hero or zero at the end.” Both efforts took “Grit. Persistence. Technological prowess.”

American innovation saves us again: “When a catastrophe like this occurs–others that come to mind are the BP well blowout, Hurricane Katrina, various disasters in China–a government has all its chips pushed to the center of the table,” says Daniel Henninger in The Wall Street Journal. Chile made it out safely thanks to American support, particularly that of the “74-person outfit in Berlin, Pa., whose high-tech drill bit opened the earth to free them.” We fixed things as usual.

Obama should learn from this: During the BP oil spill aftermath, Obama was “slow to react,” says David Swerdlick at NPR. And he’s been absent at other times too. When the Chile miners were rescued, Chile’s president Sebastian Pinera turned “an event that was pretty much an engineering problem into a source of national pride.” We need to see our leader on the scene at events like this one. Nothing compares at times like this to a president being there “in person to take some credit.”

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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