By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Tag: oil spill

The disaster that may be corroding in your cellar

Photo (cc) 2012 by limecools

One afternoon more than 25 years ago I was talking with the late Boston Globe columnist David Nyhan. I mentioned to him that we were buying a three-family house in Topsfield as a rental property. He warned me about new state septic-system regulations. I didn’t pay much attention.

I should have. Several years later, after a heavy rainstorm, the septic system failed, and we had to replace it. As I recall, it cost us $50,000. We sold the house and vowed to stay out of the rental market from that point on.

I thought about that this morning when I read the horrifying story of Emmaline and Brian Proctor, whose new home in Wareham became a financial disaster when their oil tank leaked. According to the Globe’s Sean Murphy, state-mandated cleanup will cost them more than $185,000, and their homeowners insurance doesn’t cover it. Murphy writes:

Under strictly enforced state environmental laws, the Proctors are now responsible for removing contamination caused by the spill. That means their contractor must excavate at least 10 feet under the house to test the soil and remove contaminated portions. And to do that, the contractor must temporarily lift the house off its foundation for access.

Yow! This could happen to any of us with oil heat. The oil tank in our current house started leaking within a week or two of our moving in seven years ago. There was little spillage, fortunately, and I remember being peeved that we had to spend $700 on a new tank. Now I realize it could have been much, much worse.

As Murphy writes, coverage for such disasters should be mandatory. And something should be done to help unsuspecting homeowners like the Proctors, who face financial disaster for a problem that was not of their making.

At long last, Obama unites America

In my latest for the Guardian, I take the temperature of the commentariat and find that President Obama’s Oval Office speech on the oil gusher had something for everyone to loathe, regardless of ideology.

A political speech that fell short

I wasn’t sure why President Obama decided to deliver his first Oval Office speech on the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. I’m even less sure now. If he had been in the habit of giving regular White House news conferences, this would have been an ideal occasion for him to make a 10-minute statement and take questions. Instead, he raised expectations and failed to meet them. It was an entirely political speech, driven by perceived political need.

Understand that I’m talking about rhetoric, not reality. In fact, I don’t have a huge problem with the way the federal government has responded for two simple reasons: It didn’t cause the explosion, and it can’t stop the gusher. Those are the facts. Everything else pales in importance.

I’ll be rounding up media reaction for the Guardian tomorrow morning. No doubt the right will hammer him. Based on the initial reaction of Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews and Howard Fineman on MSNBC, it looks like liberals are going to hammer him as well. It’s going to be an interesting morning.

Go Celtics!

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