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Sljslj 06-11-2010 03:28 PM

The f*ck!? Seriously!?
 
Oil spill? Just nuke it
Published Thursday June 10th, 2010

Nuke the Deepwater Horizon wellhead? The thought had occurred to me, over the past six weeks watching environmental catastrophe unfold in the Gulf of Mexico, that detonating a nuclear bomb at the oil well blowout site a mile below the water's surface could work where all other schemes so far have failed.

I figured there were probably all sorts of technical reasons why this was a fanciful notion, but it turns out not so much. Apparently the former Soviet Union (U.S.S.R.) used nuclear weapons on five separate occasions between 1966 and 1981 to successfully cap blown-out gas and oil surface wells (there was also one attempt that failed), which have been documented in a U.S. Department of Energy report on the U.S.S.R.'s peaceful uses of nuclear explosions.

Russia is now urging the United States to consider doing the same. Komsomoloskaya Pravda, the best-selling Russian daily newspaper, asserts that although based on Soviet experience there's a one-in-five chance a nuke might not seal the well, it's "a gamble the Americans could certainly risk."

Reportedly, the U.S.S.R. developed special nuclear devices explicitly for closing blown-out gas wells, theorizing that the blast from a nuclear detonation would plug any hole within 25 to 50 meters, depending on the device's power. Much as I had idly imagined, massive explosions can be employed to collapse a runaway well on itself, thus plugging, or at least substantially stanching, the flow of oil.

With no air present in underground or underwater nuclear explosions, energy released overheats and melts acres of surrounding rock into a glass-like, form-fitting plug, blocking the flow. Russian media reports also note that other subterranean nuclear blasts were used as many as 169 times in the Soviet Union for fairly mundane tasks like creating underground storage spaces for gas or building canals.

The downside, of course, is the release of radioactivity into the environment, affecting flora like phytoplankton and other marine organisms, including fish. However, those are already being severely impacted by release of oil, which if unchecked, could (and probably already has) caused more damage than would fallout from a nuclear blast. The U.S. DOE report suggests environmental risks would be relatively minimal, since the bulk of the radiation released would be far underground.

"Seafloor nuclear detonation is starting to sound surprisingly feasible and appropriate," University of Texas at Austin mechanical engineer Michael E. Webber is quoted observing, while Columbia University visiting scholar on nuclear policy and former naval officer Christopher Brownfield wrote in the Daily Beast: "We should have demolished this well with explosives over a month ago. And yet we watch in excruciating suspense while BP fumbles through plan after plan to recover its oil and cover its asset."

Mr. Brownfield criticizes U.S. President Obama's team of oil spill advisers as green on casualty response and susceptible to oil company coercion, contending that: "It would be far better for our president to pick up the red phone and call Vladimir Putin for a lesson on ninjapolitik than to leave BP in charge of the ineffectual plans that it's bringing to the table," and says Mr. Obama's opportunity to stop the spill quickly and heroically with a controlled demolition is slipping away.

Notwithstanding my misgivings about possible consequences of unleashing radiation, I'm becoming more and more convinced it could be a lesser evil than letting oil continue to gush despite British Petroleum's six weeks of serial ineffectual schemes to plug the flow.

Matt Simmons, founder of the energy investment bank Simmons & Company, told Bloomberg News that "Probably the only thing we can do is create a weapon system and send it down 18,000 feet and detonate it, hopefully encasing the oil."

Of course, the current U.S. administration is solidly Democratic, and a large, core Democrat Party constituency is rigidly and reflexively opposed to use of nukes. Then there's international politics. Blowing up a nuclear device in the Gulf would violate the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty at a time when President Obama is championing global nuclear disarmament. According to the New York Times, the Obama administration's stance on nuking the oil well has been: "absolutely not," a DOE spokeswoman confirming that the nuclear option never was, and is not, on the table.

Ideological and political hesitancy about using possibly the only means available to effectively plug the leak before at least August, when relief wells are completed, hopefully relieving pressure, could result in environmental tragedy of Biblical proportions reaching far beyond the U.S. Gulf coast. Last week, the National Center for Atmospheric Research released findings of a detailed computer modeling study projecting that oil from Deepwater Horizon could contaminate thousands of miles of the U.S. Atlantic coast and move out into mid-Atlantic as early as this summer.

Things are more than bad enough already, and oil continues escaping.
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Wow, that is quite possibly the stupidest thing I've ever heard. People keep mentioning the methane hydrates in the water and the obvious possible negatives of the combination of those and a nuke. If they do this, I officially have no faith in the government. BP has already stated that they are not considering this option, but the US government, on the other hand, is honestly thinking about it (atleast that is my understanding). And given that it seems the government will soon overtake BP's control of this situation::yikes:.

DearJenny 06-11-2010 03:59 PM

Doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. One in five chance of failure? Odds are horrible. I really hope this option isn't seriously considered.

Thrustin 06-11-2010 04:16 PM

Go for it!

mr dave 06-11-2010 04:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CityLightsLikeRain (Post 880963)
Doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. One in five chance of failure? Odds are horrible. I really hope this option isn't seriously considered.

you sure about that?

i'm quite certain if you polled random people on the street and asked them if they thought a 4 out of 5 chance to win the lotto was acceptable odds they'd be ALL OVER IT. if you keep reading past the headline it also mentions that the Russians have successfully used nukes underwater up to 169 times for more mundane purposes. 'failure' in this case means oil keeps flowing freely, not the ocean turns to fire.

this whole thing is getting ire because of the bogeyman of the N word and 3 eyed fish on The Simpsons. the biggest concern i see is the proximity to heavily populated areas and the potential effects on their potable water. then again, which is easier to clean, heavy water or crude?

so far all the plans have revolved around containing the spill in a way that the oil could continue to be exploited in the future. this one proposes to actually stop the flow of oil. which brings up the REAL question - Does anyone actually want to stop the flow of oil in the Gulf of Mexico?

DearJenny 06-11-2010 04:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mr dave (Post 880981)
you sure about that?

i'm quite certain if you polled random people on the street and asked them if they thought a 4 out of 5 chance to win the lotto was acceptable odds they'd be ALL OVER IT. if you keep reading past the headline it also mentions that the Russians have successfully used nukes underwater up to 169 times for more mundane purposes. 'failure' in this case means oil keeps flowing freely, not the ocean turns to fire.

this whole thing is getting ire because of the bogeyman of the N word and 3 eyed fish on The Simpsons.

so far all the plans have revolved around containing the spill in a way that the oil could continue to be exploited in the future. this one proposes to actually stop the flow of oil. which brings up the REAL question - Does anyone actually want to stop the flow of oil in the Gulf of Mexico?

My understanding is that the Russians never conducted these explosions underwater, and the cold metal would be unpredictable. We could end up in a worse situation.

http://www.salon.com/technology/how_...nuclear_option

Quote:

I'd hate to be the president who authorized a nuclear strike against an oil well and discover that the blast created numerous fractures in the seafloor that allowed even more oil and gas to escape. It seems to me that one might want to hold such a tactic in reserve as a last resort.

And then there are the worst-case scenarios -- such as the possibility that a nuclear explosion might ignite a chain reaction of methane hydrate eruptions that could result in the most horrific global catastrophe since the Permian extinction

The gulf coast has been through a lot of natural destruction in the last few years, I'd hate for it to go wrong and cause more distress.

Thrice 06-11-2010 04:53 PM

I heard about this on the radio the other morning. They didn't mention the failure, but I don't see any reason why not to try it. I live on the GC and would love for it to be stopped ASAP. I can't believe they have only tried a few stupid ideas so far.

DearJenny 06-11-2010 04:58 PM

It could just be my fear of nuclear holocaust talking, but it doesn't sound like a good idea to me.

LoathsomePete 06-11-2010 05:00 PM

Whooo yeah because if the oil spill as a cockslap to mother nature's face, then this is us skull fucking her.

Honestly though I read about this last week and from the fact that it's still being talked about makes me wonder if this is becoming a more feasible idea. I also read that the Russians had only conducted them on dry land, however reliable sources for this are becoming harder to find as the 'news' becomes more and more one sided on this issue. It needs to end now, but I don't think it's time to start discussing nuclear options, however if it finally comes down to it, then it may be what we have to do. I just hope that they try my option first, that is stuffing the leak with BP board members and maybe a few politicians as well.

Celladorina 06-11-2010 07:32 PM

I am sickened by BP's lack of attention to this issue, caused by them!

Cheese 06-12-2010 06:37 PM

I think that once the leak is capped the USA should send BP a clean up bill so great that it'll all but bankrupt them


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