Nuke That Oil Well

Back on May 4:

As BP prepares to lower a four-story, 70-ton dome over the oil gusher under the Gulf of Mexico, the Russians — the world’s biggest oil producers — have some advice for their American counterparts: nuke it. Komsomoloskaya Pravda, the best-selling Russian daily, reports that in Soviet times such leaks were plugged with controlled nuclear blasts underground. …

The Soviet Union, a major oil exporter, used this method five times to deal with petrocalamities. The first happened in Uzbekistan, on September 30, 1966 with a blast 1.5 times the strength of the Hiroshima bomb and at a depth of 1.5 kilometers. KP also notes that subterranean nuclear blasts were used as much as 169 times in the Soviet Union to accomplish fairly mundane tasks like creating underground storage spaces for gas or building canals.

These kinds of surgical strikes to shut off underground leaks, however, were carried out only five times, with the last one occuring in 1979. And there was only one misfire, near Kharkov, Ukraine, where a nuclear blast was unable to stanch a gas leak. Happily, with a track record like that, “the chances of failure in the Gulf of Mexico are 20%,” KP writes. “The Americans could certainly risk it.”

Makes sense to me. Seems a low risk of fire or of a radioactivity release of comparable harm to the oil pollution. The Christian Science Monitor agreed May 13. On May 24 it looked like we might see reason:

President Obama has stepped in and has sent a team of nuclear experts to contain the spill. The man in charge to contain the spill is Steven Chu, U.S. Energy Secretary and also the one who helped develop the first hydrogen bomb in the 50s. The five member multidisciplinary team are a creative lot involved in the first hydrogen bomb, finding ways to mine in Mars and ways to position biomedical needles. The team will work along with BP’s scientist to find a solution. Meeting at BP’s crisis centre in Houston, Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward said after the meeting, ‘lots of nuclear physicists and all sorts of people coming up with some quite good ideas actually.’

Alas, Today’s Post:

The failure of traditional well-killing methods may also heighten the pressure on authorities to try unconventional approaches. Simmons, for example, suggests a military takeover of the whole operation, and possibly even an attempt to seal the well with an explosive device.

Allen, the national incident commander, dismissed the idea. “My view is since we don’t know the condition of that well bore or the casings, I would be cautious about putting any kind of kinetic energy on that well head,” Allen said, “because what you may do is create open communication between the reservoir and the sea floor.”

Seems caution isn’t working so well now.  [Added: And it is hard to believe the well bore or casings matter much - it is the kinds of rock/mud/etc. near the hole that matter.]  Alas, also seems Obama has decided the nuke option is politically unpalatable.   Sure BP deserves blame for the spill itself, but doesn’t anti-nuke political correctness deserve lots of blame for our reluctance to stop the spill?

More:

One prominent energy expert known for predicting the oil price spike of 2008 says sending a small nuclear bomb down the leaking well is “probably the only thing we can do” to stop the leak. Matt Simmons, founder of energy investment bank Simmons & Company, also says that there is evidence of a second oil leak about five to seven miles from the initial leak that BP has focused on fixing. That second leak, he says, is so large that the initial one is “minor” in comparison.

Obama seems to have avoided getting involved in fixing this spill, for fear of being tarred with its failures.  May 28:

Obama … said that his administration is doing all it can, but that, when it comes to plugging the leak, “the federal government does not possess superior technology to BP.”

But I’ll bet BP doesn’t have nukes. If nukes are the answer, then leaving the fix to BP has definitely made things worse.

Added 31May:

The Russian television channel RT described how Soviet authorities used underground nuclear explosions to seal off leaking gas pipes. The idea is that the explosion shears the leak closed for good. “That’s not something we’re considering. It would be far too risky,” said BP’s MacEwen. (more)

They don’t explain what risk they have in mind.

Added 3June:  Yesterday National Review had an article favoring the nuke option. The NYT had article “Nuclear Option on Gulf Oil Spill? No Way, U.S. Says.”

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  • Robert Koslover

    I predict that we will not use a nuclear bomb to seal the well. It doesn’t matter whether it might work or not. It simply isn’t going to happen.

  • Martin

    There’s too much oil left to just destroy the well head and the surrounding area. They’ll let it continue to leak so they can cap it in a way that will allow them to re-drill it.

  • Jeff

    The folks over at The Oil Drum, who are the closest to experts I’ve seen on the internet, have said repeatedly in the comments that the geology isn’t right. A nuclear bomb is used some distance away from the well to push the entire rock structure over, closing the well. From what they’ve said, the rock structure around the Deepwater Horizon is of a type where the bomb would more likely make many fissures that would create new leaks.

    I realize you’re just trying to talk about how politics interferes with the best possible option, but it is possible that this didn’t get to the level of considering the politics.

  • http://hanson.gmu.edu Robin Hanson

    Martin, no way a nuke would prevent them from drilling a new hole.

    Jeff, the only discussions I found of nukes there is this. See anything better?

  • Mordy

    It’s weird that you call anti-Nuclear sentiment PC. I suspect that unlike particular offensive words, or racial tropes, which people feel uncomfortable around because they are afraid of being hurtful, people are against Nuclear energy because they are afraid of being actually hurt. A lot of the rhetoric around PC is disdain that people care so much about what other people think about them. But anti-Nuclear sentiment seems very personal, and divorced from social considerations and mores. I’d suggest that the reason this isn’t being considered more seriously isn’t due to people feeling politically correct, but due to a series of real and imagined events (Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, The China Syndrome) that frightfully loom in the public conscious. Unlike regular political correct stances which can be mediated, discussed, and reconsidered, it’s hard to argue with someone’s nightmares.

    • mike russell

      The yield of the weapon and its displacement are low. It is also not thermonuclear. Battlefield nukes are old school. Also the cover of being the correct geostructure is just that, a cover. The structure is optimal for a kiloton class blast. It is not politically optimal to blow it. But they will have few choices soon as what they are attempting is not going to work. The damage from this leak is a magnitude greater then a single blast would have been weeks ago.

  • http://t-a-w.blogspot.com/ Tomasz Wegrzanowski

    None of them were deep underwater explosions from what I know, so it’s not obvious it’s an appropriate reference class.

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  • http://timtyler.org/ Tim Tyler

    Am not sure being on Simmons’s side is a good thing:

    “Simmons said the US government should immediately take the effort to plug the leak out of the hands of BP and put the military in charge.

    “Probably the only thing we can do is create a weapons system and send it down 18,000 feet and detonate it, hopefully encasing the oil,” he said.”

  • louis

    “just destroy the well head and the surrounding area”… The reason a tiny nuke isn’t used down there is because there are 200 million voters who don’t believe tiny nukes exist.. Americans are folks who believe nukes can only be used to destroy entire cities and the surrounding area..

    There are nuke land mines, nuke ocean mines, artillery nukes, even suitcase nukes.. A tiny nuke, or 2, or 3, would collapse that local area.

  • http://the50besthealthblogs.blogspot.com/ The 50 Best Health Blogs

    QUOTE:
    “because what you may do is create open communication between the reservoir and the sea floor.”

    Yeah, get it over with. Just blow the whole top off the reservoir and let it all come out in one massive blast that could be seen from the Andromeda Galaxy.

    Brilliant idea. The next time my faucet leaks, I’ll seal it with a stick of dynamite.

    Geez, has everybody gone crazy?

    • http://timtyler.org/ Tim Tyler

      Ridicule is a weak form of argument – and so it is not clear why you think this is a “crazy” proposal.

    • mike russell

      Thats not what will happen.

  • louis

    No you’re not crazy, 50 blog, you and toooo many others in the world are just ignorant of the physics, ignorant of the possibilities, and ignorant of the actual inventory at hand.

    The smallest nukes do not have the power to “blow the whole top off the reservoir”.. Not even close. Even the biggest nukes would be hard pressed to do it, since there’s a mile of earth and rock in-between.. Our buried military infrastructure isn’t protected with that much dirt..

    Hey, Obama, pick the correct mini-nuke (or 2, or 3) and seal off that oil spill.

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  • tndal

    A nuke could trigger a massive release of methane from methane hydrates at the Gulf floor. Also, there is no guarantee that the explosion would not open more fissures than already exist.

    Better to back off, drill a relief well, then cap the broken well. Finally, in the end, we need to establish regulations that require that the most stringent measures be used in deepwater drilling, yet higher quality assurance testing, and redundancy in the equipment used.

    Make no mistake, the oil and gas industry are the true experts in building and maintaining equipment at pressures that can best be described as “alien” to our intuitions. They have a marvelous history of innovation and ingenuity. But the emphasis needs to remain on the engineering quality aspect of oil and gas exploration, and managers who seek cost-cutting measures should be culled from the industry. I’m afraid BP and other oil companies, have fallen under the spell of the same MBA crowd that brought us the financial meltdown: non-redundancy, extreme optimization, and an inordinately competitive nature that tends to override the caution required to do the job properly.

    • http://timtyler.org/ Tim Tyler

      There’s “no guarantee” of anything – but that should not lead to paralysis. Opening more fissures than currently exist seems like an unlikely outcome – and so not much of an objection.

  • louis

    “Make no mistake”, “are the true experts”, “best be described as ‘alien’ to our intuitions” : Hello, hello, anybody home.?.. The ‘mistake’ has ALREADY been made.. Per White House energy adviser Carol Browner – those ‘experts’ with their awesome ‘intuitions’ just caused the “worst US eco-disaster EVER”…. That’s “EVER”, as in never-been-a-bigger-one..

    Set aside any lame ideas that there “MIGHT” be a methane release.. There’d be maybe one-millionth the methane that undersea volcanoes release every year.. Set aside ideas that we’ll just live with the millions of extra oil pouring out during the month it takes to drill other wells.. The spewing oil “IS” causing an ever increasing damage to lives, careers, wildlife, the environment, and the future of it.. This spilling oil IS destroying the environment, right now, as we chat,… continually..

    This thing needs to be sealed, and it can be done.

  • Bock

    Matt Simons always plays Cassandra, is always predicting doomsday scenarios. He said recently on CNBC that this accident will likely turn the GOM into a dead sea, he believes the Saudis are already at peak oil, he believes the oil infrastructure worldwide is in a state of crisis and needs to be replaced…. his career seems to be based on making lurid predictions. Making lurid predictions signals we are important, no?

  • Bock

    “because what you may do is create open communication between the reservoir and the sea floor.”

    Consider that the reservoir is a mile beneath the sea floor. Can the nuke really create a crater a mile deep in dense rock? Sounds far-fetched.

    • mike russell

      At that depth, tacticals would be hard pressed to punch 200 feet, but it would displace the shaft and close it. Again its just not politically palatable..

  • Bock

    “But the emphasis needs to remain on the engineering quality aspect of oil and gas exploration, and managers who seek cost-cutting measures should be culled from the industry.”

    That is the media story, but you do not know that it is the case. Keep in mind this accident happened after BP made a major discovery, which is not something they take for granted. My guess (having worked offshore myself) is that the company man on the scene decided to play cowboy, ignored the procedures and ordered drilling to continue when he shouldn’t have. It was more likely a case of testosterone and ego than “cost-cutting measures”. These people wouldn’t be working on rigs in the first place if they weren’t huge risk-takers by nature. Obviously, BETTER procedures were needed to counteract the cowboy impulse, but the fact this kind of incident hasn’t happened often means there weren’t a lot of previous case studies to help in formulating those better procedures.

  • louis

    Well said, Bock..

    Now, considering the future of the coast and the future of those peoples’ lives hurt by this, all damages due should be fairly straight forward to get.. If BP drags their heels on payments for damages, then a court judgment would give the U.S. the right to take whatever BP assets are still pumping out there to pay off any debt.. This may not be accurate, but I heard somewhere that BP is the biggest oil pumping company off the Alaskan coast.. I suspect there’s billions and billions of dollars worth of BP oil assets around all U.S. coastlines..

    Even if the government can’t get it done, then a civil ‘class action’ suit should work.

    • Doug S.

      Under current U.S. law, BP is only liable for $75 million in damages, regardless of how much actual damage an oil spill does.

      • http://entitledtoanopinion.wordpress.com TGGP

        Alex Tabarrok says that’s wrong. State/common law are not overridden by the OPA, which furthermore only applies to economic damages (not cleanup costs, which may not have any cap) for which BP is strictly liable (there is no limit if BP is found to have been negligent or failed to follow regulations).

  • Bock

    What I dont understand is this:

    1. Consider the situation from BP’s point of view. They want the leak stopped ASAP. If they thought a nuclear solution was best, why wouldnt they advocate it? Keep in mind there are a lot more geophysicists working for BP than the government, so BP should know best. Would the politics of nukes influence BP’s thinking? The only reason i can come up with or them to be against it would be the fear that a nuclear solution would reverberate longer in the public consciousness, but still I think their bigger concern is the amount of oil washing ashore.

    2. Consider the situation from Obama’s perspective. If Obama ordered a nuke and it worked he would be a hero. Sure, people might wonder what took so long, but I think on net, if it worked, it would work out well for him politically. In other words, Obama will be judged by the ends not the means.

    So I have trouble believing that political considerations are anti-nuke here.

    • Khoth

      Further to (1), if BP decides that nuking the oil well is technically the best solution but would be politically awkward, their best strategy is probably to immediately publicly ask the US government for a nuke. If they don’t get it, they then have a way to deflect blame for the continuing disaster onto the government.

  • Fnord

    The evidence is a bit light to start throwing accusations of anti-nuclear bias. As the CSM article notes, the Russian bombs were used to stop natural gas, not oil leaks.

    It’s not impossible politics are involved, but it’s entirely possible that using a nuclear weapon is less desirable than other techniques for technical reasons.

    The advice of a single hedge-fund manager and two reporters (even from that bastion of thorough and balanced reporting Pravda) isn’t overwhelming evidence.

  • louis

    You wouldn’t think all of NASA would let the shuttle Challenger leave the pad on that cold morning either, but they did.. Ego isn’t just some cute Freudian idea, it really exists.. It even prevails at times you wouldn’t think possible.. We both could type out a list of historical examples where people didn’t do what they should have done, and an endless list to boot..

    The Ruskies used mini-nukes to do this very thing (5 times actually).. What the world doesn’t grasp is the fact that ‘nukes’ come in all sizes.. From the nasty megatons (that everyone fears will be used here) down to those mini-nukes that have a fraction of the power of the Hiroshima bomb.. A tiny fraction.. It’s those mini-designer nukes that would have saved the day, and still could..

    “Obama will be judged by the ends not the means”.. Very true, but even if it didn’t work, history would say he still tried to do everything..

    • http://thomblake.com/ Thom Blake

      louis, I only wouldn’t think NASA wouldn’t have let Challenger leave the pad if I were succumbing to hindsight bias. It would have been prohibitively expensive to follow up on everything that seemed as worrying as the o-rings; with policies like that, we never would have gotten to the moon.

      • louis

        Blake, I concur.. Believe it or not, I’m a huge believer in both NASA and in ‘off-shore’ drilling. My comment wasn’t about some type of hindsight judgment. I was making a statement about how a vast committee of people will often move, in motivation, in one direction, with determined purpose, at such a pace as to overlook the little but still important things, and sometimes to overlook the obvious things. This is more business sociology than judicial psychology..

  • Helix

    Steven Chu, the U.S. Energy Secretary, was born in 1948. He was not involved in developing hydrogen bombs in the 1950s, as suggested in the second quote.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steven_Chu

  • mjgeddes

    Edward Teller was a well-known proponent of nukes for everything , “including a plan to excavate an artificial harbor in Alaska using thermonuclear explosives” (wikipedia).

    I suggest a combination of nukes, followed up with a controlled matter-antimatter annihilation (perhaps using the LHC somehow) to make absolutely sure the whole site is excoriated. This also a good excuse to get a team together to build FAI, who can finish off the job.

    Damn: oil wells, nukes, anti-matter, LHC and FAI, that is sexually exciting man!

    • Ryan Vann

      Agreed, we need to declare war on oil spills and throw every piece of armament at them as possible.

  • louis

    “thermonuclear explosives”, “annihilation”, “make absolutely sure the whole site is excoriated”… Wow, people are sooo clueless.

    I suppose this is the ‘political’ reason that the oil well hasn’t been sealed by the government.. The general population doesn’t understand, doesn’t want to understand, and has no intention of ever being so..

    Even if the leak was ‘nuke sealed’ it’d probably kill one’s political career.. Voters tend to be purely emotional and woefully uninformed, rather than practical literates that could use the web to gather simple information..

  • Bock

    louis, i agree entirely with your prescription, but i still don’t get the political angle. why would it “kill one’s political career”? Don’t you think if it worked that the political response would be positive? If Obama framed it right and said “BP has failed to stop the leak, and now it is time for us to step in, use a nuclear explosive and collapse the well bore that is leaking.” And it worked! I think Obama’s approval ratings would increase. Don’t you?

    He doesn’t have to sell the general population on the idea before he does it. It won’t require an act of congress. I’m pretty sure he can call the shots and he will be judged entirely on the results. It seems to me he is motivated to call those shots based upon what he thinks is likely to work best.

    • http://williambswift.blogspot.com/ billswift

      Go out and talk to some normal people. The media has been trumpeting “nukes are bad, nukes are bad” so stridently and for so long that probably three-fourths of Americans are automatically and deeply against any use of nuclear power, especially explosives. And politicians live and die by the numbers. BP does not have nukes itself, so even if it wanted to risk the likely PR disaster, it would need to get the President to act – and as Robert Koslover said in the very first post on this thread – “It simply isn’t going to happen.”

      • Bock

        Maybe I’m not old enough, but I don’t have memory of the media saying “nukes are bad, nukes are bad”. That must have been a long time ago. All I’ve ever heard in the media is that oil is bad, oil is bad.

        I realize there was a political reason for why no nuke plants have been built in 40 years in the U.S. — but I think it has faded from public consciousness for most people under 40.

        I bet your average liberal under 40 would prefer a nuke plant to an oil well these days — because of the media.

      • Bock

        Also, my point is that if BP thought a nuke was the best solution why wouldn’t they just state that publicly? If the government didn’t act on that it would be their cross to bear.

      • http://hanson.gmu.edu Robin Hanson

        Bock, I expect BP feels enormous pressure to please the government, and if officials have told them not to publicly ask for nukes, they will comply.

      • http://williambswift.blogspot.com/ billswift

        They don’t explicitly say it as much any more, but it is the normal background of nearly everything now. I remember the increasing anti-nuke activism, fueled by media coverage and stupidity, during the 1970s, capped by their ignorant fear-mongering coverage of Three-Mile-Island. Things stayed more or less the same for the next couple of decades. I will admit things may have changed recently but I haven’t watched any TV in more than 8 years. Though I doubt it has changed much judging from the movies I have seen and most people’s attitudes.

  • http://twitter.com/XiXiDu XiXiDu

    Why not ask the Russians to do it?

  • Bock

    I’m no physicist so I don’t understand it, but I know that drillers already insure themselves against a nuclear disaster in wireline operations. From Wikipedia:

    “Nuclear logs utilize nuclear reactions that take place in the downhole logging instrument or in the formation. Nuclear logs include density logs and neutron logs, as well as gamma ray logs which are used for correlation. [2]. The basic principle behind the use of nuclear technology is that a neutron source placed near the formation of which the porosity is required to be measured will result in neutrons being scattered by the hydrogen atoms, largely those present in the formation fluid.”

    Am I misunderstanding this or are we already using tiny nuke sources in oil exploration?

    • Robert Koslover

      Those sound like radioactive sources used in making measurements, much like the nuclear techniques normally used in medical imaging. It’s nuclear, but not a bomb.

  • louis

    Hey, Bock: Such a thing shouldn’t really kill one’s career, and wouldn’t in the minds of some folks.. I’m just being pessimistic about the social majority ; i.e. using any tool that has the word ‘nuke; or ‘atom’ associated with it is just politically incorrect… I can tell that by reading some earlier letters..

    I have the gut feeling that this disaster is being allowed to grow (now) because of “Political Correctness”… Setting aside science, available tools, history, and most everything else..

    “Why not ask the Russians to do it”?.. LOL, but I think I’d still like to have a few nearby, to consult with..

  • Bock

    louis, Im sort of at ground zero here in Houston and Ive asked a lot of geophysicists what they think of the nuke idea and apparently there is genuine concern of making it worse. imagine, for instance, that an area containing the well bore is reduced to rubble, more or less. if the porosity of that rubble is much, the leak could continue to escape.

    • http://timtyler.org/ Tim Tyler

      The leak “continuing to escape” doesn’t sound much worse than the current situation.

  • louis

    Hi Bock, that’s really cool,.. except what could possibly be worse.???? Rock porosity isn’t a factor with such events (it hasn’t been with the 500 nuke tests made world wide to date). A baby nuke would ‘compress’ 200′ of a mile’s worth of rock (I’ve heard it’s considerably more than a mile).. It’s really a no brainer..

    Are you Houston guys concerned with the oil mass and the upcoming hurricane season.?. I don’t really know if a hurricane would flush things out or make things worse..

    On a side note, for R. Hanson: I bought an interesting genealogy book years back titled, “These Irishmen called Hanson”.. Contains a lot of good info..

    • http://williambswift.blogspot.com/ billswift

      A “natural” experiment! Let’s hope they wait until after the first hurricane to finally seal it, then we can actually see what happens.

  • ealgeone

    Chu did not help develop the H-Bomb. He was born in 1948 and the H-bombs came in the early 50s.

    • Buster

      you’re correct on the dates, but Mr. Chu was a very precocious 10 year old.

  • mickey Devee

    A lot of people like to bandy about the term “PC”, when what they should really be saying is ignorance and or bias. As stated already, many people simply don’t understand the range of yields available.
    Being afraid isn’t being PC, its ignorance or bias. Otherwise, you could call being against Public Health Care being PC. PC is is much used phrase, but has really lost any meaning and is simply, at this point, nothing more than a put down by people who don’t agree but can’t seem to be able to argue their point effectively. This might be result of poor schooling, or simply an unwillingness to look at an issue with reason and logic rather than propaganda and buzz words.
    Calling someone who doesn’t like nuclear weapons PC is as silly as someone else dismissing an idea out of hand because of ignorance and bias.

    Both China and Canada have detonated conventional explosives larger than many available nuclear weapons. Both were done for the purpose of moving earth. China’s explosion is the current record holder for largest non-nuclear explosion. Canada’s was, up to that point, and was used to clear a reef on the east coast of Vancouver Island. Very small tactical nuclear bombs are available of a size much smaller than what those two explosions yielded.

    Of course, getting that much conventional explosives down there would be almost impossible. Delivering that much down a well would be impossible. But not for a small low yield device. And at that point, the device would result in very little radiation. If bound in rock five hundred feet under a mile of water, it will be no problem at all.

    I find it odd that people dismiss nuclear option out of hand, calling it crazy, yet put up no real argument. Considering the oil that is pumping up into the gulf is destroying the environment, and will continue to do so for decades to come, I find dismissing ideas out of hand very short sighted.

    Recent research has shown even small spills sink into sand, dirt and soil and rock fractures, creating pockets that last for decades, creating long term problems for local flora and fauna. Its unknown if the frequent storms in the gulf will help or hinder the problem. It may help in the long run, but cause die offs and fishing closures for decades in an area that provides 20% of seafood to the United States. This is NOT A SMALL SPILL.

    How about: a well be drilled right beside the current well, down to 500 feet, within two feet of current well, add 20 feet of high explosive, then a steel plug twenty feet long, then concrete, steel plug, concrete. Explode via LONG timer. Then it collapses both wells.

    No matter what, in the future, blowout preventers need to be designed so that even if they fail, a cap can be placed over it and shut off the oil. ie, secondary fail safes.

    BTW, according to Business Week, the government tested one companies blowout preventer, 50% failed. Other companies then refused to allow their blowout preventers to be tested.

  • louis

    “Political Correctness” isn’t always about bias or ignorance, though toooo often it is.. PC is just the political or moral sway of the majority.. These people are willing to vote a particular way because they think most everyone else is going to also.. Occasionally it works out for the good.. The letters I’ve read across many sites leaves me to believe that most Americans are against using nukes down there, and the reasons for such an attitude appears to spans it all; bias, ignorance, and Political Correctness (whether ones likes that term or not)..

    One benefit to the designer-nuke idea, over a conventional explosion, is that the speed, heat, and power of this event will ‘fuse’ and ‘compress’ a larger area of rock subsurface. Conventional explosions, by comparison, are slower and cooler and would cause more of the rubble effect. For this situation we don’t want to smash around the subsurface, we want to fuse, compress, and seal off everything in the area.

  • http://twitter.com/XiXiDu XiXiDu
    • http://timtyler.org/ Tim Tyler

      Not very convincing, IMHO. There may be reasons – but these do not seem to be them.

  • http://shagbark.livejournal.com Phil Goetz

    Water is non-compressible. If you blow something up underwater, the shock wave gets dispersed at the water’s surface. A nuke could result in a tsunami.

  • http://timtyler.org/ Tim Tyler

    Looking at: “An Atomic Bomb will stop the Gulf Oil Leak, LOOK! ” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CpPNQoTlacU it does seem as though there is some resulting surface vibration – though probably not enough to write home about.

  • http://timtyler.org/ Tim Tyler

    “Government and private nuclear experts agreed that using a nuclear bomb would be not only risky technically, with unknown and possibly disastrous consequences from radiation, but also unwise geopolitically — it would violate arms treaties that the United States has signed and championed over the decades and do so at a time when President Obama is pushing for global nuclear disarmament.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/03/us/03nuke.html

    So: since the “radiation” argument seems like a joke, it sounds as though politics is mostly to blame here.

  • http://hanson.gmu.edu Robin Hanson

    Tim, yes the radiation argument is a joke, and that quote does seem evidence that politics is mostly to blame.

  • louis

    ” tsunami”, “surface vibration”, “radiation”: All these would be catastrophic and are 100 percent possible, but only if the wrong ‘nuke” is used….. Like any medicine: You must pick the right one, at the right dose… I’m one of those ‘geezer’ people, so I use -> a little aspirin <- to keep the arteries from clogging or exploding,… SOoooo ……. just……….. a ……….. little ……. medicine …….. is ……. perfect..

    What the heck is wrong with ' perfect '…

  • Allen

    A couple of nuclear devices were detonated in Colorado wells for tests related to their stimulation properties. They formed massive, basically glass bubbles around the explosion area. The tests were named Plowshare.

  • Allen

    And the reservoir is over 3 miles beneath the surface of the earth. I agree that the wellbore and casing condition is not going to be the problem.

  • anon

    Orwell wrote that physical threats define the practical limits of any system of thought. Two legs nuclear… is fine when there isn’t the threat of the largest oil disaster in human history facing you, but when it is, it’s just retarded to keep chanting anti nuclear slogans.

  • louis

    Hi anon: Very nice statement overall, but forgive me, as I’m old and I’m dense…. Like Denny Crane I’ve got mad-cow-disease…. What does the phrase ” two legs nuclear ” refer to..

  • Some knowledge

    So we can ” destroy the world” 25X over but not seal up a 3 foot hole with nuclear weapons? I don’t believe it….and yes I do have some background knowledge…..

  • http://modficationforcontrol math

    Everyone on this blog is foolishly overly complex . There is one very obvious solution , 1000 barges immediately converging over leak points dumping massive amounts of quarry rock sand and sediment creating an artificial island like in Dubai, but immediately, an artificial sea bed. Yes oil will escape on the first few dumps and the rocks will miss their target due to waves but a constant dropping of large debris and sediment will effectively cap it but this means they lose the hole . Beavers do this with sticks against r4 river pressure rapids. You have all watched too many movies and are either part of the apocolypse manufacture, or unconsciously brainwashed by the following movies:

    “Independence Day”
    “Armageddon”
    “The Core”
    “Aliens”

    the list goes on and on even movies of the week fighting Global warming the fact barges did not go into operation with quarries tells me this is all a cover to invade the US through disaster and control the world by her majesty through disaster. Here’s the phrase of the future: “The accident is the new weapon , the disaster is the new invasion “. This is republic’s enemies. Understand this.

    • http://www.georgeevers.org George E.

      math,

      Dumping rock and sediment on top of the leak seems overly simplistic given that the high pressure where the oil is escaping would immediately blow away any falling debris. Please consider that condescension merely inhibits the brainstorming process necessary to find a good solution.

      Sincerely,
      George E.

  • louis

    You call us “foolishly overly complex”, yet you have NO IDEA what the logistics of “1000 barges” entails.. What was discussed here was the simple, effective, nearly cost free, method of ending the crisis in the ‘Gulf. This also getting done in less time than it’d take to get one contract agreed upon for one of your barges..

    However, another option (following your lead), might have been to open the top of ‘one’ of your barges; flip it upside down; sink it to the leak, and use it as an inverted funnel (a world class funnel).. Several topside tankers could be tapped into the neo-topside of this barge/funnel and pump the oil out (without any oil escaping)..

  • arnbar

    The Macondo reservoir is three miles down. They are currently targeting the relief well to intersect with the blown-out one at nearly that depth, I believe. Even if a small yield nuke caused fissures, would it cause THREE MILES of fissures? Hardly. It would also seem that if placed properly it would COMPRESS rock as it displaced the well casing, etc., and any cavity would be located at some distance from the well. Criticisms? I’d say attack the well bore halfway down, midway between the ocean floor and the reservoir.

  • http://modficationforcontrol math

    The individuals who have attacked the simplicity of constructing a sediment scab over the earth’s skin through the construction of an artificial seabed , are couterintelligence agents who have infiltrated this site. This is an operation of genocide: bottom line. The cloak is an accident but make no mistake this is an attack on the American country and world wide covert depopulation over the next 2 years through planes’ sprays people will associate with toxic clouds wake up!

    THe US can not fold like this! They want it to fall they deliberately poured poison through broke black workers who were fooled into believeing the dispersant would help and all just in time to be whipped up into the clouds of a hurricane? This is genocide wake up. Do you need to see the hollywood movie in 10 years after it’s all said and done and their version oops it was an accident?!
    Every ocean engineer, building a highway tunnel underwate over a river bed , a river bed! The artifical sediment scabbing works even with the current of a river. Artifical island, (Dubai) Montreal (Expo 67) that the continual dumping of sand , gravel on large woven canvas tarps, like a flat massive sand bag along with hay and consistently being bulldozed off the barges coming over the hole will eventually have an compact, after 3months, if the total of barges working with the UN was 1000. This is information that is undisputable as gravel and sand are what make sediment and the ocean’s floor. As for the gentleman who sated this seems overly simplisitc , so does poking a hole in the earth’s body. It must have a scab form, this is the only way. You’re theories are human and in your mind . They do not work in the real scope of this disaster, which is simple. This disaster I know through the mounting info leaks, is shaping up to define itself as a gas attack on urban populations , therefore in the end, there will be planes spraying like a can of raid,what you think is oil and methane on the otherside of the cloudstorm. The spill, BP are a scapegoat theatre show for the real genocide opeartion . Don’t believe me , lose time, not believing me and you will die. There will be a worldwide frequency scream of the masses to stop the oil coming soon on this blog will be the details to screw with the moral consciousness of these puppets you think are leaders. The UN is completely silent on this, and it oceanic division , mmmmmhhh……But they’ll concern themselves world wide with a mystery bug. I guess that will also follow up again in the fall when they wish to stop the exodus to the wets. Quarantine. All set up you are children who can not see your parents are boiling the water for you to soak in. Why is BP open to public solutions: to have it look like there is no solution and reject all solutions never putting them in practice so that the leak seems unstoppable, therefore a fortm of mass deception and consent that everyone tried and failed that’s how big it was. they will all be coming out of their holes when it’s done, Corexit has a lifespan of 28 days to evaporation and being broken down, remember 28 days, they warned you…

  • http://www.ahappyworld.info Imran O Kazmi

    Please google “nuke the BP well”

    The scientific community AND the leaders are talking about parts of MY solution back in April on http://oilspillsolution.wordpress.com – THIS IS THE TIME TO GET IN TOUCH WITH THE GOVERNMENT OR BP/DEEP HORIZON TEAM, I CAN HELP THEM MAKE IT HAPPEN.

    What do you guys say, if you see my solutions they are HOLISTIC then just “nuking” the undersea well?

    Imran Owais Kazmi
    Chief Thinking Officer, Strategy2Action
    Blog http://imranokazmi.wordpress.com
    Dubai +971 55 8094119 Uk +44 750 9184690

  • http://www.rafarsiv.com raf

    You call us “foolishly overly complex”