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Should BP nuke its leaking well?

July 2, 2010

More than 70 days into the BP disaster and oil is still gushing from the broken well, leaving some to believe a nuclear explosion is the only solution left.

A nuclear fix to stop the leaking well has been touted online and in the occasional newspaper op-ed for weeks now. Washington has repeatedly dismissed the idea and BP execs say they are not considering an explosion — nuclear or otherwise.

But as a series of efforts to plug the 60,000 barrels of oil a day gushing from the sea floor have failed, talk of an extreme solution refuses to die.

Should BP nuke its leaking well?

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A boat passes through heavily oiled marsh near Pass a Loutre, Louisiana May 20, 2010. REUTERS/Lee Celano

Comments

Two months ago I scoffed at the notion. But now? How much worse could it be possibly than what we are now witnessing?

Posted by IntoTheTardis | Report as abusive
 

So what fish can You eat then? Mom, the fish is glowing, turn out the lights and see.

Posted by bobma2z | Report as abusive
 

Surely this talk of nukeing the well is just an intellectual exercise made in jest on a slow news day.

In 1965, 1969, and 1971 the US Atomic Energy Commission performed underground nuclear tests beneath the island of Amchitka in the Aleutians. Among other bad things, huge numbers of marine mammals were immediately killed by the shock wave, and vast amounts of money are still being spent to monitor the site for radioactive leakage.

The scientific community is divided regarding whether or not radioactive contaminants are leaking into the Bearing Sea ecosystem. Do we want people to “wonder” if Gulf of Mexico seafood is radioactively contaminated?

Posted by rog-geo | Report as abusive
 

I think, at this point, we have no other recourse, as the amount of oil pouring out would seem to overshadow even radioactive contamination. BP had plenty of chances to shut the well down completely (i.e. CRUSH IT), but got sick with the greed and tried to keep the wellhead. Gotta make that almighty dollar, right? The Russians nuked wells several times in the 60′s (albeit on land), with reports of minimum radiation leakage in the area immediately following the blast. If we won’t, I hope Russia will. After all, it IS in international waters…

Posted by DarthHill | Report as abusive
 

I read up on the Russian use of nukes for stopping blown wells. I don’t believe it has ever been attempted under water nor on an oil well. Also there is a definite chance of fracturing the surrounding rock and creating a new leak which would be even more difficult to stop.

Posted by dacg | Report as abusive
 

Assuming they really exist, mini nukes at certain depths might be feasible, but what if it fails to melt the rock and only creates a bigger more fractured hole? The oil industry doesn’t want this plugged too soon. It’s a boon to the ancillary oil field services and it makes a Dem president look bad. Remember Cheney and bush had oil industry backgrounds and proved that nothing is sacred when it comes to gaining power.

Posted by JCnTN | Report as abusive
 

If you fracture the impermeable layer of rock over the permeable layer that contains the oil, the oil pressure would blow the upper layer wide open. It would be a short lived, violent oil volcano. You would have a lake of fire at the mouth of the Mississippi River for a year.

Bad enough?

Posted by Timuchin | Report as abusive
 

The only thing worse than oil is nuclear pollution. What numbskull would even suggest such a thing?!

Posted by lillafresh | Report as abusive
 

Come on!

This is an upward flow against gravity that can be stopped by some easy tricks on fluid dynamics using concepts of surface transport of particles. Bubbling flow upward can be clogged by high density particles coming down by gravity pull.

Instead of doing a junk shot with gulf balls and shredded tires they were supposed to put high density and sinking geometry to clog the well. We do it a lot in Soil Science and the Dust Bowl provides insights on surface transport of particles by erosion regarding detachment, transport, and deposition.

Hydrology is being curbed in the patenting affairs and technological development deeply missing now to solve simple problems like clogging a spilling well.

Posted by Tubarc | Report as abusive
 

Come on!

This is an upward flow against gravity that can be stopped by some easy tricks on fluid dynamics using concepts of surface transport of particles. Bubbling flow upward can be clogged by high density particles coming down by gravity pull.

Instead of doing a junk shot with gulf balls and shredded tires they were supposed to put high density and sinking geometry to clog the well. We do it a lot in Soil Science and the Dust Bowl provides insights on surface transport of particles by erosion regarding detachment, transport, and deposition.

Hydrology is being curbed in the patenting affairs and technological development deeply missing now to solve simple problems like clogging a spilling well.

The use of golf balls in the junk shot is a clear evidence that the experts have no handle on deep Hydrology. I am not surprised since a sort of ‘scientific discovery’ in Hydrodynamics is being constantly violated by lay people as Patent Examiners, Patent Attorneys, and Scientists. Try to find any address of wick/wicking on Hydrology textbooks and you will see that this oil spill is something that could have been stopped on the day ONE if science were respected and honored.

This OIL SPILL is a consequence of a buch of people pretending to be smart overstepping the boundaries of a classic science called HYDROLOGY.

Posted by Tubarc | Report as abusive
 

Is this poll designed to get the right-wing nuts out? Nuke the well? Are you kidding me?

Posted by MV53 | Report as abusive
 

what a concept. what a great idea. combine oil and nuclear radiation, doing something where you admit you don’t know what will really happen. yeah… just great woohoo

Posted by mjimih | Report as abusive
 

two wrongs don’t make a right.

Posted by LEEDAP | Report as abusive
 

yeah sure try blowing out a fire with an explosion when you blow a hole into a bigger hole 1 mil gallons a day times lets say 1000 times the hole eqauls our biggest fear a firey ball flying through the earths atmosphere and here another no one is quite sure of the shale layers in the gulf right next to the largest fault line dear mr president you are the commander in chief please use are most natural resource (the unimployment rate) united states citizens non-working people to clean up this eviromental catastrophe you may even want to consider real scientists its not if we go green its when

Posted by rocketsurgery | Report as abusive
 

No, no, no, no! What are these idiots thinking? Turning the Gulf into Chernobyl will only make things worse! Why not just keep burning the oil on the water’s surface as they were two weeks ago?

Posted by silverfang | Report as abusive
 

NO! It would cave in a large section of the seafloor.
SOLUTION THAT WILL WORK WITHIN 10 DAYS!
The total solution to capture 90% of the oil was presented to BP on May 5, 2010 60 days 1.5 million gallons(estimated) of spilled oil ago. BP Adopted a part of the solution 50 days ago.The solution to bottom kill the well was also presented and acknowledged by BP 50 days ago. They have a direct entry point to the well via the top of the BOP. We have experienced well drillers who can drill down to the bottom and bottom kill/plug the well with mud/cement within 10 days. BP needs more time to drill 2 additional wells to tap into the largest oil find in the western hemisphere.

Can you follow the dollar? 20 billion expense that can not be recovered if you plug the well.(you would never get permission to drill another well after this disaster) or 20 billion expense recoverable if you drill 2 new wells.

What would you as a BP board member do?

Posted by oneofmany | Report as abusive
 

I dont even need to read this article or many of the comments to appreciate that Reuters is trying to now flog a dead journalistic horse.
Great idea, nuke the hole in the ground – why not? It has never been done before at these depths…
Not to mention the North Korean’s will think that you are trying to invade and start a war……great thinking guys, who the hell put you as ‘leaders of the free world’ ??

Posted by PassingResident | Report as abusive
 

Who thought of this poll? Ridiculous.

Posted by mritt400 | Report as abusive
 

It’s not a good question for laymen. This is an engineering issue. Perhaps a non-nuclear weapon such as the massive bombs we used in Iraq could be positioned at the right depth to pinch off the pipe sufficiently to stop the flow. Then it could be cemented for eternity. Only engineers and geologists have sufficient data to calculate the result when a mile of water is pressing on the well.

In any case, it is unlikely that a nuclear weapon would be required.

Posted by WYSIWYG | Report as abusive
 

Putting a crater in the Ocean Floor will NOT SEAL THE LEAK……..That is STUPID!!!! And Nuclear pollution is WORSE than OIL Pulution…..DRILL BABY DRILL. NOBODY should be at the GULF SHORE anyway…..That is HURRICANE TERRITORY…..DRILL! There is probably a “Saudi Arabia” down there!!!

Posted by johnwwayne | Report as abusive
 

If George was still in office I’d worry about this really happening so this poll is just a joke, right?

Posted by Boxtop | Report as abusive
 

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