It was only yesterday that I thought that detonating a nuclear bomb to seal the BP oil leak in the Gulf - despite its popularity with the Soviets in the '60s and '70s - was not something to be considered at all.
However, it turns out that this method has some support from at least one experienced and educated man in the field of nuclear weaponry - Christopher Brownfield. Mr. Brownfield is a former nuclear submarine officer, Iraq War veteran, and a visiting scholar on nuclear policy at Columbia University. He wrote a rather bluntly-titled article over at The Daily Beast called "Nuke the Oil Spill."
Brownfield says that on the first day of the BP oil spill, his gut instinct was to nuke the well, sealing it off. Historically, explosives have been used to seal oil wells for over 100 years (although for the most part conventional such as TNT ) and there is precedent with the USSR of plugging oil leaks via nuclear blasts.
Brownfield points out that this method will destroy the well, rather than the convoluted and contrived methods that have been tried - and have failed - for over a month now.
However, using a nuclear weapon, even for a peaceful, good purpose such as this would pose huge PR issues for President Obama with regard to his anti-nuke stance, brought to high profile at the Prague conference.
On the face of it, it at first seemed absurd to me, but I suppose there is a reasonable calculation to be made about the radiation fallout damage vs. the damage of continued oil leakage. The well is a mile under water - surely most of the radiation will be contained under the ocean? Not that that's an ideal situation in itself, but it could perhaps be preferable to millions of gallons of viscous sludge contaminating our shores and wildlife for decades (according to the worst-case estimates I've seen).
As an alternative, Brownfield suggests that the US military and private
corporations could detonate conventional explosives to collapse the
well, avoiding the use of nuclear weaponry.
This seems like the ideal solution. Of course it will require
intervention from the government, because BP will not want to lose the
sunk cost of the well in addition to the vast oil reserves below it.
What do you think? Nuke the well?
Are conventional explosives the way to go?
Destroying the well might be the only option aside from drilling a relief well, which will take a long time.
I haven't heard anything else about the nuclear option - anyone have info to share?
Thanks to g mylin for the link to the article.
More on BP Oil Spill:
- "Cut & Cover" Effort to Stop BP Oil Leak Stalls While Potential Lawsuits
- Obama Administration Investigates BP for Criminal & Civil Charges on Gulf
- Russian Newspaper Suggests "Nuclear Option" to Plug BP Oil Spill