Monday, May 31, 2010
Before the failure of the so-called “Top Kill” method to stop the flow of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico, in a desperate move, BP tried the ‘Junk shot’ method to stop the leak which included stuffing junk like golf balls, rubber tires, plastic tubes, and ropes are being used to clog the well. Even human hair was suggested as a potential plug.
But at 5,000 feet below the surface, battling low temperature and high pressure is not an easy task. The pressure of the oil was so enormous that the BOP couldn’t prevent the explosion. Also the leak is now estimated to be more than the 19,000 barrels of oil a day, covering an area 150 miles in length and drilling two relief shafts will not be completed until August at the earliest. So is it now the time to consider a nuclear explosion to cap the gushing oil?
The truth is, Russia has used nukes at least five times starting in Uzbekistan in 1966. when a massive natural gas leak burned for three years. After all efforts to contain the flame in the desert failed, a 30 kiloton atom bomb was used. The explosion sealed the well by displacing tons of rock over the leak.
People naturally fear that a nuclear explosion would set the oil spill on fire but Russia has used subterranean nuclear blasts as much as 169 times and the number would add up to more than 1,000 if all the tests by different countries are taken into account. Since a nuclear explosion in the Gulf of Mexico take place underwater, the absence of oxygen means there is no chance of the oil catching fire. Proponents of the nuclear solution argue the explosion would be underground and beneath the rock. The energy released would heat and melt the surrounding rock, thus shutting off the spill.
There is concern that a nuclear explosion will kill flora, particularly the phytoplankton and the marine organisms including fish. But the oil spill itself, if left unchecked, will cause more damage than the results of a nuclear blast. Further, many tests have been carried underwater and no serious damage has been reported.