All Nukes Are Off

Thursday, June 3, 2010


After we learned President Obama’s official team to deal with the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico included Richard L. Garwin, a physicist, an IBM Fellow Emeritus, and a leading military-technology and arms-control consultant for the U.S. government who also helped design the first hydrogen bomb in 1951, speculation exploded across the internet that the U.S. could follow the former Soviet Union’s use of a nuclear bomb to seal off gushing oil well. If it worked for the Russians, why not try it here?

But, according to Stephanie Mueller, neither the Energy Department, or anyone else on the team was thinking about detonating a nuclear blast under the Gulf of Mexico. The nuclear option was not, and never had been, on the table, Mueller said.

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

Enthusiasm for a nuclear approach is based on reports the Soviet Union succeeded in using atomic bombs to seal off gas wells. Milo D. Nordyke, in a 2000 technical paper for the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., described five Soviet blasts from 1966 to 1981. All but the last blast were successful. The 1966 explosion put out a gas well fire that had raged uncontrolled for three years.

This entry was posted in Gulf Oil Spill, News, Nuclear Option and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to All Nukes Are Off

  1. Arizona Leatherneck says:

    It’s my understanding, the regions of Russia where the nuclear option was used to cap oil and gas wells are sparsely populated areas, with few people.

    The Gulf coast of the U.S. stretches from Houston to Pensacola and Tampa — millions of Americans live along this land mass. If something went wrong and at this point, more has gone wrong than right, do we really want to use nuclear technology at this point?

    I am delighted the nuclear idea is off the table.

  2. feminazi says:

    This is good news. Things have gone so well thus far in the Gulf thus far. I mean, once the nuclear genie is out of the bottle, there is no putting him back. I shutter to think about the Feds nuking the oil well and the crust of the earth shattering.

  3. Harry says:

    Let’s hope they exhaust all other options before they consider nuclear technology. The thought of this is scarier than the oil leak.

  4. Prairiedog says:

    I feel guilty each time I go to the gas station to fill up to drive to work.

    Truth be told, I would take the bus or train but I have neither option where I live. So I rely on my car and I drive to work, the supermarket and everywhere else I need to go.

  5. Walk on Socks says:

    Based on the way the BP, and the Obama administration has carried out fixing the disaster in the Gulf, I wouldn’t trust the U.S. to set-off an A-bomb to seal the leak.

    Maybe they should consulate the Russians first, since they have a proven history of using nuclear technology to seal errant oil and gas wells.

    But let’s not rush into something we may end up regretting.

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