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Oil Leak Could Be Stopped With a Nuke 799

An anonymous reader writes "The oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico could be stopped with an underground nuclear blast, a Russian newspaper reports. Komsomoloskaya Pravda, the best-selling Russian daily, reports that in Soviet times such leaks were plugged with controlled nuclear blasts underground. The idea is simple, KP writes: 'The underground explosion moves the rock, presses on it, and, in essence, squeezes the well's channel.' It's so simple, in fact, that the Soviet Union used this method five times to deal with petrocalamities, and it only didn't work once."


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Oil Leak Could Be Stopped With a Nuke

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  • Dare I say it? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dtml-try MyNick ( 453562 ) <litheran@g[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @12:02PM (#32170340)

    What could possibly go wrong?

  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @12:02PM (#32170342) Journal
    Assuming the methane ice had a role, is there a risk that this released energy could trigger more methane ruptures in nearby drilling spots []?

    It's so simple, in fact, that the Soviet Union used this method five times to deal with petrocalamities, and it only didn't work once.

    Success rate does not illustrate simplicity, especially not with that small of a sample set. That could be the equivalent of saying, "Putting a man on the moon is so simple, in fact, that the United States has used their method once and it has never failed."

  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @12:03PM (#32170348) Journal

    I don't think we have any orbital nukes. We would have to nuke it from orbit, as it's the only way to be sure.

  • Genius! (Score:5, Funny)

    by SoupGuru ( 723634 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @12:03PM (#32170350)
    What problems can't a nuclear explosion solve?
  • by GuJiaXian ( 455569 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @12:03PM (#32170352) Homepage's that any and all natural disasters can be stopped by the liberal use of nuclear weapons.

  • by Nukenbar ( 215420 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @12:06PM (#32170410)

    But could a large conventional blast do the same thing?

  • by El_Frood ( 1808330 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @12:09PM (#32170480)

    I'm trying to figure out which part of this story is the scariest.

    ... that someone has suggested setting off an underground nuke to close an oil well?

    ... finding out that the Soviets did this all the time?

    ... finding out that the USSR was so careless they had six "petrocalamities" worth trying this trick on?

    ... finding out that there's an actual word for an oil accident of this size?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *

      ... that someone has suggested setting off an underground nuke to close an oil well?

      So you are going to trigger a device that will reproduce the heat found inside the sun, and are worried about oil "catching fire"? That's like worrying about dropping a 2000lb bomb on the gas tank of a lawnmower. Please.

      Secondly oil does not "explode", it burns. Gasoline vapor explodes, but only in the presence of air because the reaction needs oxygen. Explosives explode because t

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Bemopolis ( 698691 )

        I have a special request, however. All global warming and card-carrying Greenpeace members should be placed on a boat immediately above the device if this is going to happen.

        Yes, by all means, let's punish the people who were *right*.


        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *

          Yes, by all means, let's punish the people who were *right*.

          Right about what?

          You are typing on a computer to tell me that I need to consume less energy? I bet you use electricity and drive to work, too. That resources need to be managed more carefully because of our overpopulation? Agreed. That people should be attacked/bombed/killed for it? Nope. That the Earth is warming and sea levels are rising? Agreed. Lying to people and ignoring this trend that has been go

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Zarf ( 5735 )

      +1 inciteful.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      I have a feeling that there was somebody at the Politburo whose answer to everything was 'why don't we nuke that sonnovabitch?!'

      Actually finding out about this technique makes me wonder how humanity ever survived the Cold War.
  • Duct tape (Score:4, Funny)

    by Aeros ( 668253 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @12:13PM (#32170542)
    Duct tape can solve almost anything. I think they need to look into this a bit ... plus its very inexpensive
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by rodney dill ( 631059 )
      A man only needs two tools.
      Duct tape and wd-40.

      If it moves and its not supposed to, use the duct tape.
      If its supposed to move and it doesn't, use the wd-40.
  • by StefanJ ( 88986 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @12:14PM (#32170566) Homepage Journal

    Back in the late eighties, when the world was turned upside down by the fall of the iron curtain. my friends and I speculated that the fact that Reagan had survived assassination* had torn a hole in reality, thrusting us into a Bizarro Universe.

    Now we have Russians suggesting something that only would make sense in a really bad TV movie or potboiler eco-disaster novel.

    Like the man uptopic says, what could possibly go wrong?

    We're there, man.


    * Schoolyard mythology: presidents elected in years ending in 0 always died in office.

  • Nuke blast in Gulf (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BlackSnake112 ( 912158 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @12:14PM (#32170570)

    For some reason I see many people in boats waiting to pick up all the dead fish that float up from the nuke blast. Sort of a super sized red neck fishing lure.

    On a serious note, as others have said, there is a lot of methane down there. I remember seeing a deep sea sub video of the methane bubbling up in the Gulf of Mexico. They captured it in a tube and the methane formed methane crystals due to the cold and pressure down there. Unless the plan is to cap the entire Gulf of Mexico to capture this methane, I would like to see a bit more informed planning.

  • by CyprusBlue113 ( 1294000 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @12:15PM (#32170584)

    The Gulf of Mexican? Honestly? I mean come on...

  • Brilliant (Score:5, Funny)

    by masterwit ( 1800118 ) * on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @12:15PM (#32170590) Journal

    As a pyromaniac extraordinaire I fully endorse this under one condition:

    That a TON of high speed camera footage is available at no charge to me later. Outside of that I'm sold.

  • by jameskojiro ( 705701 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @12:18PM (#32170636) Journal

    Was if they had used Chuck Norris to punch the well dry it would have caused massive earthquakes all over the world making what was shown in the movie 2012 looks like a grabage truck passing by.

  • An Excuse (Score:5, Funny)

    by RealErmine ( 621439 ) <commerce@wor[ ] ['dho' in gap]> on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @12:27PM (#32170808)
    This is just an excuse to Nuke the Whales.
  • by ojintoad ( 1310811 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @12:27PM (#32170818)

    Can be viewed here. []

    Synopsis: If the oil leak is in a desert where nothing of value is living anyway and it has been going on for several years and it shows no sign of stopping and you've tried just about everything else, then a nuclear blast could work. However, in the gulf of mexico it makes no sense because we haven't tried all that many things and the leak hasn't been gong on for several years and there's lots of things around of value, including people and marine wildlife.

  • My only response (Score:3, Insightful)

    by logjon ( 1411219 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @12:30PM (#32170884)
    Drill, baby, drill.
  • by schwit1 ( 797399 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @12:57PM (#32171284)
    How do we know it won't make the hole bigger?
  • one out of five (Score:3, Insightful)

    by j00r0m4nc3r ( 959816 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @01:15PM (#32171558)
    That's a 20% fail rate. Pretty bad odds if you ask me...
  • Project Plowshare (Score:5, Interesting)

    by necro81 ( 917438 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @01:24PM (#32171682) Journal
    Using nukes to for mining purposes (and that's what this is, more or less) is nothing new.

    The article mentions that the USSR used nukes some 169 times to create canals or underground chambers []. Within the US there was Operation Plowshare [], where Edward Teller [] (inventor of the hydrogen bomb) got the idea to use nukes to create large deep water harbors, open up mines, level pesky mountains, or even carve a straight and level road across the Panamanian isthmus. It was never tried other than some proof-of-concept blasts. Some folks thought it might not be such a good idea to set of nuclear weapons like demolition charges. Wimps - no sense of adventure.
  • by JumpDrive ( 1437895 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @01:27PM (#32171738)
    Now this is the way to go fishing in the south.
    Just line up the fish trawlers on one side of the Gulf and start scooping them off of the surface.
    Fishing industry gets a bonanza and we seal a leak.
    Oh, heck. Just drop a 48 tons of Creole seasoning in before the blast with a few hundred tons of corn and potatoes and we're done. We can just skip all the fisheries and just wait for dinner to come ashore.

    But, I'll have to remember this next time we go fishing.
    "No, sir mister warden. We weren't fishing with dynamite, we were just trying to plug an oil leak in the bottom of the pond"
  • by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @02:00PM (#32172274)
    There were 27 so-called peaceful nuclear explosions [] in the US. one of the last in 1973 was supposed to fracture the ground in Colorado methane field to increase production. It has the contrary effect of melting a layer of glass underground and sealing off the methane. Russia used 115 bombs in similar tests []. The seismic data they obtained is considered the best ever collected.
  • by jc42 ( 318812 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @02:26PM (#32172614) Homepage Journal

    I clicked on the "Read More ..." link expecting to find a discussion of the pros and cons of using nukes as engineering tools. And all I find so far is a discussion that should have been Godwinned out of existence long before it reached its current state.

    Over the past half century, there have been some interesting proposals for engineering uses of nukes. One of my favorites was only a short distance south of the current record-setting oil spill: The proposed sea-level canal across Central America.

    There have been several analyses of the possibility of such a canal. It could be much wider, deeper and cheaper than the current Panama canal, which is too small for many of the largest ships these days. Most of the proposed sites go across southern Nicaragua, where the passes through the mountains are lowest and widest. Several of the proposals amounted to burying a chain of nukes in a line through the area, and setting them off. The result would be a chain of interlocking craters with bottoms below sea level. A bit more work with large bulldozers to even out the shore line, and we'd have a canal.

    There were various reasons why funding for these projects (through the US Congress, of course) was eventually rejected. One of the funnier ones came from research biologists. They pointed out that the Caribbean is a few meters higher than the east Pacific, so there would be a slow but significant east-to-west current in the canal. This would carry not just water, but lots of biological material, from the Caribbean to the Pacific. (The other direction would also happen, but would be limited to a few good swimmers).

    The biologists thought this was too good a scientific opportunity to pass up, and started submitting grant proposals to do the Pacific-wide baseline population studies that would be needed to understand the ecological catastrophe that would follow. They argued that we missed a good opportunity by not doing the studies before the Saint Lawrence Seaway was built, so we were unable to track in detail the catastrophe that exterminated the Great Lakes' fishing industry, as the sea lamprey ate up all the fish in the lakes. They didn't want to lose out on all the valuable biological data that would follow the much larger catastrophe after the seal-level canal in Central America pumped thousands of new species into the tropical Pacific.

    After enough of these grant proposals were submitted and Congress learned about them, the funding proposals for the canal were quietly "misplaced" and no longer discussed. Some of the biologists followed up by talking about their great disappointment that they would not be able to study such a large-scale biological "experiment". They didn't much lament the loss to engineers by the loss of a project to do large-scale nuclear construction, though I suppose in private a lot of civil engineers must have also been shedding crocodile tears over this loss to their profession.

    Using a nuke on the BP well wouldn't do anything so biologically spectacular, of course. But I can see biologists hurriedly asking for funding to study the effects on the Gulf ecology. If it could be done right, we could get a lot of useful information out of the experiment.

    Anyway, I'm still hoping to read lots of comments about nuclear construction ...

    (Lessee; do I need a smiley to deflect the moderators who lack the humor gene? ;-)

  • by DarthVain ( 724186 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @02:30PM (#32172664)

    "the Soviet Union used this method five times to deal with petrocalamities, and it only didn't work once."

    I think the lesson that can be learned here is that you need to use 5 nukes all at the same time to guarantee success.

    You know, just to be sure.

Did you hear that two rabbits escaped from the zoo and so far they have only recaptured 116 of them?