Thursday, May 20, 2010

Gulf Oil Spill: The Nuclear Option

(Composite image by Ray X).

Russian science journalist Vladimir Gubarev has a solution to the Gulf oil spill: nuke it.

In a Pravda article he explains how the Soviet Union used nuclear bombs to seal off wells:

"The USSR had a sad experience in containing oil-well flowing in Central Asia. Two breakdowns occurred almost simultaneously... The two giant flames were extinguished with the help of nuclear explosions. They drilled two wells to approach the emergency wells under the ground and lowered nuclear devices into the wells. The troubled wells were blocked as a result of the explosions."

The Russian science journalist explains that he was present during the successful explosions. Gubarev then writes that the Soviet scientists wanted to promote their oil-spill-stopping technology to other countries but the US declined due to concerns about radioactivity.

The atomic bombs used by the USSR were still powerful but relatively low yield. The first one used to seal off a burning gas well in 1966 near Bukhara in Uzbekistan was a 30-kiloton bomb. (The Hiroshima bomb was 20 kilotons. The US B53 nuclear bomb, its most powerful warhead, could yield 9,000 kilotons.)

From what I've seen of BP and its cohorts in this disaster, Halliburton and Transocean, I don't want them near any nukes. BP -- British Petroleum -- used to promote itself in ad as a green company, saying it was investing in alternative energy sources such as biofuels, hydrogen and solar power.

But as noted in a New York Times article, "Despite its new sunburst logo and 'Beyond Petroleum' slogan, BP still invests $12 billion, or 25 times more, on oil and gas than on its wind and solar division for the simple fact that, right now, there's a huge market for oil and almost none for solar panels." ("How Green Is BP?" December 8, 2002). Later on it decided to "throw in the towel" with its alternative energy efforts ( - Feb. 5, 2009). So much for its new green and yellow sunburst logo.

Besides BP's dodgy use of advertising to influence public opinion, take a look at the explosion back in March 2005 at its Texas City refinery. 15 workers killed, 150 others injured. Why? Because BP, to save money and increase profits, cut back on maintenance and safety costs, the decision being traced back to the Powers-That-Be in London.

So no nukes for BP. Unless you want to go to Louisiana and look at tar balls glowing in the dark.

Beyond Petroleum, their ass.


X. Dell said...

(1) If the Soviets exploded nuclear weapons in 1966, I would almost suspect that it had more to do with finessing out of the nuclear test ban treaty which the US agreed to during the Kennedy administration.

(2) about ten years ago, Burger King donated a million dollars to the United Negro College Fund. Thing is, though, they spent ten million dollars in a PR campaign to announce that they were giving a million dollars to the UNCF.

I wouldn't be surprised if BP actually spent more money advertising its greenness than actually researching green technology.

Ray said...

X. Dell:

Regarding your first point, here is an excerpt from that Pravda article by Gubarev that I link to within the text of my post:

"Soviet specialists hoped that they could promote their technology to help other countries, the ones that signed the non-proliferation treaty but could use nuclear explosions in industrial purposes."

I'm not familiar with all of the details with the test ban treaty but I could see exceptions being made for "industrial purposes." Of course, sometimes military and industrial purposes can blend together into a complex situation (to use the appropriate pun).