July 15, 2010

AFTER SEVEN DECADES OF PUTTING UP THE BUCKS...:

Seven Reasons We Still Might Bomb the Oil Leak (Really) (David Axe, 7/15/10, Esquire)

1. It's worked before.

On at least three occasions in the '60s and '70s, the Soviets succeeded in burying small nuclear warheads to crimp and permanently seal leaking natural-gas wells on land. The blasts were meant to shift the rock strata, collapsing the well shafts. Using a nuclear bomb for anything these days — even tests — is politically unacceptable, but there are no such hang-ups about conventional explosives. "The physical principles of an explosion-induced shockwave are very good," says U.S. Marine Corps science advisor Franz Gayl, the main proponent of the bomb plan who's been making the rounds from the Pentagon and through blast modeling all the way up Capitol Hill.

2. We've got the hardware.

Back in the Gulf War, when the Iraqi army torched hundreds of Kuwaiti oil wells, Gayl started thinking about using bombs on oil leaks, too. An advance engineer who would later go to advise the Pentagon on drones for Afghanistan, his idea was to use several standard, 2,000-pound U.S. Air Force bombs dropped by a B-52. But Gayl has modified his scheme for the Gulf of Mexico, limiting warheads to one or two of the Air Force's special bunker-buster munitions, each weighing in at between 23,000 and 30,000 pounds. The (relatively) measured explosion, Gayl and other proponents say, should crimp the well.

3. We've crunched the numbers.

Make no mistake: Gayl is not acting on behalf of the U.S. military or government, but with scientists at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories and defense consultant SAIC modeling the effects of his undersea blast plan, he's no mad scientist, either. "Results look good," one scientist told Gayl. In an interview with The Politics Blog, the same scientist, who spoke anonymously for fear of retribution within the Obama administration, said the bomb plan was not a "slam dunk" but that "the initial looks suggest it might be worth pursuing as backup should relief wells not work."


...we're entitled to a bang.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 15, 2010 5:02 PM
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