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Jul. 22 2010 - 12:19 pm | 127 views | 0 recommendations | 4 comments

Proof that nuking the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is a terrible idea

Remember when our Julia Ioffe picked up the Russian media that was suggesting that America might want to take a page from the Soviet Union’s history books and nuke the site of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico to cut off the oil spill once and for all?

That was some fun Internet times. But back in reality, we have some indications that it is actually a terrible idea. In 1969, as part of its program of ‘peaceful nuclear explosions’, the government exploded a large nuclear bomb 8,000 feet below a mountain near Parachute, Colorado. They were trying to liberate natural gas, but all they ended up doing was irradiating it. And now oil companies want to try drilling again, and locals are not happy according to Catherine Tsai at the AP:

Four decades later, energy companies are drilling near the nuclear site as they look to tap Colorado’s lucrative oil and gas reserves. Some local residents say they don’t trust the industry after what happened here and in the Gulf of Mexico during the oil spill. They’re fearful that accidents could pollute the air with radioactive gas if drilling gets much closer.

“I’m not 100 percent sure that the gas industry or the oil industry is careful enough, or has enough plans in place, that if something happens like the oil spill that I would be safe,” said Parachute Town Trustee Judith Hayward, who owns half the mineral rights in a 40-acre no-drill zone at the site of the nuclear experiment.

Locals are also quick to mock the idea floated during the Gulf oil spill to close the breached well with a nuclear bomb. Engineers tried a nuke in the course of energy exploration here, and it didn’t turn out as expected.

via News from The Associated Press.

Funny: the Soviets used nukes to close off oil and gas leaks, we used nukes to secure oil and gas supplies. Communism vs. capitalism defined!

(Nevermind, I’m sure the Soviets used nukes for oil and gas exploration, too. Then again, the Soviets used nukes when they had trouble uncorking a bottle of vodka…)

More seriously, it’s worth considering that no mind was ever paid to environmental issues by the Soviet Union. The natural world they controlled was meant only to serve the Soviet people (or its military). That’s how they dried up entire lakes and created such gnarly genetic disorders for some of their people. We made our own tries at it, but we backed off when we realized the danger it exposed our natural environment to (sadly, this also meant we outsourced a lot of our nuke testing to the South Pacific).

Anyways, it seems to me that any idea that makes us more like the Soviet Union, well, those ideas aren’t really good ones, are they? And this article only goes to prove the point. Officials say that a disaster of the type imagined by locals is unlikely. That’s what they said about the Deepwater Horizon going down, too.


2 T/S Member Comments Called Out, 4 Total Comments
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  1. collapse expand

    I have my own ideas about how nukes should be used in relation to the Gulf Spill; most of them involve Tony Hayward and a set of handcuffs.

  2. collapse expand

    Nuke the spill…the Chinese (supposedly) have a saying…”Do not remove a fly from your friend’s forehead with a hatchet.”. I like the vodka idea better.

  3. collapse expand

    By 1969, everyone was well aware of the effects of radiation and nuclear tests were regularly used to determine the impact of radiation, its persistence, etc. All of the major fission products of a nuclear bomb will have gone through many half lives after 40 years.

    Your post is proof that nuking the well is a bad idea politically, but I don’t think that was ever in doubt. The potential downside probably makes a bad idea practically, but no one that I’m aware of has actually made a compelling case for that point of view… DOD, Energy, etc won’t touch it for obvious reasons.

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