Obama Sends Nuclear Physist to Fix Oil Spill


Standing at the Portal
Oct 16, 2007
Barack Obama sends nuclear experts to tackle BP's Gulf of Mexico oil leak

The US has sent a team of nuclear physicists to help BP plug the "catastrophic" flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico from its leaking Deepwater Horizon well, as the Obama administration becomes frustrated with the oil giant's inability to control the situation.

The five-man team – which includes a man who helped develop the first hydrogen bomb in the 1950s – is the brainchild of Steven Chu, President Obama's Energy Secretary.

He has charged the men with finding solutions to stop the flow of oil.

President Obama yesterday promised a "relentless" effort to resolve the problem as he criticised the "cozy relationship" BP and other oil companies have with US regulators in Washington.

He also denounced the attempts by executives from BP, Transocean and Haliburtion to blame each other during this week's congressional hearings into the rig disaster. "I will not tolerate more finger pointing or irresponsibility." Mr Obama said.

The five scientists visited BP's main crisis centre in Houston earlier this week, along with Mr Chu, and are to continue to work with the company's scientists and external advisers to reach an answer.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mr Hayward said the five-hour meeting involved a "very deep dive" into the situation at hand, with "lots of nuclear physicists and all sorts of people coming up with some quite good ideas actually."

Pressed further about the meeting, he said they had "come up with one good idea" but declined to elaborate.

The five include 82-year-old Richard Garwin, who designed the first hydrogen bomb, and Tom Hunter, head of the US Department of Energy's Sandia National Labs.

In addition, Mr Chu has already despatched Marcia McNutt, the head of the US Geological Service, to the oil company.

Mr Hayward is understood to be feeling the weight of increased pressure from Washington, following Mr Chu and Interior Secterary Ken Salazar's visit earlier this week and a series of testy Congressional hearings.

In an memo to BP staff, Mr Hayward wrote that reports of the hearings had made for "difficult viewing or reading".

He has told a number of his senior team they must stay with him in Houston until the problem is resolved, and was seen in Louisiana meeting with Robert Dudley, executive vice-president of BP's operations in the Americas.

President Obama accused BP and its contractors of "falling over each other to point the finger of blame at someone else," while adding "the potential devastation to the Gulf Coast, its economy and its people require us to continue our relentless efforts to stop the leak."

Thad Allen, a Coast Guard commandant, said that the slick "has the potential to be catastrophic."

BP was last night trying to position a "top hat" containment device – intended to slow the flow of oil – while still working on its final "top-kill" solution which involves filling the well with old golf balls and pieces of car tyre, followed by mud and then cement, in an attempt to absorb and then stop the flow.

Here's more;

The Nuclear Option

By Gary Vey

It's so surreal... like a sci-fi movie. The earth is threatened by a huge hole in its crust, leaking crude oil like a highly pressurized volcano and threatening to kill all life in the oceans. The solution? The military detonate a nuclear bomb in an attempt to melt the cap rock and seal the leak.

But this is no science fiction. As reported on May 14th, Barack Obama sends nuclear experts to tackle BP's Gulf of Mexico oil leak:

The US has sent a team of nuclear physicists to help BP plug the "catastrophic" flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico from its leaking Deepwater Horizon well, as the Obama administration becomes frustrated with the oil giant's inability to control the situation.
Barack Obama has sent five nuclear experts to tackle BP's Gulf of Mexico oil leak. Mr Obama, standing with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, center, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, left, delivers remarks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington following his closed meeting with his Cabinet and other senior administration officials on the ongoing effort to stop the BP oil spill. The five-man team -- which includes a man who helped develop the first hydrogen bomb in the 1950s -- is the brainchild of Steven Chu, President Obama's Energy Secretary.

He has charged the men with finding solutions to stop the flow of oil.

How will this real sci-fi event end? Well, expers are saying that the leak will either be stopped by the extreme heat from a nuclear blast fusing the rocks surrounding the deep pipe -- or -- as one expert put it, "we could end up with a hole a quarter mile wide spewing oil... another possible scenario is a sea floor collapse. If that happens Katie bar the door."

What you have not been told

The well that BP had just about finished before it exploded was what is called a "deep oil" well. While it is true that the floating oil rig was almost a mile above the drill head, the oil that they tapped was yet another 30,000 feet (over 5 miles) under the ocean floor. Yes, that's aptly named "deep oil"! The deposit of oil they were tapping in to has been described as the second largest oil deposit ever -- anywhere -- even when one considers Saudi Arabia, the Russian discoveries, Iraq. This oil deposit has been estimated to have the potential to yield 500,000 barrels of oil per day for from 10 to 15 years!

The well that exploded and sank was cautiously tapping the fringe of the deposit after discovering that the central pressure of the oil and natural gas was as high as 165,000 to 170,000 psi. For comparison, your SUV tires usually contain 40 psi. The weight of a mile of ocean water plus 5 to 6 miles of caprock create enormous pressures on the pocket of hydrocarbons making it like a balloon ready to explode -- as it did when a small bubble of methane shot up the pipe and destroyed the oil rig.

According to insiders, the deposit is mostly natural gas -- a ratio of 10,000 to 1 -- with oil being a small portion of the bounty. It covers an estimated 25,000 square miles, extending from the inlands of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Texas. It's huge and, like a plump blister, it's ready to pop.

The pipe seen in the video [above] is 53 centimeters wide, (about 20 inches.)

The leak itself was originally estimated to be 1,000, then 5,000 and now 70,000 barrels of crude oil per day. The most recent estimates followed a review of video, taken of one of the leaking pipes from a deep submersible [Dr. Steve Wereley, Professor at Perdue University 1]. There are actually three leaks in all.

Ian MacDonald, a biological oceanographer at Florida State University, has compiled data showing that as much as 1 million gallons of oil a day may be flowing from the well. As of May 7 -- more than a week ago -- MacDonald estimated that 13 million gallons had been spilled in the Gulf, according to FSU. By comparison, the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska is estimated at 11 million gallons.

MacDonald used U.S. Coast Guard aerial overflight maps of the oil to estimate its surface area, "then applied standard guidelines to measure the thickness of the oil itself," the university said in a statement. "By combining the two, he was able to provide a revised estimate showing that the oil spill is far worse than originally believed."

When the methane shot up the pipe to the oil rig, the rig exploded and sank. As it sank it fell to one side of the well head, taking the connecting pipe with it. The pipe bent like a straw and formed kinks as it followed the sinking rig. Although the leaks are in the straight sections of the pipe, the kinks caused structural weakness and it is worried that they could be the site of future leaks.

This catastrophic event was foreseen. The oil industry has been drilling for about 50 years and the loss or damage to the pipes is a worse case scenario that is supposed to be protected by shut-off valves (called "blow out protectors" [right) located in a special housing at the well head. At the first sign of damage, a special acoustic (sound) signal can be sent to listening devices located on the housing which then activates the valves to close. Apparently this was not functioning and the valves either partially or totally failed to close.

Changes in the oil since the leak

Experts are concerned that the oil leak has changed, exhibiting a combination of natural gas, crude oil and (most worrying) rock particles. They theorize that the sudden release of the hydrocarbons from the deposit are taking some of the cap stone with it, eating away at the very structure that has naturally contained the deposit for aeons. Eventually this scouring of the rock could result in a collapse of the capstone and a catastrophic release of the pressurized gas and oil. But with 5 miles of stone to eat, this scouring could be some time to come.

More worrisome is the abrasive effect that this could be having on the inside of the pipe itself. The pressurized rock is in effect a huge sand-blaster that can easily weaken it and create new holes -- especially right at the well head itself.

Is the nuke option for real?

Unfortunately, it is. And it would not be the first time this was done.

Back in 1963, a poorly drilled natural gas well in the Soviet Union exploded and caught fire. The result was what was described as a blow torch about 120 meters high that had the sound of 100 jets and was so hot that it was almost impossible to approach. It continued to blow for three years and showed no signs of slowing. The flow was calculted at 12-million cubic centimeters of gas per day! Soviet scientists eventually drilled towards the area of the leak at an angle and inserted a nuclear bomb which detonated and fused the leak. (Images of the above gas leak have been censored and are hard to find.)

While that leak was successfully capped, others, like the one in Turkmenistan, called "The Door in Hell" have not been stopped and continue to burn after almost 40 years [below]. Billions of cubic cenimeters of natural gas have been burned up and countless tons of CO2 have been put in the atmosphere. It was decided that either every possible solution was already tried, and failed, or that other solutions were far too dangerous and might make the situation worse.


The Soviet natural gas well was very different from the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. It was located in the middle of a desert with sparse flora, fauna or human life to deal with the resulting radiation. The BP well, on the other hand, is just 100 miles off the shore of Louisiana and lies right in the midst of the most productive fishing and oceanic ecosystems. Winds routinely blow on shore from the location of the oil leak. Weighing the risks to the environment plus the possibilities of making the catastrophe even worse against a continuation of the oil leak that may do the same damage if left unchecked... is quite a difficult decision to make.

In sci-fi movies the ending is almost always happy. Will this be?

Right now the approach being used to solve this dilema is, at best, lame. Small fishing boats are sent out to scoop up tiny acre size patches of floating crude [above] while, as seen from above, hundreds of square miles have already been sullied with deadly, red paste. Oceanographers tell us that it doesn't take much oil to kill life in the oceans. Since so much of the life cycles in the water depend on oxygenizing at the surface, covering the water with an impenetrable layer rapidly kills organisms that require air. And it doesn't take much oil to do this -- even a thin slick can be deadly.

But the oil does even more damage as it settles on the ocean floor. Shrimp, lobsters and shellfish make their habitat on the ocean bottom. Once the oil get down there it's almost impossible to clean up. This is not only a death sentence for marine organisms but for the entire Gulf coast economy, who rely on fishing and tourism for their survival. One can only imagine that, if a nuclear option was used to seal the oil leak, would anyone feel safe eating fish or shrimp from those same waters? Would anyone want to swim or vacation near there?

If you think these ideas are not seriously being considered -- think again. CBS News, The Christian Science Monitor and other news sources have been boldly exploring this solution in editorials.

What do YOU think?

UPDATE: May 15, 2010 -- The latest attempt is to insert a tube in the end of the bent pipe [below], vacuuming out the oil before it has a chance to enter the ocean. Although BP officials admit it will not be 100% effective, they appear optimistic that it will improve the situation.



perpetual student
Dec 3, 2007
Texas, USA
We are not very good caretakers of the earth. I hope for the best with the wildlife. There are 10 wildlife refuges in danger due to that oil. The problem is that the wildlife have nowhere else to go. On the refuge, where I volunteer with the "Friends" org in central TX, the 2 endangered songbirds do fly everywhere; but will not nest anywhere else. That's the same for those wildlife creatures in the Gulf.

Washington, DC- The National Wildlife Refuge Association, which works with tens of thousands of volunteers across the country in support of the 150-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, today launched a Gulf oil spill relief fund and volunteer registry. With oil expected to severely impact critical wildlife refuge habitat in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, funds and volunteers will be vital in supporting the efforts of local volunteer refuge "Friends" organizations.

"There are 20 national wildlife refuges in the immediate path of the oil spill, and they depend on Friends organization volunteers to provide critical support to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service professionals," said Evan Hirsche, President of the National Wildlife Refuge Association. "20% of the work done on our federal refuges is already being done by volunteers; the disaster in the Gulf is going to require an even greater volunteer commitment."

While BP must be held accountable for clean up costs, groups such as the Friends of Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge on the Alabama coast are doing whatever they can to help refuge professionals now to prepare for oil which is expected to reach their refuge by the weekend. Friends groups and volunteers at refuges in the path of the spill will assist refuge staff gather as much baseline data as possible before the oil makes landfall. From water samples to bird, mammal and turtle counts, Friends will help refuge staff accurately detail what could be lost.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has identified an additional five national wildlife refuges that are under most immediate threat by the oil spill: Delta NWR, LA; Breton NWR, LA; Bayou Sauvage NWR, LA; Grand Bay NWR, MS and Mississippi Sandhill Crane NWR, MS. These refuges are historically and ecologically significant and the timing of the spill could not happen at a worse time. Birds that are nesting right now include wading birds such as egrets and herons, seabirds, and beach nesters that live in large colonies, such as gulls, terns and skimmers. Contact with a drop of oil as small a dime can cause fatalities in many birds.

The National Wildlife Refuge Association works with more than 220 Refuge Friends Groups throughout the country, of which 192 are affiliates. These local not-for-profit organizations along with dedicated volunteers nationwide are crucial to protecting our national wildlife refuges and Americas wildlife heritage.

To donate to NWRA's fund, register to volunteer, or learn about how oil will impact Gulf refuges and wildlife, visit:

The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge Association is to conserve America's wildlife heritage for future generations through strategic programs that protect, enhance, and expand the National Wildlife Refuge System and the landscapes beyond its boundaries that secure its ecological integrity.


New member
Apr 10, 2006
Northern Ky.
Sounds like another stupid idea to me - the nuclear option! :roll: There's been
enough damage done to the ocean and environment already without nuclear.
:( :twisted: I do agree w/Obama about the finger pointing tho; they're all at fault!


In seaerch of spicy food
Aug 8, 2009
As a chemist, I have to ask. What the hell does a nuclear physicist know about oil????


Standing at the Portal
Oct 16, 2007
Original Poster
the article states that the thought is to detonate a nuclear bomb to close the the hole into the cavern of oil that is so freaking huge it could potentially destroy all of the atlantic and carribean sea with spilled oil!

This hole leads to one of the largest oil reserves in the world that traverses under Texas, Lousiana, Alabama, and Florida. It has more natural gas than oil in a 10 to 1 ratio. It is highly explosive.

They are getting more worried because the hole is releasing framents of rock, which indicates that the integrity of the well is degrading and may break further.

The well goes through a 5 mile deep rock bed. A nuclear bomb detination may be able to close it.... is what they are thinking. Nuclear physists have been meeting with geologists.

Mad Scientest

New member
Apr 11, 2006
This hole leads to one of the largest oil reserves in the world that traverses under Texas, Lousiana, Alabama, and Florida. It has more natural gas than oil in a 10 to 1 ratio. It is highly explosive.
Wait a minute how can that be!!? There can't be that much oil down there. Why haven't we been told since like the mid 1920"s that we are on the verge of running out of oil and we need to get used to paying higher and higher prices for it? These experts couldn't have been lying to us all these years could they? :D:D:D

Now the experts are exploring the possibility of an nuclear explosion to seal the hole. Sounds sort of feasible, might even work if there are enough redundant safety backups, in that case why there is nothing that could go wrong, go wrong, go wrong.:roll:

Speaking of redundant safety features didn't that oil platform have redundant safety backups? Was it really just a strange quark of fate that they all failed. :confused:


Standing at the Portal
Oct 16, 2007
Original Poster
Actually a series of events occured over weeks that set the who deal up. I have the cbs interview on it but will have to post the link tomorrow. BP is fully responsible through neglect.

and yes, its appears that we have been lied to about our oil capacity. It takes something like this for the truth to seep out, along with all the oil