The Russians Have a Helpful Suggestion About the Deepwater Horizon Oil Leak: Nuke It!
Gotta hand it to the Russians, when it comes to dealing with problems, they don’t mess around. They just get the biggest hammer they can find, and problem solved, one way tother. Using nuclear weapons to stop an oil spill? That’s insane, right? Well, no, not really. Nuclear weapons were used five times by the Soviet Union to stop oil and gas well blowouts. And four out of five times, it worked. And no, they didn’t just drop a bomb on the leak, they drilled a hole near the leaking well, and set off the bomb, as much as a mile underground. And the pressure from the blast simply squeezed the leaking well shut. No muss, no fuss. And the one time it didn’t work, it was likely because the bomb wasn’t positioned properly. So is this a possible solution to the Deepwater Horizon leak? Well, probably not. The Russian wells that were stopped this way were all on land, not a mile under the sea. It may be feasible, but I’m guessing this would be pretty much a last gasp measure if all other attempts fail. Still, always nice that the Russians are trying to be helpful.
The ugly truth is that problems like this can be infernally difficult to stop. Note the image above. That’s the infamous “Door to Hell” in Usbekistan, IE the former Soviet Union. In 1971 geologists were drilling for gas. Well, they hit a natural cavern full of gas, which promptly swallowed up their drilling rig and equipment. No problem, just set fire to the escaping gas, burn it off, and work could resume. Well, 35 years later, the gas is still escaping and burning. A giant burning crater in the middle of a barren desert. Since no one knows just where the gas is coming from, nuclear weapons won’t do the trick. And while this is producing a lot of CO2, natural gas is an even worse greenhouse gas, so I suppose it’s a silver lining that it’s still burning.
In another intractable drilling problem, the mud volcano that started near Surabaya in Indonesia in 2006 is still going strong. It has displaced nearly 60,000 people at this point, and all attempts to stop it have failed. The company that was doing the drilling claims that an earthquake started the volcano, not their drilling. It was just a coincidence. Yeah, right. Scientists have been pretty sure all along that the drilling started the volcano, and a recent report makes an even stronger case that this is so. How long will this eruption go on? Who knows, 30 years is possible by some estimates. The area is sinking as mud continues to flow, and new fissures have opened up, some even spewing natural gas. Yes, even a tossed cigarette could turn this situation into a muddy door to hell. Yikes.
Back to America, how bad is the Deepwater Horizon leak, anyhow? Could it leak for years? Well, if uncapped, yes. There are conflicting reports on exactly how much oil is indeed leaking. It’s a good bet it’s already as bad as the Exxon Valdez spill, and possibly it’s already much worse. This is going to cause billions of dollars in economic damage even if it’s capped tomorrow. Fortunately BP will have to compensate people for this damage, right? Wrong. Fortunately for BP, Federal Law limits liability for damage in oil spills to $75 million dollars. That’s right, no matter how many billions of dollars in damage this does, BP doesn’t have to cough up more than pocket change to compensate people. This is like having a Federal law that limits an individual to a maximum of 75 cents worth of liability if a person causes an automobile accident. Boy, that would be sweet, wouldn’t it?
This was the purpose of this post, well, aside from mentioning the fun facts about the door to hell and the mud volcano. This one law illustrates both how utterly corrupt and totally owned by corporate interests our government is, and exactly what is meant when people say that in the USA profits are privatized and losses are socialized. If BP makes a huge profit, it goes into the offshore accounts of people who are already rich beyond comprehension. If they screw up and cause billions of dollars in damage, the taxpayer picks up the tab. Works the same way in the financial industry too, for those who have been in a coma for a few years. And with laws like this, corporations have zero incentive to prevent accidents, in fact they have every incentive to cut every corner they can when it comes to preventing accidents.
In other words this is a wonderful example of the cancer at the heart of our society and way of life that is going to destroy us all. The rich get richer and the rest of us are slowly but surely being transformed into little more than serfs. This one little accident alone is going to cost each and every American cold hard cash, most of whom will either be ignorant of this, or fall for the dog and pony show that we call politics in America now, and blame the “other” party. The ship is going down, the rich have already taken the only lifeboat, and most of the people left on board are fighting over whether it was the liberals or the conservatives fault. Yeah, that’s a productive debate.
In any event, tomorrow I think I will post about cosmology since I need something to wash the oil stains out of my brain.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit, its use here in no way interferes with the copyright holder’s commercial use of the image, and I’m a pretty pro-Russian American blogger so I hope any Russian copyright holders can forgive me. Credit and copyright: English Russia. And by Pro-Russian I of course do not mean anti-American, just that I appreciate and respect Russia and the Russian take on things, and frankly I think the USA should ally with Russia and give up our ultimately suicidal attempt to rule the world.)