June 3, 2010

Can the oil leak in the Gulf be plugged with a nuclear bomb?

Posted: 07:28 AM ET

(Via NYTimes)

The chatter began weeks ago as armchair engineers brainstormed for ways to stop the torrent of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico: What about nuking the well?

Decades ago, the Soviet Union reportedly used nuclear blasts to successfully seal off runaway gas wells, inserting a bomb deep underground and letting its fiery heat melt the surrounding rock to shut off the flow. Why not try it here?

The idea has gained fans with each failed attempt to stem the leak and each new setback — on Wednesday, the latest rescue effort stalled when a wire saw being used to slice through the riser pipe got stuck.

(Read more HERE)

Tune in TONIGHT at 9pmet to see our EXCLUSIVE interview with President Obama – we'll be discussing the oil spill and what can be done to stop the leak!

Filed under: Larry King Live • Politics is King • President Obama

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erin   June 3rd, 2010 7:44 am ET

Why won't BP ask for the help from engineers of other oil giants? Maybe Obama should make a "presidential Request" to these other companies and their engineers to brainstorm any ideas that might work...because all of BP's efforts have failed!!

jami   June 3rd, 2010 8:24 am ET

It brings me great sadness to think of all the families and wildlife depended on the gulf, and what a disaster this has become! I feel BP shouldn't get away with such a big mistake! I pray for our ocean and all that effected by this terrible accident!

Senior from Southern Ill.   June 3rd, 2010 8:34 am ET

Nuclear Bomb? Wait a minute here....just the thought of this is frightening to say the least...and for one to seal the oil leak poses even more serious serious thinking......what if the bomb would detonate enroute to location or what if you'd use it and it only made the oil leak bigger and bigger...mercy....I would think there is something that could be done besides this....think of the devastation in long mankind and all the animal life in the gulf.... I veto this idea from get way use nuclear weapon of any kind to stop this leak..

Dick Commr   June 3rd, 2010 8:48 am ET

Larry King is meeting the President today. How about Larry mentioning the following to him...
if the workers cleaning up the oil spill are getting sick from inhaling the oil and chemicals and BP is too cheap or unwilling to do it (to provide the necessary protection for their breathing), why can't the US government send down a quantity of masks to protect these men? Many of the workers as you know are landing in the hospital with similar symptoms. Why can't the US government send help to them now?
If that is impossible, what about American manufacturers of these face mask devices? These people need help now.

Scott   June 3rd, 2010 8:49 am ET

Good point Erin. Everyone is blaming BP for being unprepared, but what about Exxon, Texaco, Chevron and Shell? Are they prepared? If they are, then why don't they make some of their preparations available to mitigate this crisis faster? They aren't helping because they are no more prepared than BP was.

sam   June 3rd, 2010 8:54 am ET

Some brilliant idea! The proponents of it must have thought that oil-polluted seafood and beaches aren't bad enough, they also want to make them radiative.

Rabbi samuel Hurt   June 3rd, 2010 8:56 am ET

Mr President,
It is your job to exhaust every option to stop this spill. Certainly, you have not entertained my idea, nor did you even have enough respect to even inquire of me when visiting Pittsburgh, PA on Wednesday! To say the least, I campaigned for you, made calls, walked door to door, and even applied for a job, but you don't seem to care about us little folk residing in the ghettoes of America! I don't care if you don't allow this plan to go forward. It's up to the American people...And when they get tired of BP and you, they'll elect someone in 2012 who sides with them....the following is the plan I submitted on May 24, 2010:

After numerous calls and postings, having realized that there are thousands of people giving responses, I now am submitting my response through youtube to: DeepwaterHorizonJIC on this 24th day of May, 2010: It is to be ... See Moreunderstood that if this... See More plan is implemented in any part thereof:
it is the soul responsibility of BP Oil Company to offer in consideration the amount of 1Billion Dollars to Rabbi Samuel L Hurt, Jr., DBA, Shalom Construction Company, also AKA, Chevarim Ben Hashem, a soul proprietorship doing business in the state of PA PA., Located at 2650 Perrysville Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15214...Phone: 412-513-8366 cell and 412-323-0384!

I do posess and say that I being a man of modest means, having a brain and having acquired training while serving in the US States Navy, as an Engineman aboard US Naval Ships, and a past Employee of the Norfolk Naval Shipyard located in Portsmouth, VA working as a rigger, that the following plan was adopted through the principles obtained and learnt while operating ship equipment and machinery and replacement of valves pertaining to ballast functions:

Over all plan: Modify an oil tanker by cutting a hole into one of the ballast tanks, install a series of eye hooks around the haul of the tanker on the port and starboard sides to accommodate steel cables connected to booms, install an series of anchors as to allow and direct the tanker to be lowered and sanked directed toward the gusher opening, and lowering it directly on to the gusher.

1) Remove all debrie, equipment, and platforms so that the tanker will have clear access to the opening
2) Modify the tanker, the opening (to be designed), the valves and ballast system for intake from the gusher, and re direction of oil flow through the ballast system for storage of the oil....allowing later for vacuum, as to retrieve oil from ballast tanks
3) Have on standby portable submarine, robots, and whatever equipment deemed neccessary for the operation, all to be determined by BP Technical Staff, US Naval Support Team, US Coast Guard, and Shalom Construction Co.

It is to be unstood that the tanker will be permanent, and future modification and maintence proceedures must be implored to monitor and maintain the oil flow until a new well can be drilled. This system plan could possibly be modified to future use in combating oil spills in the future, and allowing deeper drilling to take place!

It is to be further understood that if any part of this plan is adopted, and put into action, BP Oil acknowledges that it's application is the result of ideas based on the technology and support offered through the above mentioned tech support developed prior by Shalom Construction Company working in co operation with BP Oil Company.

Any and all parts of this plan acquired over the internet by any other individual, suggesting that a tanker be modified and lowered and sanked in the ocean is to be acknowledged as property information developed by Shalom Construction C0...Any plans submitted after May 24, 2010 @ Approx: 8:38 am detailing similar details is to be acknowledged as coming from this plan!

Developed by:
Title Subject: Method to contain oil at its source and storage process:
Rabbi Samuel Hurt, DBA, Shalom Construction C0., AKA, Chevarim Ben Hashem

cc: President Obama

News Media


May 24 at 8:50am

Ted   June 3rd, 2010 9:11 am ET

@ jami

I am glad you pray for our ocean, it thanks you for it! In addition the oil gush was also decreased.
You would do better if you visit your congressman and ask him how did he vote on this issue when the regulations on big oil was changed?
Beat him if he voted yes, because he is one of them who are responsible for this great disaster..

Wini   June 3rd, 2010 9:25 am ET

I wrote my solution in the another post regarding the oil disaster ... as follows:

Wini June 3rd, 2010 5:44 am ET

Why aren't oil tankers with containing holds surrounding the oil spill using some type of suction machines to suck up the oil, pouring it onto their holding containers ? It may not be the final solution, but AT LEAST IT'S A START to DOING SOMETHING instead of destroying our gulf coast. As one oil tankers holds are full, bring in the 2nd, then the 3rd tanker. The filled tankers can sail off to BP's staff who can keep said mixture in their on shore holding tanks. After the mixture settles, the oil will rise to the top and the water will settle to the bottom of the tank.

Everyone knows water and oil doesn't mix. Oil is lighter than water and will rise to the top. Keep the oil that is sucked from the gulf where the leak is ... place in holding tanks for a few days. Empty off the water which will be at the bottom of the tank and put this water again in another holding tank. Let that settle for a few days and repeat the natural process of settling. After repeating this process for a few months, you will have the oil in holding tanks and clean water in the other holding tanks.


Debra Tuten   June 3rd, 2010 10:11 am ET

They should force all the BP executives onto a boat with no protective equipment and force them to stay in the Gulf until this mess is cleaned up!

Kathleen Akins   June 3rd, 2010 10:18 am ET

Please ask Pres. Obama to respond to his PROMISE that he would have the most open and most ethical administration. Everything he promised was just another politician running for office. I've never felt more deceived in my voting life.

Laura   June 3rd, 2010 10:18 am ET

One idea you may share with President Obama is for the US to hire US oil workers that were laid off by companies like Chevron (just before they qualified for retirement) therefore offering jobs to qualified people who can creatively solve this crisis. Then the US should charge BP via a fine to pay for those resources and the long-term sustainability and rebuild of the area.

Deborah   June 3rd, 2010 10:35 am ET

Will you share this with the President?
There are two issues.
1. Stopping the oil leak.
2. Cleaning up the oil and preventing it from spreading.

I understand that it is the responsibility of BP to stop the leak; however, is there someone in charge, on-site, to direct all efforts to prevent the oil from reaching sensitive marshlands as well as other coastlines? Have you used all of the assets at your disposal – Navy, National Guard?

I am a graduate student studying Natural Resources, and I understand the importance of wetlands/marshlands.

We are behind you as you tackle this enormous issue.

maurice breuer   June 3rd, 2010 11:21 am ET

the idee of using ships equiped with the so called oil collection booms is a valed one but the problem was that there where no ships with that equipement present as far as we in the netherlands know only 2 or 3 days ago plains carrying those devices left the netherlands on route to the us with a team on the next flight to help install them onto ships and instruct in there operation
if the information from the dutch company's involved is correct and if bp has been honest abou t the amount of oil leacking those oil collection systems should be able to clean up the oil still off shore and on the surface so then only the submerged oil clouds and the beached oil should be a clean up problem .

Scott   June 3rd, 2010 11:31 am ET

BP may have made some mistakes and they will bear the responsibility, but they were just trying to get the oil that Americans demand more than any other country in the world. This could have just as easily happened to Exxon, Shell, Chevron or any other oil company.

When space shuttles blew up on launch or burned up on re-entry, we conducted investigations but we didn't talk about criminal prosecution of NASA officials. They were performing a complex, dangerous job, things went wrong and good people died but they weren't crinimally negligent.

The same is almost always true when a major aircraft accident happens, we keep flying and try to make sure we are doing it as safely as possible. We also keep mining coal to produce electricity even though mining accidents will never be completely eliminated.

Offshore oil production in deep water is difficult, it's not going to get any easier in the future as oil companies are forced to explore in deeper water to find more of the 85 million barrels of oil that the world uses every day. Accidents will sometimes happen just as with any other major industry. Imagine what spills like this will be like in the Arctic where any oil that is released will be trapped under ice that may be hundreds of feet thick and completely inaccessible for clean-up.

Industrialized countries use lots of oil and we buy it from companies like BP who have good people working in very demanding conditions. We should work with BP to end this spill as quickly as possible and stop blaming them for a tragic accident that killed 11 of their workers. Who takes the blame for making onshore drilling prohibited in many less challenging locations or in shallower waters closer to shore? Who is it that allows drilling near Lousisiana and Texas but not near California or Florida? Who certified that the Deepwater Horizon Rig was safe to operate? Who approved BP's requests to use less safe casing concrete and to remove drilling mud before plugs were installed?

People who want to put all the blame for this on BP had better be riding bicycles to work, otherwise they are part of the problem too.

Evan Kelley   June 3rd, 2010 11:49 am ET

I think a radio-active, toxic nuclear soup on the Gulf Coast is one of the most, interesting (for lack of better words) of the solutions thrown on the table yet...

Scott   June 3rd, 2010 2:35 pm ET

The answer is probably yes.
An improvised nuclear device could be small enough to fit down a relief well bore.
Position it near the leaking well bore and detonate at a spot chosen so that the explosion would not derange the ocean floor above or the oil reservoir below.
A properly sized device would collapse the leaking well bore and the intense heat would fuse the subsurface material into a solid concrete-like mass that would block the upward movement of any more oil or gas.
Clearly this would be a risky approach but if the leak continued for a year and another deadly blow out occurred on one of the relief wells this might be the last resort. Conventional explosives might not be powerful enough to pack enough energy into the small size that would fit into a drill pipe and they would not produce enough heat to fuse subsurface material into a solid mass.

gerald Jolly   June 3rd, 2010 4:46 pm ET

Very ASTUTE question to ask.

Yes a nuclear device could stop the oil flow in the GULF, but first PETER PETER PUMKIN EATER would have to stop EATING PUMKINS

To ask that question only leaves one to wonder.


Lucy   June 3rd, 2010 6:40 pm ET

I loved your interview with Bill Gates and his dad. I admire Bill Gates for how he's using his great wealth.

I loved the story about how his mom pushed him to attend an event at which Warren Buffett and Katherine Graham would be attending. I admire both.

I wish you'd gone back to ask him about Katherine Graham. Perhaps he wouldn't have had much to say. But, as a great admirer of Katherine Graham (great autobiography!), I would have loved to hear what Gates had to say.

gerald Jolly   June 3rd, 2010 6:41 pm ET

Brilliant idea "FOR A MORON" that is.

"LETS NUKE THE GULF" say the Repugnants and Tea Baggers.

Sarah Palin has offered to volunteer to fly over and drop the NUKE.

Might not be such a bad idea after all, as long as she agrees to fly as low as she does when she is hunting and killing moose.

Yup, lets stop the oil flow and contaminate the entire Gulf of Mexico for the next 100years

Great idea Hu!

gerald Jolly   June 3rd, 2010 6:45 pm ET


Desperate people do desperate things.

Just ask the former President Bush, A.K.A. "THE BUSHWACKER"

This would be a typical response from him and DICKHEAD CHEYNEY

Brian Paul   June 3rd, 2010 6:54 pm ET

Mr President:

Please spend some time tomorrow going into the Marshlands. Use Billy Nungesser as your pilot on a trip there in an air boat. I know those boats don't take many people, but security can be arranged. You need to be a witness for us of the destruction to this precious environment, which is after all, our property.

Also, please stop by some BBQ place or Cajun Restaurant, and do so unannounced. You need to hear from the real people who this is affecting, to the point that it may destroy not only the local environment but also livelihoods, and generations-long traditions.

Mr. President, you may not be a "touchy feely" kind of guy, but even Queen Elizabeth, the most unemotional of all political leaders was far more hands on and in contact with the general public during the Battle of Britain than you have been so far.

Please emulate her inspiration at this time of equal darkness and uncertainty.

Brian Paul

Brian Edgar   June 3rd, 2010 10:59 pm ET

I always assumed the nuclear option would be "side nuke" with the nuke in a shaft next to the offending shaft, the idea being to totally crush and create discontinuities in the offending shaft with a blast from the side. Every impression I get is that the government has looked at such an option and sought all the options they could get. The administration has kept the relief drilling going continuously overriding objections, what more can they do? If the administration does get hung out to dry for the response, I think it will be in areas like ensuring clean-up worker safety, failing to force BP to stop using this deadly dispersant, not jailing the thugs who are intimidating journalists, etc. I will say it's been only recently that I've seen any news coverage of the administration's response, and so maybe they've done their best to protect clean-up crews but we just haven't heard about it on the news.

Brian Edgar

derviche   June 4th, 2010 12:25 am ET

God help us

Andy   June 4th, 2010 4:58 pm ET

Hey guys. You're a God fearing nation. Why not just stop it with the power of prayer? Let me know how you get on 😉

Andy S. Kydes   June 4th, 2010 6:00 pm ET

The question that keeps haunting me is the following:

Why do the relief wells have to be drilled down to the oil reservoir level if the only thing they will be used for is to plug the well permanently? I hear on news reports that two relief wells are being drilled, one that is already at least 7,000 feet below the sea bed and another which is at least 4,000 feet below. Using horizontal drill techniques, why can't the well be plugged using the deepest relief well or by the two when they are at the same depth as the current deepest well. The pressures are enormous at those depths and the chance for success seem to me to be the same as it would be at the much deeper reservoir depth. If the deepest well fails, they can continue trying with the other well at slightly later date. Why delay and spew more oil contamination and environmental damage into the Gulf? If someone knows the technical reason, I'd love to know it. Thanks.


Michael Richard   June 5th, 2010 7:47 am ET

OK, enough already – we KNOW that this well will not be sealed by conventional means. The devastation to the Gulf Coast waters so far are incredible; computer models show that months more of this catastrophe will allow oil to pollute all of Florida (both coasts) as well as impacting the coastline of the entire southeastern seaboard of the United States.

If this can be stopped by a small-yield atomic bomb, then WHY haven't we used it already??!?

geeper   June 7th, 2010 1:44 am ET

Okay, "nuking" the gulf is NOT like the horrible movies you were all shown in elementary school complete with mushroom clouds and nuclear winters! A low-level device is very localized and underground which means that radiation would be at lower-levels than Hiroshima and contained under the sea floor, so nothing above would be radioactive. Please do your homework before you go off all fear-monger knee-jerk!

The relief wells that are being drilled are just for that...relief. They relieve the pressure on the main shaft and could potentially eliminate the oil spilling from it. What you need to keep in mind is the fact that oil deposits, water "wells" too, are not like balloons. They are not hollow spaces filled with liquid. They are more like sponges that the oil has migrated to due to pressure. Remember, liquid will always take the course of least resistance. When we drill a "well," we drill a hole into the porous rock and allow the liquid to gather in one place so that we can pump it out. Pressure helps as the well is drilled and pressure released, the liquid comes out easier. The reason this spill is so bad is one; it's more than a mile under the ocean, and two; the pressure down that far is incredible!

Again, please read up and do homework before making all kinds of assumptions and knee-jerk reactions to any suggestions. (oh, and for all of you who think this whole thing is caused by our reliance on gasoline, do some research into how many things YOU use every day that come from petrol! like the cell phone you just can't live without, and the laptop you are using to read this...just saying.)

Alex   June 7th, 2010 11:04 am ET

I am not sure about an "A-Bomb." But, couldn't such a hemorrhage be cauterized with a chemical or nuclear reactor lowered to the target site? I would think that this approach might be successful and limit the collateral some of the damage (contamination). Could a chemical combination be controlled as to initiate a caloric reaction when the core is placed on target or nuclear control rods be removed and inserted to a reactor core after lowering it on target?

1111cb   June 8th, 2010 9:21 pm ET

TO all submitting suggestions- if you have gone to the Deepwater Horizon website and it failed, I have been trying to send stuff to the local politicians invested in fixing this so they demand these ideas. Costner presented to the locals and his invention was bought up by I think Alabama

Joshua Shepherd   June 9th, 2010 3:00 pm ET

Honestly people, you are worried about radiation? They wouldn't use a fission device. A low-yield thermonuclear fusion bomb, like the 30-kiloton ones used for this by the Soviets, would create no radiation. And beyond that, if you would just do a little research, the plan being considered is to detontate the device at around 3,000 meters below the surface of the seabed. At that depth, they could light off a fission bomb the size of the one that we dropped on Hiroshima, and the radiation would be trapped by the molten rock as it cooled, long before it reached the surface. This is a solution. It is a safe solution, and it's an effective one. If the relief wells fail, God forbid it, we may not have a choice.

Stephanie schear   June 11th, 2010 7:52 am ET

I would like to know how these people who built this well, and that includes haliburton, mr dickey cheney, were allowed to build it in this depth of water, without the , as we now know, safety features!
Why weren't they required to have several sonar shut-off valves?
I understand that in Europe, they have to have these divices.
I also understand that it would have cost BP $500,000.00 to have ruses
Shut off valves in place? This is one more example of how greed is distorting our beautiful country, and these people at the top, ie Bp ,AIG,
Goldman sacks, ect. just di not give a damn about what could happen
In our country! I still keep hearing in my head , over and over, how the bush administration would say "deregulation, deregulation! Well, this is where your "god forsaken deregulation has gotten us! You should all be ashamed of yourselves!!! I want to start hearing about when this well was built, and was Dickey Cheney, working for Halaburton at that time!

Stephanie schear   June 11th, 2010 8:05 am ET

I too, agree with Joshua Shepherd! This was one of my first ideas, and I think it should be seriously concidered! We can do this and the longer it takes to come up with a better solution, the worse things are going to get!
Remember, we have a hurricane season approaching us!

Sandra Levin   June 30th, 2010 10:28 pm ET

Oil, nukes, chemical dispersants. All I can think of is those poor sea creatures. I feel like it's the end of the Gulf. This whole thing is SO SAD.

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