Archive for May 11th, 2010


Ramping Up the Risk

May 11, 2010

The Gulf Oil Spill is fast shaping up to be one of the worst environmental calamities in US history. As it happens, some of our friends who may know a thing or two about insane environmental disasters, have recommended that we just nuke the place into stability.

Komsomoloskaya Pravda, the best-selling Russian daily, reports that in Soviet times such leaks were plugged with controlled nuclear blasts underground. The idea is simple, KP writes: “the underground explosion moves the rock, presses on it, and, in essence, squeezes the well’s channel.”

Yes! It’s so simple, in fact, that the Soviet Union, a major oil exporter, used this method five times to deal with petrocalamities. The first happened in Uzbekistan, on September 30, 1966 with a blast 1.5 times the strength of the Hiroshima bomb and at a depth of 1.5 kilometers. KP also notes that subterranean nuclear blasts were used as much as 169 times in the Soviet Union to accomplish fairly mundane tasks like creating underground storage spaces for gas or building canals.

And why not? What’s the possible harm in trying out a technology to stop what will potentially be the greatest environmental disaster the US has ever seen. If it’s already going to be the greatest environmental disaster, what could it hurt to pile a bit more disaster on top of that disaster?