The Corner

Nuke the Gulf, Or It Will Become Obama’s Bay of Rigs

Now comes the news that BP’s latest effort to stem the Deepwater Horizon leak (this is Plan F, for those of you keeping score at home) hit a snag — literally — when the saw being used to lop off a section of damaged drill pipe seized up.

What’s that old saying? Don’t bring a remote-controlled submarine diamond saw to a low-yield tactical nuclear warhead fight? That’s why my homepage piece today argues that the best solution to the Gulf spill might be to blow it up.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that when I pitched this idea to Rich, he leaned back in his chair, tented his fingers conspiratorially and said, “You mean we can argue that the solution to an environmental disaster is a nuclear detonation? Yes, yes that will do quite nicely.” And indeed, that is precisely what happened.

But the fact is that the nuclear option is perhaps the last one on the table that stands a reasonable chance not just of containing the leak, but of stopping it cold — and quickly. Besides, unleashing the power of the atom under miles of rock and water is something the United States got quite good at in the 1940s and 50s. In fact, we exploded thermonuclear devices in the Pacific and the American Southwest that were orders of magnitude larger than the little-old-fashioned A-bomb it’d take to collapse the drill channel in the Gulf, and those sites have all pretty much fully recovered. And unlike the nuclear testing at, say, Bikini atoll, a Gulf blast could be orchestrated so as to contain virtually all radioactivity inside the oceanic crust.

Still, one worried reader wondered whether a sufficiently large conventional explosive couldn’t do the job. Not so much. Consider that we’re talking about a 20-30 kiloton nuke here — itsy-bitsy by Armageddon standards, sure, but our largest piece of conventional military ordinance (the “Mother of All Bombs“) is a little over nine tons.

Now, do I think there is a good chance that President Obama is willing to go down as the man who nuked the Gulf? I do not. But every second that saw blade remains stuck makes the nuclear option sound just a little less crazy.

Again, read the whole article here.


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