You can't persuade anyone who has made up their minds.
With the announcement that the Soviets used nuclear blast generated shock waves to collapse well pipes on multiple occasions, I am sure the Navy will prepare and present a proposal somewhat similar to my plan to the President. If he gives the go ahead I hope the community can deal with it.
Update: From trueslant:
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.
I doubt there will be much support for this idea, but I believe the source of the oil spill in the gulf can be stopped tomorrow with little adverse effects, except to create a relatively small region that will be off limits to deep water drilling due to radioactive contamination on the sea floor, with a bonus in that the shock-wave will atomize the oil that is within a few miles of the source.
The first thing I would like to bring to your attention is the fact that the oil reservoir is actually 13,000 feet below the sea floor and the drilling rig created a tube that is only a few feet in diameter along that 13,000 foot line. The easiest way to stop the oil flow is to create a shake the ocean floor with a small earthquake centered off to one side and collapse that pipe.
We have set off over 2000 nuclear weapons on this planet between 1945 and 1996 according to a lecture by Princeton University Professor Alexander Glasser (Search here for "the effects of nuclear weapons"). We have been using the data collected to model nuclear explosions since the advent of computers. Our military must know what to expect from an underwater blast in the range of 1 mile underwater.
The U. S. Military was known to develop an extremely low yet variable yield nuclear weapon. The Davy Crockett had a yield that was variable from .01 to 1Kt and was in service until 1971. I doubt it would have been discontinued without a replacement. The Davy Crockett weighed 76# and it's successor would be perfect for this emergency.
A small deep sea submersible could easily carry the device inside it's pressure controlled section to eliminate the variable of water pressure and temperature. A detonation circuit wired directly to the controls of the submersible through the tether could be quickly rigged. An operator could control the submersible via radio control from a sacrificial unmanned control craft on the surface. The device would be detonated once an exclusion zone was established around the drill site.
A 1Kt yield is extremely small compared to the devices we have used before. The Little Boy blast was estimated to be between 13 and 18 Kt and Fat Man was between 20 to 22Kt. Our largest above ground test was a 13.5Mt test of the Runt II devise detonated on May 5, 1954, at Bikini Atoll.
We conducted a test of a device 2000ft underwater in Operation Wigwam on May 14, 1955, about 500 miles southwest of San Diego, California.
The test was carried out without incident, and radiation effects were negligible. The device yielded 30 kilotons. Only three personnel received doses of over 0.5 rems.
With a yield equal to or less than 1/30th of that of Operation Wigwam and at a depth that is at least twice that test the radiation effects will be minimal away from the blast site. Gamma and Beta radiation dissipate relatively quickly and water is an excellent shield for those.
Alpha radiation particles are long lasting but they will only be dispersed by the actual explosion and will not propagate through the water with the shock wave. The worst scenario would be Alpha particles entering the atmosphere in the steam bubble of the blast but since there is no atmospheric blast to carry those particles into the upper atmosphere they would fall back into the water once the steam bubble reverts to liquid water. The steam bubble from a small blast might not propagate to the surface due to the depth of the blast.
If the detonation occurs far enough below the surface, as In the WIGWAM test in 1955 at a depth of about 2,000 feet, the bubble continues to pulsate and rise, although after three complete cycles enough steam will have condensed to make additional pulsations unlikely. During the pulsation and upward motion of the bubble, the water surrounding the bubble acquires considerable upward momentum and eventually breaks through the surface with a high velocity, e.g., 200 miles per hour in the WIGWAM event, thereby creating a large plume. If water surface breakthrough occurs while the bubble pressure is below ambient, a phenomenon called "blowin" occurs. The plume is then likely to resemble a vertical column which may break up into jets that disintegrate into spray as they travel through the air.
The activity levels of the radioactive base surge will be affected by the phase of the bubble when it breaks through the water surface. Hence, these levels may be expected to vary widely, and although the initial radiation intensities may be very high, their duration is expected to be short.
The Effects of Nuclear Weapons PDF Page 38
Compiled and edited by Samuel Glasstone and Philip J. Dolan
The next issue is the intensity of the blast and the shock wave. A 1Kt blast is the equivalent of an measuring 3.9 on the Richter Scale. No one worries about the sea life of tidal waves from the estimated 12,700 earthquakes annually that have a magnitude between 4.0 and 5.
Once the heavy Alpha particles settle on the bottom it will be below the food chain and in an area too deep for fishing for sea floor dwellers.
There are two main drawbacks to the use of a small nuclear device. Few people want to accept the possibility that a nuclear explosion can be productive. There is also going to be an area with Alpha radiation contamination that will be unusable for deep water drilling.