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Bill Clinton: ‘We may have to blow up the well’

By John Byrne
Tuesday, June 29, 2010 9:35 EDT
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Little noticed comments from former President Bill Clinton over the weekend which he made in South Africa are perhaps — well — a bit explosive.

“Unless we send the Navy down deep to blow up the well and cover the leak with piles and piles and piles of rock and debris, which may become necessary – you don’t have to use a nuclear weapon by the way, I’ve seen all that stuff, just blow it up – unless we’re going to do that, we are dependent on the technical expertise of these people from BP,” Clinton said.

Clinton was speaking about British Petroleum’s efforts to staunch a massive leak that erupted after one of the oil rigs it was leasing blew up Apr. 20. His remarks about the explosion solution come at about 2:30 into the recording, posted below.

Matt Simmons, founder of energy investment bank Simmons & Company, suggested earlier this month that the US military could close the drill hole with a nuclear weapon.

“Probably the only thing we can do is create a weapons system and send it down 18,000 feet and detonate it, hopefully encasing the oil,” he said.

His idea echoes that of a Russian newspaper that earlier this month suggested the US detonate a small nuclear bomb to seal the oil beneath the sea. Komsomoloskaya Pravda argued in an editorial that Russia had successfully used nuclear weapons to seal oil spills on five occasions in the past.

“Weapons labs in the former Soviet Union developed special nukes for use to help pinch off the gas wells,” Live Science wrote earlier this year. “They believed that the force from a nuclear explosion could squeeze shut any hole within 82 to 164 feet (25 to 50 meters), depending on the explosion’s power. That required drilling holes to place the nuclear device close to the target wells.”

“A first test in the fall of 1966 proved successful in sealing up an underground gas well in southern Uzbekistan, and so the Russians used nukes four more times for capping runaway wells,” the site added.

Critics of Clinton’s plan have told Fox that BP is resisting the option because blowing up the well would ensure they could get no more oil.

“If we demolish the well using explosives, the investment’s gone,” former submarine officer and nuclear policy scholar at Columbia University Christopher Brownfield told Fox News in May. “They lose hundreds of millions of dollars from the drilling of the well, plus no lawmaker in his right mind would allow BP to drill again in that same spot. So basically, it’s an all-or-nothing thing with BP: They either keep the well alive, or they lose their whole investment and all the oil that they could potentially get from that well.”

 
 
 
 
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