Gulf oil spill—kill it with fire?


62 Responses to “Gulf oil spill—kill it with fire?”

  1. bfarn says:

    And the best thing about burning the oil?
    It’s estimated to effectively remove almost 3 percent of the spill! That only leaves 97% of the thousands and thousands of gallons of oil to worry about.

    Drill baby drill!

  2. douglas says:

    Possible alternative solution:Instead of focusing on burning the oil on the surface,What about igniting the oil 5000 feet below the surface of the water. In other words, create a sub-sea fire by igniting the oil at the well. Burn it from it’s point of exit using the robot to ignite it. Although this could cause an underwater explosion-so what. BURN IT !!! It WILL burn underwater!!!

  3. tas121790 says:

    Im sure this is somehow big government and the unions fault. The business was forced to cut corners because of tyranny.

    Also my previous post was intended to be a reply to kaffeen not weaponx, sorry

  4. straponego says:

    I hope this causes some people to view oil industry PR with a more critical eye.

  5. Phlip says:

    Can’t all the other oil rigs in the area just start slurping it all up?

  6. Anonymous says:

    I remember about reading some invention about cementing the oil or something like that.

  7. noahveil says:

    Clean it up with hair and mushrooms.

  8. moosehunter says:

    um, that would be a real trick, douglas,

    where do you get the oxidizer need to burn said oil?

    its not going to burn underwatrer, if it could it would have burned all the way to the well head already-

    it lacks a oxidizer source (air) temprature (ambient temprature at 5000 is 27 degrees F, the watrere is below freezing at the surface, only kept from freezing by the 176 atmophers of pressure, (2100 pounds per square inch)

    most subs cant go that depth

    so I dont thing your going to be able to burn it at the source.. too much physics in the way

  9. angusm says:

    When the supertanker Torrey Canyon ran aground off Cornwall, the RAF and Fleet Air Arm were sent out to bomb the wreck in an attempt to set the spreading oil slick on fire. My understanding is that the tactic was largely ineffective, and large areas of the French and Cornish coast were contaminated.

    I used to know a Cornish woman whose house was partly built of beach stone from the area: you could see traces of oil from the Torrey Canyon on some of the stones.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Well Cleveland now has company.

  11. Anonymous says: has a Eco friendly solution to clean up the tragedy British Petroleum has created, please watch the video animation: and pass this along to as many people as you know.

    One person can still make a difference in this world, is that simple interactions have a rippling effect. Each time this gets pass along, the hope in cleaning our planet is passed on.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Spill Baby Spill!
    The valve at the wellhead DOESN’T WORK?!?! Unbelievable.

    NY Times: “Such burning also works only when oil is corralled to a certain thickness. Burns may not be effective for most of this spill, of which 97 percent is estimated to be an oil-water mixture.”

    I suspect that the burning is mainly theater, to give the impression that something useful can be done.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Oooo! earthquakes, volcanoes, corporate collapse, double birdstrike and now lakes of fire – BINGO! I got the top row of my Revelation Bingo Card!!! Bingo Bingo Bingo

  14. Anonymous says:

    Why, for the love of Pete, is there not a cut-off valve placed on the pipe where it goes into the sea floor? Surely this isn’t year 2500 super tech beyond our capabilities.

  15. lewis stoole says:

    nothing to worry about folks!
    there is a prayer shield protecting the coast.

    om a lacka sha lankam om
    om a sha la la lankam mahala om

    and if that doesn’t work, than someone’s prayers for cheap, abundant oil will be answered.

  16. chimpchampion says:

    Too bad that burning an oil spill (to paraphrase Doug Helton) nets an average 3% depletion of the slick, and even then only where its most concentrated and congealed. The rest of the 97% continues to drift shoreward, while the manpower needed elsewhere is tied up lighting fires on the water, etc.
    Friggin brilliant.

    “There’s a protocol here…The burns are controlled.”

    Well, I certainly hope so. I mean, we wouldn’t want the location to share in the history of governmental fuckups, now would we?

    “Each lasts about an hour and gets rid of more than 90 percent of the oil.”

    Don’t be confused. What he meant to say is “90% of the oil /that’s been successfully corralled/”, and not 90% of the spill, of course. So, that puts us at what? single-digit percents again?

    “What’s leftover can be easily skimmed off.”

    So what’s the worry, then? Oh, right. I forgot. You mean what’s leftover from the single-digit percent that’s been corralled in controlled burns while the rest of the 5,000 gallons A DAY drifts quietly toward Louisiana’s shores. Sorry. My bad.

    Do yourselves a favor, eschew BoingBoing’s investigative journalism skills and listen to an expert instead: Doug Helton, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s emergency response division.

  17. Gutierrez says:

    â•‘ IF ALL â•‘
    â•‘ ELSE FAILS â•‘
    â•‘ USE FIRE. â•‘

  18. jonathan levy says:

    Cuyahoga may be burned in an Xer’s head as a radio hit when REM was at the top of their game, and less so for the event that spawned the popular local ecology movement. Perhaps there will be a more contemporary artist to sing paeans to the eco-disasters of our current times.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Oil is naturally occurring thing. Yea, big quantities, can gum up beaches, kill some things and cause some problems. But after you clean up the big stuff, and let the rest naturally attenuate, the natural breakdown of the hydrocarbons is actually beneficial for the surrounding environment.

    “Because Prince William Sound contained many rocky coves where the oil collected, the decision was made to displace it with high-pressure hot water. However, this also displaced and destroyed the microbial populations on the shoreline; many of these organisms (e.g. plankton) are the basis of the coastal marine food chain, and others (e.g. certain bacteria and fungi) are capable of facilitating the biodegradation of oil. At the time, both scientific advice and public pressure was to clean everything, but since then, a much greater understanding of natural and facilitated remediation processes has developed, due somewhat in part to the opportunity presented for study by the Exxon Valdez spill.”

    Is it bad, yea, is it the end of the world and some proof humans are some blight on the earth? No, before oil became a commodity, there were natural springs where it rose up from the earth naturally, yes, mother earth created her own oil spills.

  20. ill lich says:

    “That’s IT. . . FIRE!” –Homer Simpson

  21. Anonymous says:

    Something important to note about this is that the spill’s location makes it difficult to clean using more advanced methods. Although chemical dispersal methods can be used in deep-water spills, the use of those methods actually retards the growth of coral reef species more than the oil itself does, due to the breakdown mechanisms they use. It is literally better for a coral reef to get covered in oil than it is for them to get covered in half-dissolved oil and chemical or biological dispersants. The position of this spill close to coastal reef waters is why the old methods of skimming and burning are likely to work best.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I was wondering what amount of oil was spilled into the seas during each World War – and what was the long term environmental damage?

  23. DarthVain says:

    +2 Karma points to whoever wrote:

    “There’s a protocol here, which involves corralling oil inside a fireproof enclosure.”
    Would this “fireproof enclosure” happen to be the ocean?

    It was exactly what I was thinking. The other two points that conjured up on my mind was:

    1) This sounds like a line from some shitty post apocalyptic movie: “Today we burned the Ocean, Tomorrow is Uncertain…” Insert Zombies or roving gangs of filthy Australians… :)

    2) Isn’t one of the signs of the biblical Apocalypse, as in the one written in the bible, the fact that the oceans will boil? Just sayin’….

  24. ultranaut says:

    This is going to be all doom and gloom, so be forewarned:

    I am not an expert, but from things I’ve been seeing most experts are extremely skeptical that anyone will be able to contain the leaking oil.

    They are scrambling to get giant metal domes out there from a company in Europe that makes them. The idea is that the domes can be placed on each leak to direct it into tubes for collection. You’d think they would have them on-site already in case of an emergency like this. They probably didn’t have them already though because no one actually thinks the domes will work. They’ve never been used deeper than 300ft down or with leaks this powerful. Not to mention all of the collapsed pipe and other debris from the Deep Horizon that has piled up right on top of the leaks. Even if all the domes work there will still be leaking, they are not considered a permanent solution.
    The domes are apparently either a PR stunt or an act of desperation.

    The other big idea is to drill an intersect. Regardless of whether the domes do actually work they will be attempting this because it is the only thing that has a real chance of actually ending the leaks. BP is saying they are hoping to get it done in 30 days. I think most experts do not believe this is possible. In the best case scenario things like this take at least 30 days in shallow water. It’s never been done in deeper than around 250ft or in conditions like these, and apparently it tends to take multiple attempts even in the best conditions. It may be that the pressures at the leaks are too great and/or the collapsed pipes and debris will prevent them from ever getting an intersect in.

    I don’t think they will be able to stop the leaks.

    Also, do not be surprised if they revise the rate of leaking upwards by another order of magnitude:

    Oh yeah, and it’s hurricane season soon.

    I believe this is extremely likely to become one of the worst environmental disasters in human history.

    • Anonymous says:

      your article claims they estimate its leaking 20,000 barrels of oil a day. That’s ridiculous, I don’t know of any well that’s producing 20,000 bopd. 20,000 bopd is a good field, not a single well.

  25. ncinerate says:

    Now all that’s needed is a hurricane to blow through there and cause an oily storm surge to cover the whole region.

    This – is – ugly.

    A drastic measure is needed. I wonder if a -large- explosive placed at the leak could seal the hole….

  26. Anonymous says:

    Where’s the Cat in the Hat and his Vroom when you need him?

  27. Phlip says:

    How much did BP pay in taxes this year?

    How much are we about to spend cleaning up after them?

  28. Gutierrez says:
    â•‘ IF ALL     â•‘
    â•‘ ELSE FAILS â•‘
    â•‘ USE FIRE.  â•‘

    Darn you ‘PRE’ tag!
    (Sorry to double post)

  29. BethNOLA says:

    As to cleaning it up on land: the land in question is marshland – they’re full of nesting birds of many species, right now, as this is their reproductive season. The waters around the marsh are full of baby shrimp, also just beginning their season. There are about 400 species of birds, fish, shellfish, and animals at serious risk from this oil making it to land.

  30. Anonymous says:

    nytimes reports that 50% (not 90% or 3%) of the oil will be burned in each ‘corral’. read: no one f-ing knows

  31. eerd says:

    Looks pretty bad, for sure. This is the problem though, in order to carry on consuming oil at the rate we – developed OECD countries – do we need to get all the oil we can.

    The deepwaters off the US need to be exploited, but operating on the technological frontier as the Macondo well was accidents will happen. There’s no point in the NIMBY thing, it just means the same sort of work gets sent overseas, which is fine if we’re from rich countries, not so fine if we’re living in the Niger Delta.

    Anon 36 – wells have flowed at 20,000 bpd although it is unusual. You are correct in saying Macondo has not reached that level, I believe.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Now yes NO to putting any oil rigs off the coast of southern Florida. We have fought this issues for years because of this type of crisis.

  33. hobomike says:

    I predict this will be the worst ecological disaster our Gulf Coast has ever seen. What will change because of it, I have no idea.

    • Phlip says:

      > I predict this will be the worst ecological disaster our Gulf Coast has ever seen. What will change because of it, I have no idea.

      +1 on “worst ecological disaster”.

      What will Change is Obama will have a slightly easier time reforming Big Oil. If you thought the HMOs fought fair…

    • bellhalla says:

      “I predict this will be the worst ecological disaster our Gulf Coast has ever seen.”

      Ixtoc I in 1970/80 set a pretty high standard for Gulf disasters.

    • Teller says:

      Real possible. Forwarded to me from guy in the business. Reads like an official Horizon statement:

      “In the coming weeks they will move in at least one other rig to drill a fresh well that will intersect the blowing one at its pay zone. They will use technology that is capable of drilling from a floating rig, over 3 miles deep to an exact specific point in the earth – with a target radius of just a few feet plus or minus. Once they intersect their target, a heavy fluid will be pumped that exceeds the formation’s pressure, thus causing the flow to cease and rendering the well safe at last. It will take at least a couple of months to get this done, bringing all available technology to bear. It will be an ecological disaster if the well flows all of the while; optimistically, it could bridge off downhole.”

  34. Anonymous says:

    You wanted cheaper oil, now you’re getting it!
    Hey, you get what yo wish for! Right?
    Anyways, burning is good, very good. But to burn
    the oil means to heat up the surface of the water
    even faster than what global warming can cause. I
    say burn, at the SOURCE. Or at least block up the
    source so that more oil doesn’t spill. Come on,
    how hard it is to install a new blowout preventer?

  35. Phlip says:

    And the carbon footprint of burning a huge oil spill is..?

    • JayByrd says:

      About the same as if the rig never blew up and the oil was refined and put into our cars to burn.

      • Phlip says:

        I ought to guess the footprint is less, if refining & burning are much more accurate, producing more raw CO2 (and H20). Burning raw crude would keep much of the C in long molecules – partial combustion products – that would pollute the sea & kill various critters.

        Drill, baby, drill!

  36. skatanic says:

    “There’s a protocol here, which involves corralling oil inside a fireproof enclosure.”
    Would this “fireproof enclosure” happen to be the ocean?

  37. Anonymous says:

    Someone’s told them that “nuke it from orbit, it’s the only way to make sure” is not a viable alternate cleanup method, right?

  38. kaffeen says:

    This is yet another disgrace for humankind. We are destroying the only planet we have.

  39. Anonymous says:

    I’ve never used a single Exxon branded product or purchased anything from an Exxon station since the Valdez incident. I am very proud of that.

    There need to be consequences. WE ARE OBLIGATED TO EITHER DO SOMETHING OR SHUT THE FUCK UP. I prefer to do something, in this case I’ve voted with my wallet.

    It doesn’t matter if it was an unavoidable accident, sabotage, or anything else. There still need to be consequences, or nothing will ever change.

    Be the change you want in the world.

  40. Petezza says:

    Hey! That’s a new one! Instead “War for Oil” it’s “War against Oil”. Ooraa! Oh and: YES, please burn the oil! That’s SO MUCH better than just having proper measures in place preventing this mess from happening. At least the news headlines changed for now – all that stuff about climate-change really got boring…

  41. weaponx says:

    Don’t we have tech that can solidify the oil somehow?

    • Chevan says:

      I would assume that if such technology existed, it would already be in use and these desperate measures would not be necessary.

      Or it may exist and already be implemented, but is insufficient for dealing with the size of the spill.

    • xzzy says:

      Solidifiers exist, but they’re hard to use on a spill of this size. The amount of area involved, and the fact that it’s on a body of water, makes it impractical.

      I’m sure it will be used once the oil hits landfall, but only for limited applications.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes we do have this ability. Adding caustic soda or other alkali will turn in into soap. Then we will have an ocean full of soap.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, you point the Solidifier Gun at the oil mass, and press the “somehow” button, and pull the trigger. Damn thing works like a charm.

  42. Rcan says:

    knw wht Grg Bsh wld hv dn – nd qckly! ftr cnsltng wth ths wh ndrstnd hw t hndl sch prdcmnts, ys, ths grdy l ppl wh pt thr lvs n jprdy wrkng n ny l wll st, Bsh wld hv rgd brnff f th lght, swt l, n ctn whch cld hv rmvd 90 prcnt f th l bfr t cld mk t t shr. (xxn Vldz l ws t hvy t s sm tchnq.) Ys, t wld hv hd sm ndsrbl ffcts n wldlf, bt nw thy hv hd t wt s lng tht mch mr dmg wll ns. bm twddld hs thmbs t lng bfr grpplng wth th sttn. H ndd mmdt dvc frm rl tchncl xprts n th fld. Th l bsnss s vry cmplctd nd ts prblms shld nt b lft t th cllss t slv.

    • Halloween Jack says:

      Yeah, right. George W. Bush is a decisive man of action. That’s why he did so well the last time there was a big disaster in the Gulf near Louisiana… oh, wait.

      • Felton says:

        Yeah, but we’re talking about oil being spilled. That’s the one thing that might’ve made W spring into action.

        • Halloween Jack says:

          Only if there was a way to siphon it up and sell it to Halliburton, or if it was threatening Trent Lott’s house. Otherwise, he’d send Heckuva-Job Brownie to take care of it.

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