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Drastic Measures for the Gulf

The thirst for drastic measures in the Gulf. We look at out-of-the box ideas for handling BP, stopping the oil and cleaning up the mess.

A rig and support vessels surround the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico near the coast of Louisiana. (AP)

Titanic and Avatar director James Cameron wants to help. Kevin Costner has an idea. Robert Reich wants to take over BP.

Tens of thousands of Americans – from top physicists to regular Joes – have been brainstorming how to stop the sickening oil mess in the Gulf of Mexico.

Yesterday, we saw the latest failure, when BP’s diamond-studded saw stuck in the sea-floor pipe.

The Gulf is filling like a sad bathtub with deadly oil. A relief well is months away. Everybody’s desperate for a fix.

This Hour, On Point: we’re talking drastic measures for meeting the oil mess in the Gulf of Mexico.

Guests:

Antonia Juhasz, energy and corporate policy analyst at Global Exchange, an activist organization where she is also director of the “Chevron Program,” launched last year to raise awareness of the growing power of Chevron and the oil industry. She is author of “The Tyranny of Oil: the World’s Most Powerful Industry and What We Must Do To Stop It.”

Tad Patzek, chairman of the Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering Department at the University of Texas at Austin.

Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under President Clinton and professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley. He is author of “Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy and Everyday Life.”

More:

We harvested some of the ideas for addressing the Gulf crisis posted over the past week or two by our online listeners. We’ll reprint them below (some are edited for brevity). We hope you’ll add to them.

Explosion
Explosively imploding the well should be “relatively” safe and “easy” (as easy as doing anything is under 5000′ of water and then a bunch of mud). A well is a relatively fragile structure, it doesn’t take a nuke to break it. 100 lbs of explosives a few hundred feet away would send a shock wave (a wave of energy) though the ground Upon hitting the well bore, the discontinuity in the speed of sound would result in huge stresses on the wall of the well, breaking off pieces. Subsequent seismic waves would further shake the dirt up and the well would collapse with the weight of dirt above it. BP is trying to FIX the well, so they can control it. But we all know that its much easier to break something than fix it. BP is proposing to drill into the existing bore. It would be far faster and easier to just drill near the well, place a small amount of explosives there, and let the shaking and entropy BREAK the well.
-Brian

Bigger Pipe
Why don’t they put a bigger pipe 50 or 60 feet long over the leak let it start to flow up that pipe and then cap it at the connecting pipe? Then connect other pipes to the 50 or 60 foot pipe and start pumping the oil into a tanker? Yes they’ve tried to put a box over it.. Didn’t work. Yes they put a smaller pipe inside the larger pipe. It wasn’t enough. Try bigger over smaller.
-Susie

Parallel Fixes: Dome, Straw
As an engineer I understand the value of “parallel processing” – doing several things simultaneously. Why didn’t the Obama Administration require BP to prepare their attempted fixes in parallel? Build the big dome while they were building the little dome while they were preparing the “straw” while they were preparing to shoot the mud, etc? That way they could have a line of ships waiting in queue at the site so the moment it became clear that one trick had failed they could instantly try the next one! Instead we have days of delay between each experiment, while they prepare the next one. Obviously BP would object because doing it in parallel is more expensive and if the first trick worked the rest of the cost would be wasted. But who cares? I’m not going to worry about BP’s money, compared to OUR environment!
-Peter

Bigger Box
After only a day or two of hearing about the mess occurring in the Gulf Of Mexico, it seemed to me that a big box over the well head with several different kinds of tap-in connections would be the first thing for BP to do. A box was perhaps what BP did do, but one does not send a boy out to do a man’s job. The box was only 15 or 20 feet wide….(a boy)….The box should have been 200 feet wide with a number of flanges with four-inch bolt holes to screw on the pipes that should be attached after the “MAN’S BOX” is in place. Too small, too cheap, too late…
-Rodney

Heavy Cone
I have an idea to plug the well with a very long very heavy cone shaped concrete plug. A cone shaped needle if you will. For that matter it could be a way to re-tap the well, and act like a cone shaped hypodermic needle with its own blow out preventer, and hollow core to reconnect to a surface vessel.
-Bronson

Coupling and Pipe
Why can’t BP control this thing? With the undersea robots, it would seem possible to fabricate a section of pipe 21″ in diameter, with a quick coupling at one end, and then tapering to 16″ at the other, coated with a thick layer of rubber, and slotted, to relieve pressure as it was inserted into the existing well line. Photos show a coupling about 10 feet from the end of the ruptured line. Open the coupling, insert the tapered pipe, and continue inserting until sealed. Use the quick coupling at the other end to hook up to the new pipe to bring to the surface. Or, if BP likes clowning around, buy a 75 ft circular circus tent, install over the leaks, hook the circular opening for the pole to a large flexible pipe to the surface, and pump up the rising oil. (Bad humor)
-Andrew

Care Neeeded on Injections
This oil is coming from a salt dome about 4 miles beneath the surface of the water. It is shooting out a 20″ pipe at such force that it can blow away a building sized concrete structure. Two methods (1. injections from an intersecting well now being drilled 2. forceful injections of mud, concrete and debris) are now in preparation to stop it. A shallower but similar accident Pemex had more than twenty years ago took ten months to cap. The flow rate may be as high as 95 thousand barrels a day so that, even at this advanced juncture, time is critical. Stopping this flow too suddenly or at the wrong point could produce a larger, less manageable blowout. Careful preparation and care are in order.
-Grady

Criminal proceedings, New technologies
Let’s call for open Congressional hearings on the topic of the technologies currently on the black shelves of suppression by the oil corporations (BP and others) which would get this whole planet off oil, gas, coal or nuclear sources of energy altogether. Open public Congressional hearings and criminal proceedings against the oil corporations would force the end of our use of fossil fuels and nuclear sources because the use of advanced technology would be available for use by the whole human race…
-Eric

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  • Rebecca Bartlett

    Please ask Mr. Patzek to respond to this idea. Why can’t engineers use one of those pipes they already have in the well (for pumping in mud and pumping out oil) to insert a deflated bladder of some kind, and then fill that bladder with something that will inflate it and then congeal or solidify to stop up the well? It seems as though the missing element in the top kill attempt was containment. Would this work?

    –Dept. of amateur engineering

  • jeffe

    BP is going to be taken over, at least this is speculation on the London stock market.

    Some interesting articles from the other side of the pond. Seems that BP is in deep financial trouble.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/jun/03/gulf-oil-spill-senators-ask-bp-to-suspend-dividends

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/jun/02/speculation-over-bp-future

    I’m glad Robert Reich is on, his voice is one of reason and rationality.

  • William

    I’m one of those “white male construction” workers that Mr. Reich does not want to get a job. Now he wants the government to take control of BP. Certainly, there is not a bigger Socialist in America.

  • cory

    When we look back at this event 10 years from now, will we say “that was when everything changed”?

    Hell no.

    We will continue to use oil. Life will go on in the gulf. My liberal brethren need to get a grip on reality on this one. We will use oil until it is no longer profitable. We will not stop using it even one day before that time. It’s just how it is.

  • JP

    There will be some conservatives posting today who should be given no credibility whatever.

    Look back at comments posted by them during some of the other OP shows covering the spill since it occurred.

    You’ll find they were scoffing at the idea that the spill could possibly become the nation’s worst man-made disaster ever, much less the world’s.

    They have now been shown to be utterly clueless.

    These people should be easy to pick out of the crowd today.

  • Rachel

    You got it, cory…

  • Steve V

    We (American Public) can pull into any service station at any time and fill up our tanks for less than $ 3.00 per gallon. As the price of gas rises so will the outrage, and not until. In the meantime the “outrage” in the Gulf will remain limited.

  • BHA

    What could we do? Flatten the end of the pipe for a distance of several feet and then roll it over. It would stop the flow and have to be a lot easier than many of the things they have tried so far.

  • charlie

    give the engineering kids at MIT $10M to find a solution.

  • Mark Giese

    Why couldn’t you freeze the pipe? Wrap the broken pipe with tubes containing liquid nitrogen. Circulating the liquid N on the outside of the pipe would allow you to effectively cool the pipe and gradually close the opening with greater and greater frozen oil. I’m not a physicist. Perhaps the oil wouldn’t stick to the inside of the pipe.

  • Andrew

    Couldn’t they just drop a big heavy thing on the well?

  • Steve T

    BP doesn’t want to close off the spill. they want to capture the oil for sale. And that’s ALL Period.

    They don’t care about damages done to the gulf, they don’t live there.

    If anyone thinks otherwise, I don’t want to call you stupid but…..

  • David

    If the US government puts BP in receivorship as Mr. Reich suggests, can you hear the shouts of “socialism”? It will only politicize this issue, and fuel the tea party nonsense that has dominated the airwaves for the past year.

  • Max in West Newton

    In March 2009 (only 1 year ago) there was an eerily similar oil spill/disaster in Australia. The well was 8,000 feet deep. Halliburton was, once again, cementing the well when the rig blew up! It took 5 months to stop the oil spill.

    Why do I keep hearing so called “experts” tsay hat we have never experienced a similar disaster?

    What measure finally worked in Australia?

    Max in West newton

  • jimmy

    You interviewed a magazine writer and a nuclear sub veteran for their opinions about nuking the oil leak? Not even one scientist. You should listen to other NPR shows, perhaps. Yesterday on the Diane Rehm show, 2 SCIENTISTS described this idea as the worst possible option (have you heard a scientist endorse this idea yet?) This is not like an oil-well fire, for which oxygen deprivation is the objective. Maybe tomorrow, you should ask a farmer and a banker the best way to get to Mars.

  • Marc

    That Reich is weighing in on this is funny. Is there anything he won’t comment on? And of course, he wants the government to take this over – he wants the government to take over just about everything. I’ll listen, but it’s hard to believe he has any real expertise, though I don’t doubt his interest in getting to a microphone.

  • Mark

    I’m reminded of the old Fram oil filter ad: “You can pay me now, or pay me later”. They were trying to warn people of the hidden costs of dirty oil.

    All this talk about drastic and expensive measures for cleaning up the Gulf should force Americans to come to grips with this fact: The Gusher in the Gulf is a carbon tax.

    The only difference is it’s being levied on the public after the fact, after BP got to make a series of reckless decisions secure in the knowledge that it could pass on the vast majority of the hidden costs to the rest of us.

    Those hidden costs include destruction of the environment, destruction of jobs, and destruction of a way of life for millions. If they had been included up front in the form of a carbon tax, the true price of oil would be so high that the Gulf right now would be covered in windmills, not exploding oil platforms and toxic sludge.

  • Raleigh Myers

    Cut the bolts on the existing flange on top of the BOP and remove the upper flange. Then make up a matching flange with valve built on to it. Put on the valve open and then close after you put the bolts-fasteners in.

  • Nick

    A nuclear response (or other bomb) to the Gulf oil gusher is exceedingly dangerous + foolhardy. Methane below the seabed would ignite w/the oil, potentially sending massive shocks inward, w/unknown consequences for the continental plates + the planet in general.

    BP has consistenly underestimated it’s technological response to this catastrophe, ever concerned w/it’s profits + shareholders support.

    Transparency: I “love” BP’s disclaimer re. it’s live video feed availability at the gushing oil pipe.

  • John E Mann

    Two points: (1) This disaster has no good solution and the idea that there is some “fix” out there is a fantasy. What we need to do instead is to absorb in our minds the full cost of this disaster, and realize that there is no solution. Sorry about having to watch the death of ecosystems in slow motion, but “tough”. (2) Given the apparent lack of a solution, why should the Federal government “take over”? It couldn’t do any better, and it would simple take over the full blame, which would allow the idiots among us – or all of us – to continue our fantasy that we humans can solve anything.

  • Mary Adams

    I heard on the radio after the spill, that BP held the survivors of the explosion on a ship for 15 hours or so, then took them to a hotel on shore, and again held them. They also reportedly made them sign documents as to what they saw and if they were injured.
    What do we know about this in relation to BP possibly trying to manipulate the survivors? Also do we know why the federal government does not intervene. It is a mountain of paperwork as to who is in charge, or policies that limit what the Fed can do?

  • Nick

    Oooopps, typo: BP has overestimated it’s technological responses + underestimated the oil gushing from below the seabed.

  • Hans Carlson

    Given that the Supreme Court has decided that corporations are individuals with the right to free speech, I think we should also hold them criminally responsible in the same way. Therefore, for its crimes against the earth and against humanity, let’s have the death penalty for British Petroleum. All of its assets should be seized and liquidated with the money being used for clean-up and restitution for those affected; anything left over could be used for renewable energy research. Now there’s a tea party for you.

  • http://N/A Rick Becker

    Has anyone given consideration to the fact that BP has only employed methods which will preserve its capacity to keep drawing from the well at some point in the future ?

    Crimping the pipe rather than cutting it and capping it for capturing the oil to tankers would be a much more intelligent approach.

    If it was done in a gradual manner, the flow would diminish its kinetic energy until stopped.

    Cutting off the flow quickly could burst the pipe at a lower point since the kinetic energy of the oil column would have to be conserved.

  • Michael Koplow

    Your guest is getting close to identifying a seroius problem with the current “fix”. Because there is a column of oil 13,000 feet long moving at about 20 miles per hour or more, anything that abruptly stops the flow of oil at the riser exit will generate a huge overpressure in the riser pipe; that is, the pipe could burst or flow will be diverted to the next path of lower resistance, like flow outside of the riser pipe. The current use of shears to cut the pipe may well collapse the pipe and create the problem described above.

  • Adam

    Remember when the rig originally exploded, that there was no oil yet leaking from the well? Why wasn’t more done then to prevent the oil from beginning to leak?

  • BHA

    The guest keeps saying many of these proposed methods that would close the pipe would just force the oil out somewhere else. Would the ‘top kill’ method not do the same thing? Would the current plan of shearing off the pipe and then capping it not do the same thing?

    If the guest is right, BP should stop doing ANYTHING that would seal the pipe.

  • Scott P

    Hello all,
    I am interested to get some opinions on using a pile like those used in bridge construction. My original conception of this was to use shaped charged to cut the riser than steer a pile (a madrall shaped one could possibly be more easily steered through the vortex of oil rushing out,perhapse also with barbs to help keep it in place). So really top kill with a solid instead of fluids.

    What do you all think?
    Thanks
    Scott

  • george cook

    Sir:

    as an engineer for 33 years [in no way associated with big oil] my objective observation is… BP doing best they can, no one can do better, get out of their way, and quit slowing them down.

  • http://omniumpartners.com Webb Nichols

    If the Federal Government took over BP and initiated an action that created a greater problem who would be liable? Would BP be off the hook?

  • Mary Adams

    Do the federal government policies have to be changed to allow for a sharing of power in catastrophies? During Katrina we saw the power struggle between Gov. Blanco, and President Bush.
    This effectively kept the Fed out of the picture. We seem to be seeing the same thing again with this, though the disaster is not
    about saving people on rooftop, which would seem so much easier
    to do than shut off the oil.

  • Rich

    Why not deploy a large tent made of a strong material like Kevlar?

    The robots could stake down the four corners and gradually stake off the rest of the tent bottom until the area was sealed. A large tube could be connected to the tent to direct the oil to the surface.

  • Natalia

    The US gov’t. should immediately take over the wildlife rescue effort. I’m convinced BP has been as consistently covering up injury to our wokdlife populations as they havew been covering up and denying the plumes, the quantities, you name it.

    Please, think about it – it’s absolutely not rational to suppose that there’s been practically no effect on wildlife!!! Even if there were no oil out there, the Conexit not only causes bleeding but just as a detergent, it’s going to make water wetter, so it penetrates the feathers of birds, making them less buoyant – this is ordinary common sense ! Why are we acknowledging BP’s “smoke and mirrors” job (not to mention same from the feds?) about the quantitiies of oil and not even (apparently) thinking very much about the millions of living beings out there and what we can and should do to help them rather than leaving it to BP to cover up and to let them die to protect their “bottom line”??

  • David Farrer

    There is an essential conundrum here which goes under the general heading of the “law of unintended consequences.” The complexity of the technology that allows us to drill a mile below the sea and drill down two and one half miles into bedrock means once the fail-safes have failed we’re really up a creek.

    We should stay aware of the underlying assumptions of our society which essentially mandate that we go to such extraordinary lengths to exploit natural resources. We don’t have to live the way we do but no one wants to give up the ease and comfort that plentiful cheap energy has made possible.

  • http://www.fawcettassociates.com Sean

    Not sure if this has been mentioned or if it’s feasible, but right now they are trying to cut the riser pipe with what amounts to huge hydraulic sheers. Why not dull the blades and just crimp it in multiple locations. This would surely slow the flow.

  • Ira Morgenstern

    I beleive that there is high probability fix using the depth of the ocean to help.
    Take the first containment vessel they tried and put a 50+ foot heavy metal flange surrounding the top to utilize the weight of the water above the containment vessel to hold it down. Have a steam fed heat exchager in the containment vessel to stop the foramtion of the hydrates. A pipe from the top of the vessel up to the surface would also be steam heated to further avoid the hydrate problem. Oil captrured, no chance of future blowout, and it is simple.

  • informed American

    The liberals had to learn the hard way that not only could Obama not walk on water, he can’t even plug the hole.

  • Paul

    Do you remember those round kid’s tunnels? What if we made one 25 feet wide and a mile long? That way it focuses the oil up like a chimney… and then we pump and seperate it from that large holding pen.

  • Nick

    W/all due respect to Ms. Juhasz, the present “leak” is bad enough; the video footage suggests more than a “leak.”

  • Eva Webster

    Tom, I think it was you who cut off the guest on your program who said that there are 15,000 (!) deep ocean oil wells in US waters.

    Do you find that “tidbit” irrelevant????

    What’s the guarantee that a similar accident won’t happen to any number of those 15,000 wells down the road? Plugging mechanisms are certain to deteriorate over time (no man-made devices last for ever).

    We are RUINING our beautiful planet — the only viable home to humanity and countless other precious species.

    Tom, you have a way of reaching many people. We already know you’re a cerebral, analytical guy. Now you need to be also a fighter for preserving the planet.

    The media MUST galvanize the public to put an end to deep ocean drilling, and to take immediate, drastic steps to move our economy towards renewable sources of energy.

    Please keep up good work, and don’t downplay the dangers that lurk down the road.

  • David Krause

    How about converting some tankers to giant oil/water separators? Discharge clean sea water and haul off the oil.

  • Rob Maher

    What about asking Robert Ballard for advice?

  • Ray

    Anything that increases the possibility of creating new leaks elsewhere on the seafloor should be discounted.

    The safest approach is to suck up the oil and water and separate – any oil recovered should be DENIED to BP and immediately added to US Strategic reserves.

  • http://esmilligan@verizon.net Elizabeth Steiner Milligan

    plug the well with an industrial tampon and then cap it with an industrial cervical cap; appropriate materials and technology available through a partnering of Johnson & Johnson’s Playtex and NASA and/or the DOD.

    oh yes, check with Marathon International Oil Company about how they handled that situation offshore Australia back in the early 1980s where a typhoon separated the drillpipe from a drill ship from the wellhead

    -former oil company, operations & production and exploration & new ventures

  • John

    Now that we have ruined our environment, will we be dependent on foreign fish?

  • george c

    Without data, it is near impossible for a lay person to suggest a viable solution. BP has the best data; it is ludicrous for anyone to think they can do any better.

    It would be nice , and ‘fun’, for us to have more data , for example: what is the pressure ‘in the well = below the ocean floor’ , we know it is greater than 2200 psig = 150 atm, but I have not heard ‘what is the pressure, in the well?’

  • Steve T

    @ Informed American.

    Thanks,

    For letting everyone how intelligent and informed you are.

    Sadly you are not by yourself.

  • joe ellis

    Yes, a larger pipe over the leaking pipe. Envision a series of vertical culverts, perhaps ten, perhaps twenty feet in diameter, open ended from sea floor to surface – a mile of bolted or threaded sections neatly conveying the oil and gas.

  • jeffe

    If the US government puts BP in receivership as Mr. Reich suggests, can you hear the shouts of “socialism”? It will only politicize this issue, and fuel the tea party nonsense that has dominated the airwaves for the past year.

    It looking like BP will be taken over, but not by the government. It will most likely be acquired by another oil/gas company. There stock is in free fall.

    William, get a grip.

  • Jon

    Crimp it like a kinked garden hose. Or to continue with the hose analogy, a huge ‘shop vac hose’ sucking the oil and water up to a ship. Maybe it’s too far to maintain any suction. Maybe a series of pumping stations suspended in the middle.

    2 cents from an amature handyman.

  • A. Oliveri

    Your show was very informative. It was good to hear from the 3 contributors regarding the oil spill. We all see the extreme importance of stopping the spill as soon as possible. It is important to hear from impartial experts like Mr. Patzek as to what can and cannot be done and get a realistic idea as to when it can be stopped and the clean up to really begin.
    Thanks

  • AKILEZ

    The Oil Spill is annoying but the people or commentors
    who always mentioned that America is heading for SOCIALISM is more irritating and annoying than the oil spill.

    You!!! Who wrote Socialism you must be living in the 20th Century. Socialism is over this is the 21st Century

    Socialim does not Old School if China is a Communist/Capitalist. Where the Socialism there?

    My God Obama ALREADY passed the Universal Healthcare.

    1.Did the United States of American went to Democratic to Socialism? No.

    2. I still have my regualar Health Insurance and Massachusetts is still democratic.

    3. Please wake up if you want Socialism leave America?

    If you keep mentioning socialism for another 3 years under Obama’s Administration you will lose your mind.

    Write something productive not KEEP on Writing Socialism
    You must Love Socialism so much that you always mention the word Socialism!!!

    Come back after the Obama Administration is over and tell me if we changed?

    Grow Up Baby Boomers!!!

  • http://none Michael Sills, Ph.D., P.E.

    Hot Air Balloon Concept to Collect and Store Gushing Methane/Gas Mixture

    The basic idea is to float a canopy, parachute-like material using ROVs over the gushing methane / oil discharge which is coming out at 1500 psi. The seawater over it exerts maybe 160psi at 1-mile depth so that is why we see the methane/oil gushing upwards. The square canopy would have a belt/drawstring inside the square perimeter. Much like a hot air balloon first fills with hot air on the ground the gushing gas mixture would begin to fill the square canopy over it. The canopy would also have two bladders to control its orientation and the drawstring (like a bag of marbles) would be tightened to stop the gas/oil mixture from flowing out the bottom of the “hot air balloon”. Once the “balloon” was filled to its maximum (e.g. no gas/oil is flowing out of the balloon at the bottom with the drawstring pulled as tight as it can be at the ocean floor) the air bladders would be inflated and used to cause the balloon to rise to the surface. Once the full balloon begins its rise a second canopy is floated over the gusher and the filling process started again. At some point in the balloon’s rise to the surface a second bladder at the bottom can be activated to rotate the balloon to have the drawstring end upwards towards the surface. Once at the surface the closed drawstring end could be further tighten and more floats added. The mixture inside is then captured for pumping to a treatment vessel of large tanker for further storage AND NOT ENDING UP ON SHORE. Since the full balloon at the bottom would take on a spherical shape I calculate that a “balloon with a 100m (300’) radius could hold approximately 2 million barrels (55gal) of the mixture. It is not clear how much of this mixture is methane and how much is oil but if we say it is 20% oil then one of these “balloons” can hold about 400,000 barrels of oil. The material will need to be flexible and oil resistant which should be no problem for our major fabric suppliers, Dupont, Tyvex etc. I have passed this idea along through normal channels and even through my US Senator’s office with no response from BP. Can you get this concept into the mix?

    As you can see this alternative does not risk fracturing the well head or casing and causing blowouts at different locations as do the cap and top kill alternative do.

  • Brett

    How’s that free enterprizey, capitalismy thingy working out so far? …Let’s hear some more about how the government hasn’t stepped in enough to stop this and how if the government takes the thing over it will be wrong-headed inept socialism and how the free market can take care of itself and everyone else all in the same breath one more time!!! Conservatives, all together now! And-a-one, and-a-two…

  • jeffe

    My God Obama ALREADY passed the Universal Healthcare. The health care bill is far from Universal coverage. It has a mandate which favors the insurance corporations, and big pharma. However that is another topic.

  • David Cylkowski

    The leak could be stopped or dramatically reduced by placing a massive steel or concrete structure over the riser. There is a point where the weight of a structure above it will be sufficient to resist the upward pressure of the oil. Without having done any calculations I am suggesting that an inverted round cake pan be built with a thick steel edge and a bottom that is of sufficient thickness that it weigh enough to stop the upward pressure of the oil. In the middle of this huge cake pan in the bottom there should be a sleeve slightly larger than the diameter of the existing riser. The ocean floor should be leveled to receive the outer edge of the structure and a sleeve should be formed in the middle of the pan so that the riser could extend a couple of feet into it. If the weight of the structure is sufficient the surface area of the leak will be cut back accordingly and the pressure of the oil will not be able to move the structure. At that point steps could be taken to cover the perimeter of the structure with heavy solid material like concrete to prevent secondary leakage.

    This is an substantial engineering project insofar as the structure has to be built at sea, which takes time and lowered a mile down into the ocean, which takes an enormous crane capacity and the placed with great precision over the riser so that there is a perfect fit. Theoretically it should work. Any questions about the idea and I will be happy to answer.

  • AKILEZ

    Universal Healthcare Does not Favor HMOs or especially Pharmaceutical companies Jeffe

    We have Universal Healthcare Act or Social Medicine since FDR. It has been with us for 65 years.

  • Mandrake

    The problem is that BP’s goal is to fix the problem as long as they can continue to harvest the oil. Their goal is not to stop the leak at any cost. Don’t oil companies have to lease resources from teh governemnt and the rights to drill? They don’t own the unharvested oil, the American people do. It’s not a stretch to just takeover the site, shut down the leak with explosives or something that will mean the site can not be drilled again and get it over with.

  • Paul Raila

    MOST IMPORTANT MEASURE IS TO RAISE $75M LIMIT TO LIABILITY OF OIL COMPANIES IMMEDIATELY!

    There is current debate about whether BP or the Federal Government should be in charge of the overall disaster response and recovery effort. A removal or increase in current limits to oil company liability could help bring BP decision making into better alignment with the needs of the general public and might require less intervention by the government in BP internal affairs to ensure that public interest is adequately protected.

    Accepted policies of corporate governance dictate that BP’s primary responsibility is to protect the interests of BP shareholders, even when their disaster responses may conflict with the public interest or come at the expense of the general pubic. The current limit to liability and accepted rules of corporate governance serve as a powerful incentive for BP to limit the cost of it’s planned response and recovery efforts to measures expected to cost no more than $75M. It seems clear that the true cost of this disaster will far exceed that amount. It is paramount that in a disaster of this magnitude and public impact, the financial and lifestyle interests of the public must receive at least as much consideration as the financial interests of BP shareholders.

    One approach to protect the public interest is for the government to seize control over BP and it’s responses and recovery operations. This would be both messy and legally complicated. Might we achieve some of these same benefits by simply raising or removing the $75M limit to oil company liability and thereby bring the interests of BP shareholders and the general public into greater congruence?

    Why do we not hear more reporting about possible congressional action to increase/remove the liability limit, or the efforts of oil companies and corporations to oppose such a change? How can we promote immediate attention and swift action by Congress?

  • twenty-niner

    “Why couldn’t you freeze the pipe?”

    Mark,

    Great minds think alike.

    Last week I actually submitted this exact idea to BP’s suggestion site, and I got the following response yesterday:

    Thank you so much for taking the time to think about and submit your proposed solution regarding the Horizon incident. Your submission has been reviewed for its technical merits. Unfortunately, the team has determined that your idea cannot be applied under the very challenging and specific operating conditions we face. All of us on the Horizon Support Team appreciate your thoughts and efforts.

    Sincerely yours,
    Horizon Support Team

    I’m an engineer and I believe this solution would work as well.

  • David Kelly

    A lot of people (with no aparent credentials in environemental remuneration) have commented about the disaster caused by the oil. Some things to consider. Oil has been leaking into the oceans of the world for millions of years. Some of the beaches contaminated by oil with the Exxon Valdez disaster were cleaned and others were left fallow. I have been told by an authoritative source, that beaches which were cleaned are still baren. Beaches that were left fallow have recovered. We must have learned something in Alaska, why is that experience not being brought to bear.

  • AKILEZ

    BP should pay all fishermen $1 million dollars.

    Because if BP will fix their problem Now the damage is already been done. too late to save the gulf from ecological disaster.

    The oil spill will destroy the Eco system for decades just like what is happening in Alaska Now, after the Exxon Valdez disaster that occurred decades ago.

    If the oil spill will not be stop it will spread on both side of America’s coast line East and West coast.

    I know we cannot stop the oil spill but I know a smart person has an idea out there but we haven’t heard from her/him.

    Please if you have an idea smarty Tell BP about it. share your ideas to the people who created this Natural Disaster.

  • http://www.bluelabs.es Patricia Rodriguez

    Dear Sirs, Apparently our solutions already invented for our Spanish disaster few years ago… told at that time to be too cheap to solve the problem… but we have patented it, proved it in a real case under the sea. It is an umbrella (soft made of kind of strong sail boat material with both soft or a bit stringer radios and with a pipe to suck and direct ALL the oil… Patent nr: 200.800.278. We can build the new one pretty fast and add small motors at its corners to be manipulated electronically from surface!

  • http://www.filipinoboston.blogspot.com AKILEZ

    BP destroyed the livelihood of the Southern States

    The tragedy will destroy families emotionally and financially.

    Families will be separated to find another way means of livelihood to feed their families.

    Husbands and Wives will be fighting because of emotional disaster.

    Where to find jobs?
    What to do with useless fishing boats?
    Where to find jobs after the disaster?

    The questions are endless.

    BP I want to you pay the families that you destroyed. British Petroleum Shame On You

    Almost everyday I see fishermen and their wives crying in anger on national television.

    Add insult to Injury. Those fishermen who are helping to stop the spread of oil on the gulf are getting sicker everyday.

    Life is so unfair for those people who already suffered so much after Katrina.

    BP You Destroyed America!!!!

  • http://(859)277-2773 Charles A. Bowsher

    “Joe Ellis” is on the right track with the large culvert pipe. I have been on-line at jref (randi’s site) trying to get the engineers there to listen to a similar idea. At first they pooh poohed it. Now they are actually willing to say “it would work, but….” So I am going back and forth answering the but’s and in the meantime I keep plugging away trying to be heard by someone, somewhere.
    Problems with the big pipe

    -Getting the materials – It is culvert pipe, readily available

    -Can’t stabilize it – think in terms of how a large tv (or radio)tower is stabilized with guy-wires. This would be stabilized with tugs at the surface.

    -Buoyancy issues – Had issues with both, it is “to heavy to hold up” or “it will float”, either way you adapt to the circumstances, either add weight or add buoyancy as needed.

    -Pressure differential inside and outside the pipe would crush it because a column of oil is less dense than a column of seawater – install one way valving the length of the pipe which would let the pressures equalize (to be honest I think they are not considering that the culvert pipe might have enough rigidity on its own to withstand the pressure differential and the valving might not even be necessary. The purer the oil that rises to the surface the more efficient the surface recovery efforts will be.) I am all for getting this oil up as close to the surface as possible.

    -The pipe will freeze up – There is a very difficult mixture of gas (methane hydrate), oil, temperature and pressures both in the oil field and at that depth (I think one poster said 150 atm, I think it is a little higher) that weird unpredictable stuff happens. I accept that, so I responded with, well then you line the inside of the culvert with marine grade heating tape (kind of a clue where I come from in that!) and so far there has been silence to that.

    -If we allow the mixture of oil and gas to rise to the surface it is not volatile enough to ignite on its own, but apparently the gas is so flammable that the oil and gas expert on the thread said something along the lines, you do not want to be anywhere near the point this mixture is coming up to the surface, and you sure don’t want any workers, equipment or even static sparks, lightning there. I totally respect that – So then it came to mind that you could have the exit point of the pipe covered over by a large inflatable dome (like you see over tennis courts) and then pump off the methane to a controlled burn in the atmosphere (very wasteful I think) or bottle it into waiting supertankers, and the oil would be pumped to waiting supertankers as well. There are also devices called manifolds which you might be able to install in the pipe as it rises towards the surface and at those points the gas could possibly be removed. I am an “ideas person” or “creative” if you will, so I have to rely on the engineers who are willing and open-minded enough to listen to non-engineers spitball and spout(sorry, it just came over me). I am broke, unemployed and consumed with helping find a solution to this heartbreaking man-made disaster. Mostly I am just trying to find a way to get to someone who will really listen, understands this is a global emergency, can marshal the necessary resources (think in terms of a declared national emergency and the powers that come with it), and is willing to do so.

    I am an “ideas person” or “creative” if you will, so I have to rely on the engineers who are willing and open-minded enough to listen to non-engineers spitball and spout (sorry, it just came over me). I am broke, unemployed and consumed with helping find a solution to this heartbreaking man-made disaster. Mostly I am just trying to find a way to get to someone who will really listen, understands this is a global emergency, can marshal the necessary resources (think in terms of a declared national emergency and the powers that come with it), realizes we should be trying all possibilities simultaneously not “in parallel” (Honestly I think this whole time bp has really only been thinking linearly or liability containment, let’s try this, oh, that didn’t work, let’s try this… as for the saw getting bound up, I was furious seeing how they were cutting through it. When cutting horizontally through something, anything you always, always, always do a back cut or even two.! It’s in the “How to Saw” manual in the section between “Watch out! Saws are Sharp” and “When and How Loud to Yell TIMBER!!”.

    The most frustrating part of all of this is I know this solution could have already have been in place if we had only been able to get someone to listen from the start. Problem is they have over 8,000 submissions and not enough people to review them. They are also unwilling to release or publish them so that we out here trying to solve this mess for/with them can effectively help. “Joe Ellis” and your other listeners say that you are the one person who can make their voice be heard, so Mr. Ashbrook, please, do the voodoo that you do so well!

    By the way I also have a cleanup idea that uses barges, tugboats and a “Coast Guard Approved” oil recovery mat called the Ottimat(tm) I ran across it while researching and it is a fantastic product. It is 99% human hair and 1% polypropylene, it is re-usable (up to 100 times)and effective. I contacted the Ottimat(tm) manufacturer and he says he can manufacture the Ottimat(tm) in ten foot widths to any length we want. I chose 300 feet long, he said no problem. My idea is to create “Oil Recovery Factories” that operate thusly.

    -We would want to deploy the mats all over a spill area, it takes a few minutes for the oil to soak in. Then the barges come along scooping up the leading edge of the Ottimat(tm) which is then passed through a device similar to what you used to see on the old ringer washers (this one would be ten or so feet wide) where it is squeezed out. The oil is thusly removed to the hold of the barge or its on board tanks. Once the Ottimat(tm) is squeezed out it is passed to the stern (rear) of the boat where it is redeployed. We might have to attach some kind of buoyancy material to the edges or the centers of the mats but we won’t know until we try it out. Repeat this process over and over and over all over any spill areas. So far I can’t seem to get any one listening on this one, though I have to admit I have concentrated on controlling the flowing oil because long range wise it is or should be our number one priority. Plus the more we can prevent from entering the water, the easier (relative term there) the subsequent cleanup.

    To be honest this has kind of lifted me out of a funk of depression I have been in for a number of years. So I guess I should be a little grateful for that….

    Hope this gets read and not just posted. I have kept a copy and will begin sending it around to wherever I think it might be heard or acted on.

    One or two other things before I close, the Horizon Rsponse Center says they have received over 7,800 submissions (a reporter at Bloomberg who interviewed me told me she had heard 40,000 had been submitted as of Monday night)and that the technical review process is taking a long time…..my question, Why aren’t these submissions being posted on line as soon as they are received!? Why haven’t they hired enough staff to review them all in a matter of days!? There is a very large (and growing) community out here who would be willing at the very least to sort through them so the engineers don’t have to read through the same ideas from different people over and over and over again. Also there is a site called “Innocentive.com” which is a “problems seeking solutions site” that has been working on this on their own for more than a month. They have thousands of people who “work” on solutions there. there president was on Chris Matthews Wednesday night and Dwayne said they have assembled their best and brightest and are trying to submit a limited number (the best ones) and they were told to “use the form” provided by the “Deepwater Horizon web site”! Are you kidding me? The problem with the form is that you get 200 words to “describe your technology”, you get 100 words to list the “materials” needed, 100 words to list the “equipment needed” and 100 words to list the “expertise required or offered” (under that I told them “Me of Course! No, seriously call me I can help!” Honestly it seems a kind of half-hearted, grumbling and stomping juvenile attempt at best! I am guessing they have one very angry person reading all of them.

    Chris suggested that Dwayne submit his ideas directly to the Public Affairs director at the Department of Energy. That is where this is going next. Thanks to you and thanks to “Joe Ellis” for alerting me to your show. I called in today but you were already onto the Viet Nam War issue so I came up here and wrote instead.

    They just don’t seem to be able to get out of their “Oil field Mind-set” and think in terms of out of the box ideas. The binding saw was absolutely the last straw! I have been saying for a few days that bp needs to write one check. It should be made out to “The People Damaged by our Incompetence” and where the amount line is, it should simply read “bp” They should cease to exist! The only way to assure that this never happens again is to dissolve them. All the remaining oil companies will have a completely different attitude about fail-safes, back-up, harmonic valves, production targets, production bonuses and concrete plugs that only cure for 20 hours, etc. etc. etc.

  • http://www.filipinoboston.blogspot.com AKILEZ

    By the way, Please Stop blaming the Obama’s administration for BP’s demise.

    President Barack Obama is not sitting with a bunch for grade school students reading a Text Book Upside Down.

    I know he is doing something talking to people with vast knowledge on Oil Spills.

    There is only One company who is Truly (ire)responsible for this disaster and this British Petroleum.

    He is not responsible BP is.

    Time to help our Fellow Americans stop pointing fingers to anyone, point your middle finger to BP.

  • Mattie

    Until the relief well can be drilled, contain and capture the oil using a long, flexible pipe that extends to large military fuel bladders at the surface. These can float even in rough seas due to the buoyancy of the oil itself.

  • AKILEZ

    Louisiana Democrat Charlie Melancon, who broke into tears last week at a Capitol Hill hearing about the oil spill.

    “Our culture is threatened. Our coastal economy is threatened. And everything that I know and love is at risk,” Melancon, who represents many of the affected Louisiana shoreline areas, told his Capitol Hill colleagues. Unable to finish reading his prepared statement, Melancon submitted it for the congressional record and then walked out of the hearing room as other lawmakers sought to comfort him.

  • Cilla

    As usual, Robert Reich is right on. His is often the voice of both reason, and resolution. Would that the admin would listen to him more!

  • cory

    All they need to do is use a giant clothes pin and a huge piece of chewed bubble gum….

    I get a kick out of the suggestions for solutions posted here by everyday folks. I imagine BP has all sorts of engineers and various problem solvers in its employ, and probably will not be looking here for answers.

    I suggest we drain the ocean and then we could have much better access to the broken pipe….

  • Mark in NC

    I don’t feel sorry for anyone in the gulf for what’s going on. They historically elect extreme right wing politicians. They’re getting what they voted for. I’m from the coast of NC (Cape Hatteras) and we make sure our elected officials are not pro-offshore drill (at least as much as possible), and so far, so good.

    Next time, you may want to reconsider who you vote for down there.

  • Rachel

    Who uses oil? Humans. We are all to blame for this. Unless you live in a cave and walk everywhere, make your clothes out of natural fibers, etc…we all use oil and this is where it has landed us – for better or worse.

    Secondly, I don’t like the idea of waiting for the government to solve everything.

    Third, obviously it isn’t that easy to fix or they would have done it. It’s not like BP was just sitting around trying to figure out a way to lose a lot of money. I’m doing remodeling right now which is a far cry from fixing an oil leak and all I can say is it is hard as hell. When I try to fix one thing, I mess up another. Or when I come up with a brilliant plan on how to do something, it doesn’t work.

    Things that seem deceptively easy to fix are usually the most problematic.

  • informed American

    Mark, China, Vietnam, and Cuba have been drilling for oil in the Gulf for years. Are those communist countries extremely right wing as well smart guy? Try doing a little research before you post a ridiculous, out of touch with reality, liberal rant.

  • Busjh’s fault

    I compliment Ms Juhasz for properly characterizing this “spill” as a leak. This far from the worst oil disaster in history despite the chicken little attitude of NPR, FOX and other “news” outlets. cory is right…this too shall pass.

  • jeffe

    I compliment Ms Juhasz for properly characterizing this “spill” as a leak. This far from the worst oil disaster in history despite the chicken little attitude of NPR, FOX and other “news” outlets. cory is right…this too shall pass.
    Posted by Busjh’s fault, on June 3rd, 2010 at 6:11 PM

    Try going down to the Gulf of Mexico and say this to the fishermen and shrimpers all of whom are losing their lively hood. I’m sure they would all hand you your “chicken little attitude”.

  • John Goeckermann

    THE IMMEDIATE PROBLEM IS NOT TO STOP THE GUSHER.
    THE PROBLEM IS TO STOP THE OIL GETTING INTO THE ENVIRONMENT.
    HOW? DO THIS –>
    Cut 2 holes in the deck of a supertanker (capacity = 2 million barrels)
    USE NAVY SUBMARINES, Pull empty tanker to ocean floor.

    TURN UPSIDE DOWN.
    PLACE HOLE OVER GUSHER.
    OIL FLOATS UP INTO TANKER, AND STAYS THERE BECAUSE IT IS LIGHTER THAN WATER, WHICH IS DISPLACED BY OIL.

    O.K. NOW YOU HAVE 100 TO 200 DAYS TO GET OTHER HOLES DRILLED AND INTERCEPT AND SYPHON OFF THE OIL.

    NEED MORE TIME? USE A SECOND SUPERTANKER. KEEP THE FIRST INVERTED.

    AND OH YEAH – - THIS KEEPS HURRICANES FROM BEING INVOLVED – IF THEY KEEP EVERYTHING WELL BENEATH THE OCEAN SURFACE

  • steve minkwitz

    The original problem was that the hydraulic actutors on the BOP isolation valves failed to close the valves. Is it possible to replace the failed hydraulic actuators and run a hydraulic line to the new actuators on the BOP? Many times actuators are not intrgral to the valve and can be replaced for maintenance.

  • twenty-niner

    “I imagine BP has all sorts of engineers and various problem solvers in its employ, and probably will not be looking here for answers.”

    You’re right. Stopping fluid that’s pouring out of a pipe, under water, is the type of problem that we had better leave to the finest minds amongst us – the good folks at BP, who check and then double check all of their calculations and make sure there are plenty of fail-safe backups. Once they’ve figured out how to stop flow out of a pipe, they’ll have more time to tackle trivial problems like deep space travel and fusion.

  • Chris

    It sounds like if the blowout preventer had deployed properly, it’s most likely result would have been an oil- spewing crater. If so, is the blowout preventer dead as a security measure?

  • Joe Frisino

    If the well actually suffers a blowout is there a chance that it would be unstoppable? Does that mean that all the reservoir–billions of gallons–might come out?

  • http://artinfocus.com Michael Veronese

    America’s worst president, able to understand the problem and sit back and let British Petroleum ruin the coast of America with total SECRECY for corporate greed!
    No NO it’s not socialism to step in and protect the coast the eco systems. . . .Obama great error of judgment. . .BP is making the problem bad! OBAMA is making it a catastrophe!

    M

  • Toni

    It was noted that the well is 5000 feet below the surface of the water. It was noted on a former program that the pipe then goes 1000 feet below the ground from there. Can the original pipe be removed and let the oil return to its natural basin. Wouldn’t it just quit coming out of that pipe orifice if it was removed. And possibly covering over the opening from where the pipe would be removed.

  • David Pickens

    Now that BP has successfully cut the pipe – why don’t they now make a clean cut with a diamond saw?

  • http://www.fastcompany.com/1646820/could-the-gulf-oil-spill-could-cleaned-up-by-supertankers Jean

    It was very slick to see today’s oil expert move from the Saudis recovering oil with tankers to oil recovery on the Iraqi and Kuwaiti oil fields and a discussion of sand.

  • http://www.bluelabs.es Patricia Rodriguez

    Dear Sirs,
    To continue with Yesterday’s post, we wouls breifly like to show you the patent we are trying to push through since 2 years! that may prevent a lot of disasters like the Gulf ones. Please see: http://www.bluelabs.es It is a simple idea, so simple, that in the past we were told that it is too cheap and simple to serve as a good selling point for a big company in charge to solve any of these big disasters! (it needs to be expensive, big, complex, etc… to be good press for them. Out idea is VERY simple, and it was already demonstrated (in a trial case, smaller of course than the GULF problem) but we are sure it will work! Since we are a very small SME, no one is listening: when there is no disaster they do not listen because the project might not be as big as deserving the possible sponsors’ interest; and when there is a disaster, they do not listen to small SMEs… not even the Administration!
    We would like some one to evaluate the feasibility of this easy solution for such disasters: http://www.bluelabs.es.
    Thank you for allowing us to express our opinion in this post.

  • Rachel

    I’m so sick of people turning this into a blaming of political parties. If you use oil, and I’m sure you do, then take responsibility. The blood is on all our hands until we find a clean source of energy.

  • Richard

    Dear Mr. Ashbrook,

    Here’s a suggestion for improving “On Point”: Show some respect for our guests, callers and listeners by keeping quiet when you don’t have anything crucial to say. I suspect that 99&44/100% of the listeners to this program already knew that “BOP” is an acronym for “blowout preventer”. Interrupting Prof. Tad Patzek to repeat this tidbit was not merely superfluous, it interrupted the professor’s exposition. I understand that you must occasionally interrupt when guest (particularly a politician) or a caller goes on too long, but this was clearly not such a case.

    Do you have some clause in your contract that requires you to say something, no matter how irrelevant, redundant or inane, every 30 seconds or so?

  • d-Arcy

    I sometime have to wonder if people understand. They make comments such as “The blood is on all our hands until we find a clean source of energy.” Wise up! Coal, oil and natural gas are not used for energy alone. Switch (by magic bullet) all transportation to electricity and you will still need lubricants, those derived from petroleum being the most common. You can derive lubricants from whale and other animal fats; imagine the “green” response to that.

    Another example: A caller on an edition a couple weeks ago opined that we should have electric cars with carbon fiber bodies. OK, “carbon”! Where do we get carbon for carbon fiber? Coal, oil and natural gas. Where do we get the resins in which we embed the carbon fibers? If you didn’t guess “Coal, oil and natural gas” go to the back of the class

  • http://www.ckollars.org/ Chuck Kollars

    After listening on this program to the immediate and very negative reaction against the idea of using a nuke, I was flabbergasted and disappointed to find the nuke idea is now being used as a headline on the NPR website!

  • Jim Papadopoulos PhD PE

    I am an experienced engineer. I earned my PhD in engineering at MIT. While there I ran a lab focused on oilfield drilling and fracturing, so I have a little familiarity with at least some of the issues. I have taken graduate courses in rock mechanics and reservoir engineering. I have an inventive nature with various patents and products to my credit.

    Most of the ideas in this discussion are similar to things I had previously decided have a good chance of working. So I don’t think I need to advocate for anything different. The one technical point that seems to be missing from much thinking (mine included, originally) is the question of whether it can be safe to cap the well. There seems to be some unstated fear that the reservoir pressure, once it builds up in a capped pipe, could get through the steel casing or perhaps the bad cement job, and create an UNSTOPPABLE much greater flow. If that is true, all the credible methods of sealing the pipe in the top 100 ft would not be a good idea. But various ways of capturing oil or channelling it to the ocean surface would be tremendously desirable.

    At this point I feel the issue is less a technological challenge than one of management, politics, and perhaps uncreditable motives.
    *Why is there no website or other information source with full technological information about the conditions, the pipe, the leaks, the steel strength, the cement quality etc.? Those who could help, need to be told explicitly what the real problems are.
    *Why is it impossible to attain credible technical interchange with either BP or with the Incident Command (Admiral Allen’s staff)?
    *Why isn’t there a genuine process, by our government if not BP, to solicit and act on genuinely good ideas? Surely they could put together a blue ribbon technical committee to write immediate responses to classes of suggestions? I think an open internet forum would be the proper tool.

    Overall there is an evident lack of concern for solutions or their rapidity. At this point I am disgusted with BP, our government, and most of our media (OnPoint excepted!)

    Thank you for listening. If you would create a website with experts to openly critique suggestions, I would contribute at once. Alternatively you could have some experts on-air beyond Professor Patzek, whose concerns about steel embrittlement and bursting I believe were both unfounded, and missed the point of the real dangers from sealing the well.

    Jim Papadopoulos
    Green Bay

  • ReichisWrong

    I’m sorry I missed the show. Among the questions I would have liked posed to Mr Reich, regarding his rather nasty socialist tendencies, are:-

    There are 2 other companies with ongoing oil spills in the Gulf. Is he up for an asset seizure here as well?

    http://motherjones.com/blue-marble/2010/06/two-more-gulf-spills

    Exxon are wantonly contaminating the Niger river delta, and have done so for years. Perhaps Mr Reich would like Nigeria to seize the assets of Exxon to pay for the mess? If not, why not?

    http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-06-06/exxon-nigerian-unit-oil-spill-caused-by-corrosion-update1-.html

    Is he familiar with Bhopal? Should India, which has still not received satisfaction from Dow, set about seizing assets?

    http://www1.voanews.com/english/news/asia/-India-Reviews-Tougher-Laws-For-Industrial-Disasters–96043459.html

  • http://www.ckollars.org/ Chuck Kollars

    I would like to see this show (at least the portion about ideas from the public) revisited in another show. Ask:
    – what was the cost of soliciting ideas from the public?
    – what previous experience with crowdsourcing was brought to bear? what outside advisors were consulted?
    – was this crowdsourcing effort realistic, or was it a “PR stunt?”
    – were any useful ideas discovered?
    – were the typical submitted ideas just “unconventional”, or were they outright “irrelevant,” and if so why?
    – in the end, did the general public feel assuaged, or _more_ frustrated than before?
    – would soliciting ideas from organized collaboratives of inventor/innovators have worked better than soliciting them from the general public?

    As examples, a couple of the points I’d like to see covered:

    The reason almost all the submitted ideas were so irrelevant is the huge gulf between the folk understanding of drilling technology and how current well technology actually drills and manages boreholes. If you want the right “answer,” ask the right “question” — duh. Ask the overly simplistic question how to stopper the flow, and that’s exactly what the answers will address. Where was the problem statement? Where was the list of constraints? Leaving plenty of space for serendipity is one thing, but ridiculously under-defining the problem is another.

    The replies to submited ideas should have been more than the same form letter back to everyone. If an idea was rejected, the submitter should have been given at least some very general idea WHY it wasn’t accepted, rather than having to say (as a typical submitter did) “I have no idea of why…”. No explanation whatsoever leaves the submitter feeling even more ignored than before. Just a few generic paragraphs (“an oil column 2 miles long and 10 inches in diameter traveling at 20 mph has inertia of X, if the column were stopped abruptly from above, this force would rupture all the casings”, “the oil pressure is estimated at 13000-18000 psi, for comparison the fluid in a home air condioner may reach 120 psi, and a 4000 psi leak stripped the paint off a truck 100 feet away in 5 seconds”, “this course of action would close off all other options, we’re not ready for ‘last resort’ solutions yet”, etc.), with the responder selecting the most appropriate one, would have covered almost all the ideas.

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