US officials have ruled out the use of a nuclear blast to halt the seemingly uncontrollable BP oil leak off the Gulf of Mexico.
Indeed, Energy Department spokesperson Stephanie Mueller told the New York Times that the nuclear option “was not and never had been” on the table.
Los Alamos spokesperson Kevin Roark expressed similar sentiments.
“Nothing of the sort is going on here,” said Roark.
“In fact, we’re not working on any intervention ideas at all. We’re providing diagnostics and other support but nothing on the intervention side.”
However, Houston energy expert Matt Simmons told Bloomberg News that the detonation of a nuclear device remained a viable option.
“Probably the only thing we can do is create a weapon system and send it down 18,000 feet and detonate it, hopefully encasing the oil,” said Simmons.
Supporters of the so-called nuclear option highlight the Soviet Union’s reported success in using nukes to seal gas wells by inserting a bomb deep underground and allowing its fiery heat to melt the surrounding rock.
Nevertheless, a senior Los Alamos scientist told the New York Times the US would never attempt such a risky endeavor.
“It’s not going to happen. Technically, it would be exploring new ground in the midst of a disaster and you might make it worse.”
Meanwhile, BP has managed to place a containment cap over the ruptured well and is collecting approximately 1,000 barrels per day.
That amount could increase if BP closes vents at the bottom of the cap to trap more oil.
“[And] sometime later today we’ll probably be able to get…an approximation of how much oil we [can capture],” Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen said in a conference call quoted by Reuters.