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Hundred-Ton Dome To Collect Oil Spill

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the big-fire-go-boom dept.

Earth 565

eldavojohn writes "After failing to contain the Gulf oil spill any other way, a massive containment dome had the finishing touches put on yesterday. It amounts to a giant concrete-and-steel box made by Wild Well Control that is designed to siphon the crude oil away from the water. They expect an 85 percent collection with this device. It's not a pretty situation as Google Earth illustrates."

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And - It WORKS!!!! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32099014)

Latest reports are that the smallest of the three leaks is now contained. Hopefully the other two will quickly follow suit !

So it was the gypsies all along... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32099086)

Evidently, the gypsies running the show at Exxon were playing games all along [google.com] and sabotaged BP's equipment. I wonder how this is going to end up in the next UN summit.

Re:And - It WORKS!!!! (2, Informative)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099414)

This was done the old fashioned way using remote submersibles and capping the pipe with a valve.

Simpsons Did It...... (-1, Troll)

DirtyCanuck (1529753) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099420)

Seriously though. I can just see Obama with 5 options in front of him.

President Schwarzenegger: Ach! Everything is "crisis this" and "end-of-the-world that"! No one opens with a joke! I miss Danny DeVito.

Russ Cargill: You like jokes, huh? Well, stop me if you've heard this one.
[holds up cage with the mutant squirrel]

President Schwarzenegger: [gasp] Look at all those angry eyes and pointy teeth! It's like Christmas at the Kennedy Compound!

Russ Cargill: Mr. President, you chose me, Russ Cargill, most successful man in America, to head the EPA, the least successful government agency. Why did I take the job? Because I'm just a rich guy who wants to kick some ass for good old Mother Earth. I want to give something back. Not the money, but something. That's why I've narrowed your choices down to five unthinkable options.
[spreads the files on the President's desk]

Russ Cargill: Each one will cause untold misery and...

President Schwarzenegger: [points to File #3] I pick Number Three!

Russ Cargill: Really? You don't want to read them first?

President Schwarzenegger: I was elected to *lead*, not to *read*. Number Three!

Kind of a Scary Prophecy when it's all in context, eh?

Re:And - It WORKS!!!! (4, Informative)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099470)

No, the dome isn't even lowered yet. The first leak was sealed using submersibles. Furthermore, it isn't expected that sealing that leak will do much (if anything) to reduce the total outflow.

Man. (1, Redundant)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099034)

Here's to hoping it works. This is one major clusterfuck, and a really unfortunate one at that. If this concrete dealy doesn't work, what other options do they have?

Re:Man. (2, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099140)

Pay politicians more money to make sure they can continue drilling.

Re:Man. (1, Informative)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099272)

What's wrong with offshore drilling? Please tell me you aren't someone who is going to condemn an entire industry because of one accident. No human enterprise ever attempted managed to get underway without mistakes. The important thing here is to learn what went wrong and take steps to ensure that it doesn't happen again in the future.

For better or worse human civilization can not exist without environmental impact. The knee-jerk reaction to this unfortunate incident by certain politicians is disappointing to say the least.

You won't mind if I poop in your yard, then? (5, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099438)

Who pays for the mistakes? Who pays for the environmental impact? If BP were forced to shoulder the entire cost of this mistake, they would go bankrupt. And so, as usual, it is the rest of us who will have to pay. Socialism for the rich, paid for by the poor.

If you and I lived next to each other, and I ran a pipe from my toilet into your yard, you would be pretty pissed off, wouldn't you? You'd probably demand I stop shitting in your yard. And I would say, "Human civilization can not exist without environmental impact, shit happens, get over your knee jerk reaction and get used to it, hippie."

Re:You won't mind if I poop in your yard, then? (3, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099556)

Who pays for the mistakes? Who pays for the environmental impact?

You are welcome to try the alternative of not living in an energy intensive society if that would better suit your needs. I hear that sub-Saharan Africa is wonderful this time of year.

If BP were forced to shoulder the entire cost of this mistake, they would go bankrupt.

Got a citation for that or are you just making assumptions?

If you and I lived next to each other, and I ran a pipe from my toilet into your yard, you would be pretty pissed off, wouldn't you?

Bad analogy, because that implies a deliberate decision was made to cause this oil spill. A better analogy would be that your sewer pipe fails for whatever reason and floods my yard with shit. In that instance I would expect you to clean up the mess and fix the pipe -- actions that are well under way in the Gulf of Mexico.

Re:You won't mind if I poop in your yard, then? (4, Insightful)

Remus Shepherd (32833) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099718)

Who pays for the mistakes? Who pays for the environmental impact?

You are welcome to try the alternative of not living in an energy intensive society if that would better suit your needs.

When did 'energy intensive society' come to mean 'poor people pay when the rich screw up'?

A better analogy would be that your sewer pipe fails for whatever reason and floods my yard with shit.

No, a better analogy is that his sewer pipe fails and covers the entire neighborhood with shit...and because cleaning that up would bankrupt him, everyone affected is told to pitch in and give him money for cleaning up his own mess. Screw that.

Re:You won't mind if I poop in your yard, then? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32099900)

When did 'energy intensive society' come to mean 'poor people pay when the rich screw up'?

When did Shakrai say that it did? He was saying that offshore drilling is not an inherently bad thing; this is nowhere near the same as approving of caps for cleanup costs.

Re:You won't mind if I poop in your yard, then? (4, Insightful)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099784)

Why exactly is it that the corporate apologists *always* fall back on either a strawman or a false dichotomy? As if there was no alternative between drilling for as much oil as we can get our hands on and living in sub-saharan conditions. As for the cleanup in the Gulf - you realize that the liability of BP is capped by law at a ridiculously low amount? As always, the profit is funneled to the corps, mostly bypassing taxation, while the externalities are offloaded on society. If all those investments into drilling for oil under ever more extreme conditions, which were largely funded by tax-breaks and deregulation, would have been directed to alternative energy sources and infrastructures, we would be quite a bit closer to the point where we could finally stop squandering a valuable chemical resource like oil by burning it.

Re:You won't mind if I poop in your yard, then? (0, Troll)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#32100004)

We are paying for the majority of the impact, which is far more than just mopping up the oil, not BP. As others have already raised the issues with your pathetic defense of Big Business that I was going to raise, I will let you respond to them instead. I look forward to reading your replies to Mindcontrolled and Remus.

You do realize that continually defending the owning class will not convince them to let you into their club, don't you? You are their useful idiot, defending the indefensible so they don't even have to sully themselves debating the hoi polloi. And you will be paid for your effort, with their mocking laughter.

Re:You won't mind if I poop in your yard, then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32099702)

From what I've read BP is entirely capable of paying all of the expenses of this mess. I've heard numbers as high as $8 Billion. BP has something like $180B to it's name.
 
  There is a chance for them to recover from this mess. Even if it's double, triple, quadruple that cost. Let's say it's $32B I see it hurting them very seriously, but they're not going bankrupt...

Re:You won't mind if I poop in your yard, then? (3, Informative)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099984)

BP can handle it.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/7640072/BP-Gulf-clean-up-could-cost-200m.html [telegraph.co.uk]

Cost of clean up, $200 million

http://www.investmentu.com/IUEL/2010/May/the-gulf-of-mexico-oil-disaster.html [investmentu.com]

$2-7 billion

BP
Revenue - $246.1 billion (2009)
Operating income - $26.43 billion (2009)
Net income - $16.58 billion (2009)

http://www.bp.com/liveassets/bp_internet/globalbp/STAGING/global_assets/downloads/B/bp_fourth_quarter_and_full_year_2009_results.pdf [bp.com]

Re:Man. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32099484)

If 100 things can go wrong and we need a different disaster to figure out each of them, we might end up with the oceans covered in tar before we get it right.

Re:Man. (4, Insightful)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099630)

"condemn an entire industry because of one accident" ... one accident and their complete lack of preparedness for it.

If it was some fly-by-night corp, this would be expected. BP is a bit bigger and more established and should have had measures in place to deal, or attempt to deal, with this sort of scenario. And considering they seem to cook off a rig or two (in the event hurricanes don't do it for them) when ever it looks like oil prices aren't where they want them to be at they should at least be prepared to deal with the cleanup.

Re:Man. (1)

r_naked (150044) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099704)

Fuck you very much....

It is all about risk versus reward, and let's see, risk: major oil spill that is really going to fuck the eco system up for a long time (potentially world wide). Reward: none. Yep, ZERO reward. Oil should just go away already. As long as it sticks around, the longer we are NOT going to have alternative fuel sources taken seriously.

Now I am not some eco-nut that is against everything that could damage the environment. Hell, come build another 10 or so nuke plants in my backyard and I will be a happy camper. Risk: when using a breeder reactor -- none (well so close to zero that it might as well be zero). Reward: 100% clean energy.

Bottom line, have oil wash up on your beach and then tell me that you would be cool with them "drill baby drilling".

On the flip side, if one of our nuke plants in the state I live in went Chernobyl, I would most assuredly change my opinion of nuke plants.

Re:Man. (4, Insightful)

piquadratCH (749309) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099826)

Please tell me you aren't someone who is going to condemn an entire industry because of one accident. No human enterprise ever attempted managed to get underway without mistakes.

If it's an industry where one mistake translates to environmental and economical damage on the scale we are witnessing at the gulf coast right now, then yes, condemning (and perhaps even abolishing) said industry may be the right thing to do.

Re:Man. (3, Informative)

rrhal (88665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099858)

What's wrong with offshore drilling? Please tell me you aren't someone who is going to condemn an entire industry because of one accident. No human enterprise ever attempted managed to get underway without mistakes. The important thing here is to learn what went wrong and take steps to ensure that it doesn't happen again in the future.

What went wrong was believing the the oil companies when they said they had a plan in the first place. When ever there's a mistake we get boned. Every time - this isn't just an isolated case - the industry has a 100% track record with major oils spills. The contingency plan that was supposed to keep this from happening didn't get implemented or just wasn't sufficient.

For better or worse human civilization can not exist without environmental impact. The knee-jerk reaction to this unfortunate incident by certain politicians is disappointing to say the least.

It is unfortunate that the knee-jerk reaction of a certain number of politicians is going to be to defend the oil companies and their actions will predictably be enough to keep us from making any real progress.

Re:Man. (3, Interesting)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099160)

If this concrete dealy doesn't work, what other options do they have?

My understanding is that the only other option is to drill a relief well. Unfortunately it will take months before they have the equipment and logistics in place to do that.

I'd like to know how this dome is supposed to work in rough seas. The oil is going to be contained within the dome and brought to a surface ship. What happens when that surface ship can't maintain position due to inclement weather? Hurricane season starts in another few weeks....

Re:Man. (1)

codepunk (167897) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099456)

They are just going to drop that containment dome over the blow off valve. It is not going to be suspended by the ship.

Re:Man. (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099682)

They are just going to drop that containment dome over the blow off valve. It is not going to be suspended by the ship.

I thought they were also planning to siphon off the oil... I wouldn't think this dome would be heavy enough to contain the immense pressures inside that well, particularly when combined with the bouyancy of the oil itself.

Re:Man. (4, Informative)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099636)

I'd like to know how this dome is supposed to work in rough seas. The oil is going to be contained within the dome and brought to a surface ship. What happens when that surface ship can't maintain position due to inclement weather? Hurricane season starts in another few weeks....

Probably the same way the original rig [wikipedia.org] , which was a semi-submersible, dynamically positioned platform, was controlled: via a system of computer-controlled engines which maintain the vessel's position over the drill site.

Re:Man. (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099342)

Figure out who to sue and how. Much more important issue.

Re:Man. (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099360)

Figure out who to sue and how.

This is America. That's easy. Everybody.

Re:Man. (4, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099448)

If this doesn't work, their next option is to wall off the Gulf of Mexico, drain the water, and let the entire thing fill with oil like a gigantic bathtub. Then, we'll get a bunch of old hippies together, throw in a giant effigy, light the whole thing on fire, and have the best Burning Man festival ever!

Re:Man. (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099498)

I'd go...

Halliburton company holiday party! (1)

Kyont (145761) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099844)

Dick Cheney would be proud to swing by this company party to pick up his yearly pension check.

This thread is worthless without pics (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32099050)

They're gonna build whaat?

Re:This thread is worthless without pics (5, Insightful)

halivar (535827) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099208)

Consider R'ing TFA. Second link has pics. Dear Lord, people, who in the world ties your shoes in the morning?

Re:This thread is worthless without pics (2, Funny)

dunezone (899268) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099412)

No need to tie Velcro shoes.

Re:This thread is worthless without pics (4, Funny)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099508)

No need to tie Velcro shoes.

But you can still try.

Re:This thread is worthless without pics (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099848)

So that's what I've been doing wrong...

Re:This thread is worthless without pics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32099490)

my mommy ties my shoes every morning before I go to work :D

85% (4, Insightful)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099058)

That number would be more encouraging if the amount coming out were not so massive. This spill is going to create a lot of suck for years to come.

Re:85% (2, Funny)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099084)

But look on the bright side. Jersey Shore can now have crude oil wrestling!

Re:85% (0)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099402)

But look on the bright side. Jersey Shore can now have crude oil wrestling!

Apparently you are not smarter than a 5th grader, at least with regards to geography.... ;)

Re:85% (1)

Seq (653613) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099892)

Give him a break, he's from Jersey.

Re:85% (1)

d34dluk3 (1659991) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099918)

Jersey Shore is in Miami next season, FYI.

Re:85% (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099372)

it blows, not sucks. If it sucked, it would be a different problem.

Re:85% (1)

ejtttje (673126) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099482)

Hopefully they'll be able to do something about the remaining 15% after they get the majority under control. :(
I don't understand why they don't have skimmers for harvesting the oil off the surface of the water instead of trying to burn it or break it down with even more chemicals.

Re:85% (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099940)

They're trying to do that (Roughly 3 million litres collected so far), but the weather is not cooperating. It's too windy for that to work well. It's also hampering the effectiveness of the containment booms.

Good luck with that (2, Interesting)

Huntr (951770) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099114)

Never been tried > 350 feet of water [washingtonpost.com] . And the wellhead is a mile down. Fingers are crossed, tho'.

Re:Good luck with that (1)

zero_out (1705074) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099434)

1 mile = 5280 feet, for those who never memorized it, or don't ever work with imeprial units.

Re:Good luck with that (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32099602)

Thanks for telling us the equivalency of one imperial unit with another imperial unit, that helps a lot!*

* sorry if I broke anyone's sarcasm meter.

Re:Good luck with that (2, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099778)

1 mile = 9.96 * 10^37 Planck Lengths for those who are insane, physicists, or both.

American Chernobyl (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32099128)

I don't understand why they can't just bury it under 100 tons of concrete.

And that structure looks nothing like a dome.


Does't the oil business have contingency plans for this kind of thing?! And companies that specialize in this kind of work?! America is filling the Gulf with FAIL.

Re:American Chernobyl (4, Insightful)

DJCacophony (832334) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099198)

Actually, it's the UK filling the Gulf with FAIL

Not the UK, BP! (0)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099646)

Actually, it's the UK filling the Gulf with FAIL

Actually it's an International Company called "British Petroleum" with British roots that, if we want to get technical has been since 1935 or earlier [wikipedia.org] . I don't know how the fault lays on the United Kingdom or its people for this, they have been operating in the United States for quite sometime--they even have American headquarters in Houston! Blame the company and the lax safety regulations where it happened (if it turns out they followed all safety precautions and this still happened), don't blame the UK. I certainly wouldn't want to be a BP shareholder right now [google.com] .

Re:Not the UK, BP! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32099782)

Actually it's an international company called BP, it hasn't been British Petroleum for quite some time.

Re:American Chernobyl (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32099684)

Bwah? You mean the US-staffed, US-built, US-run oil rig, that just happens to have a parent company with the name "British" in it?

Notice how the BP spokesperson is a USian? This disaster was caused by lax US safety regulations. Nothing to do with the UK.

Re:American Chernobyl (3, Informative)

whitehatnetizen (997645) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099244)

Re:American Chernobyl (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099394)

They don't want to lose the well. Burying it in concrete (if there is a way to do it) would destroy their ability to extract anymore oil from it, they had little reason to research how that could be done. The hundred ton dome lets them still collect oil.

Re:American Chernobyl (1)

lostsoulz (1631651) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099906)

No, you can't bury a blowout with concrete. If they are unable to cycle the rig's subsea BOPs or otherwise shut it in, the well will continue to produce until a relief well intersects this payzone and pumps kill-weight mud.

Re:American Chernobyl (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099698)

I don't understand why they can't just bury it under 100 tons of concrete.

I see you're modded as funny... Serious answer though is the bottom of the GoM is pretty much just muck/slime/goo. It'll just bubble out via the next easiest path.

Ironically, the currently winning theory at the oildrum is the blow out was caused by a cement failure. Something down there doesn't cement-seal very well, so the simplistic solution of dumping more is possibly not the best engineering solution.

Does't the oil business have contingency plans for this kind of thing?!

Ummm, you'll notice they're working like an anthill stirred up with a stick, not exactly sitting around posting to slashdot all day waiting to decide what to do. You can accuse BP, the drillers, the Haliburton cement crew, the govt, and others involved, of many different things, but not having a plan and implementing it at warp speed is just not an educated accusation.

Fill, baby fill! (-1, Troll)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099162)

Why don't they just collect all the oil in Sarah Palin's big empty head?

Re:Fill, baby fill! (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099252)

I'd like to know if she's given her opinion on this. I'm sure it would be insightful.

She Did Comment On It (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099516)

I'd like to know if she's given her opinion on this. I'm sure it would be insightful.

Well, from Swamp Politics [swamppolitics.com] :

There will be a lot of hearings "to discover the cause of the explosion and the subsequent leak," Palin writes ,and action will be taken "to increase oversight to prevent future accidents....

"Government can and must play an appropriate role here," she adds. "If a company was lax in its prevention practices, it must be held accountable. It is inexcusable for any oil company to not invest in preventative measures. They must be held accountable or the public will forever distrust the industry..."

Yet, she contends, "even with the strictest oversight in the world, accidents still happen. No human endeavor is ever without risk - whether it's sending a man to the moon or extracting the necessary resources to fuel our civilization.

"I repeat the slogan "drill here, drill now" not out of naiveté or disregard for the tragic consequences of oil spills.... I continue to believe in it because increased domestic oil production will make us a more secure, prosperous, and peaceful nation."

I don't know if I'd call it insightful but it seems to be a route to maintain her initial assertions of drilling here. I'm certainly not a fan of Palin but that response is probably a lot more reasonable than you or I were hoping for. She and I just share a fundamental disagreement about where our country's focuses for energy and energy independence should lie.

what are the chemical dispersants? (4, Interesting)

fantomas (94850) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099192)

Can anybody tell me about the chemical dispersants? what happens to the 'dispersed' oil plus these chemicals? This is a naive question, please educate me but surely this means you now have oil+chemical in your water rather than just oil in your water - is the dilution level so low that it doesn't affect the sealife that is later caught to eat, does it combine with the oil to something that it relatively innocuous that breaks down in sunlight, or something that sinks to the sea bed etc?

Information welcomed, just curious about what happens to that oil if its not skimmed off the surface or burnt off, but chemically treated and left in the ocean and left there. Maybe it's just so dilute it doesn't matter, I don't know. Any knowledge on this, folks?

Re:what are the chemical dispersants? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32099266)

It's soap, basically.

Quick thing to try at home: mix some oil and water in a cup. It's all separated and the oil quickly rises to the top. Now toss in some soap and mix again: it all dissolves together.

Of course, this is seawater, crude oil, and some hilariously toxic "soap", but it should let the oil dissolve and "disperse" among the rest of the ocean instead of being clumped all in one place.

Re:what are the chemical dispersants? (1)

spike2131 (468840) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099512)

Soap + undisclosed proprietary chemicals that are known to bio-accumulate. It will be nice having that enter the food chain.

Re:what are the chemical dispersants? (1)

Silentknyght (1042778) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099904)

Soap + undisclosed proprietary chemicals that are known to bio-accumulate. It will be nice having that enter the food chain.

I think we'll need a citation, specifically with reference to the bioaccumulation aspects, to avoid calling that complete FUD.

Re:what are the chemical dispersants? (1)

halivar (535827) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099278)

The oil droplets descend to the bottom of the ocean. Some ecologists think this is worse than letting it sit on top of the ocean. You can clean birds, but you can't clean the plankton that feed the bottom of the food chain.

Re:what are the chemical dispersants? (5, Interesting)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099524)

Those who think letting the oil sink is a bad idea are a distinct minority.

Sure, if there wasn't oil in the water we wouldn't want to dump dispersants in, but there is, so this is the lesser of two evils.

The sea floor is a veritable desert compared to the ocean surface. The food chain starts in the first 10' of water, where plankton have access to sunlight.

There are creatures that will be effected by oil on the sea floor like crabs and such, but it's still better than letting it run ashore.

Briefly, oil on the ocean floor or dispersed in the water column is bad. Oil on the ocean surface is worse. And oil on the ocean surface at the shoreline and in the estuaries is an ecological catastrophe.

Re:what are the chemical dispersants? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32099882)

The problem is that in any complex situation, the number of people who are knowledgeable and intelligent and unbiased enough to actually reason this stuff out and come to the optimal solution are always a minority. The majority, even the majority of experts, are clueless. Then there's plenty of experts who are interested in improving the situation, but for a different value of "improve the situation" than the rest of us. Usually that definition involves placating the ignorant masses. Making the oil less apparent on the surface, regardless of the actual environmental impact, placates people. Out of sight, out of mind is the order of the day.

Re:what are the chemical dispersants? (5, Informative)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099898)

Actually, you basically can't clean birds. It is just a feelgood measure. At the point where you pick them up, they have been trying to clean themselves already, thereby ingesting a huge amount of crude. Even if you get them clean and they don't die from the stress, they die of organ failure due to the toxicity rather sooner than later. The average survival time for a cleaned bird is 1-5 days, from the last data I have seen. It would be better to just euthanize them.

Re:what are the chemical dispersants? (5, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099572)

Can anybody tell me about the chemical dispersants? what happens to the 'dispersed' oil plus these chemicals?

See wikipedia "Bile" entry... Similar concept but in an ocean rather than the guts.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bile [wikipedia.org]

To make a very long story very short, oil naturally biodegrades over time by water internal-chemistry organisms, not oil internal-chemistry organisms. At a rate directly proportional to the surface area of the drop. Giant "ball" of oil the size of a football stadium will take much longer than a nearly infinite cloud of little microscopic droplets.

If a life form existed on earth with oil based protoplasm rather than water, you wouldn't need the dispersant because that life form could live inside the volume of the oil as opposed to upon the surface...

Think about bio sources of oil in the ocean. if there were no way to degrade oil, the oceans would be full of cod liver oil and whale oil. Similar with natural seeps of crude.

Much like radioactivity, crude is mostly harmless when properly distributed at an extremely low level in a large volume... its concentrated stuff thats the problem.

Re:what are the chemical dispersants? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32099590)

Google "Corexit 9527" or "Corexit 9500"

These are the dispersants being used. Essentially they break up the chains of hydrocarbons in the oil causing it to disperse in the water. This works better in deeper water.

Think of a water column that is 1 meter square by 30 meters deep. The oil floating on top is extremely thin. The dispersant breaks up that oil and dilutes it into the entire water column.

The dispersant's specific gravity is less than that of water, but greater than oil so it gets between the water and the floating oil. A little bit of wave action helps work the dispersant into the oil causing it to be most effective.

Re:what are the chemical dispersants? (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099810)

Can anybody tell me about the chemical dispersants? what happens to the 'dispersed' oil plus these chemicals? This is a naive question, please educate me but surely this means you now have oil+chemical in your water rather than just oil in your water - is the dilution level so low that it doesn't affect the sealife that is later caught to ea

Remember, oil floats, so an oil spill doesn't have oil in the water. It has oil on the water. You've got a layer of toxic pure oil sitting on top of the water. The dispersants allow it dilute into the depth of the water. This then allows the oil to be broken down by microorganisms. Oil is biodegradable (Remember, it once was animal and plant matter), but only low concentrations due to the toxicity. Over time, it will be broken down back into hydrogen and carbon.

Re:what are the chemical dispersants? (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099998)

Eventually something eats it and turns it into poop.

There are bacteria that eat oil.

What about oil eating bacteria? (1)

Apagador-Man (707934) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099200)

Hmm... weren't there some news, years back, concerning some sort of bacteria that ate oil, consuming it?

Would the resulting products be also quite nasty, or was it all an hoax?

Spy Next Door (1)

bigrockpeltr (1752472) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099526)

Bob Ho stopped them!

D'ome! (2, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099220)

They tried it on Springfield.

Re:D'ome! (1)

Taibhsear (1286214) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099640)

Oblig. "Simpsons did it!"

I know what a siphon is! (1)

RNLockwood (224353) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099228)

"...is designed to siphon the crude oil away from the water."

Really?

siphon
  - a tube running from the liquid in a vessel to a lower level outside the vessel so that atmospheric pressure forces the liquid through the tube.

  - A pipe or tube fashioned or deployed in an inverted U shape and filled until atmospheric pressure is sufficient to force a liquid from a reservoir in one end of the tube over a barrier higher than the reservoir and out the other end.

  - To draw off or convey through or as if through a siphon.

Re:I know what a siphon is! (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099368)

Really. The third definition fits nicely--"as if through a siphon". The pipe will not technically be a siphon tube, but the oil will flow through it in a similar manner.

Re:I know what a siphon is! (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099808)

Yeah, I find it really hilarious that they'd go to the trouble to quote the definition but not realize that one of them works.

Pedantry failure: Reboot semantic centers of brain and try again!

I think most people understood that the word was used in a non-literal sense to imply the intent of getting the oil from under the dome, not the actual mechanics.

Re:I know what a siphon is! (1)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099568)

you know ... they're probably going to attach a tube to the dome. And buoyant forces will force the liquid through it (though they'll probably pump too).

Re:I know what a siphon is! (1)

zero_out (1705074) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099616)

Yes, really.

Siphoning is the act of using a tube with different levels of pressure at each end to transfer a liquid from one end to the other. Using atmospheric pressure or different elevations is just one method of siphoning.

The greater level of water pressure at the bottom will push the oil (mixed with water) up to the lower level of pressure at the top of the box/tube contraption, where it will be whisked away in a controlled fashion (rather than dispersing into the Gulf).

It's much like sucking water out of a glass with a straw. The greater pressure from the water at the bottom of the glass pushes the water up the straw to the lower level of pressure inside your mouth. This is also siphoning.

Calling it a "dome" is a bit of a stretch. (1)

synth7 (311220) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099246)

I understand that, conceptually, people want to talk about how this works like dropping a dome over the top of the leak, but I'm afraid that this structure is in no way even close to a dome. Hell, I'd be more apt to call it a "four sided cylinder" than a dome and be just about as correct. Twenty bucks says they started off with the concept and the label and then didn't bother to change the label when the engineers told them how difficult it would be to build and maneuver a dome around. So they ask the engineers to make it functional and they get an open-ended box with a pyramidal cap... all the while the managers are standing around watching while murmuring, "Yep... that dome is shaping up nicely..." This whole event has made me wonder how many times in ancient history that a sea floor fault has released spills like this (or worse) in the distant geological past. Seems like we should be ready for this type of event even if we aren't the ones punching the hole through the abyssal plain of the sea floor..

The "dome" is called a cofferdam. (2, Insightful)

Edgetek (1801436) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099292)

The cofferdam, although not being tried in this deep of water is really their best option at this point.

Re:The "dome" is called a cofferdam. (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099654)

"Cofferdam" would confuse techtards, although the term was common in schools a few decades back when bridge construction was still considered worthy of understanding.

Good news everyone! (1)

AnotherAnonymousUser (972204) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099418)

A dome you say? Did they opt for diamondium or diamondilium?

Should have had these waiting on the shelf (2, Insightful)

spike2131 (468840) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099422)

I've been amazed at the Oil industries apparent inability to do any contingency planning. If this dome technology is known to be the best quick-fix for containing this type of oil leak, they should have had a few of them already built and sitting on a back lot in Port Arthur, just in case.

Instead, they have to construct them from scratch when the emergency presents itself. That's resulted in a huge waste of time as the clock is ticking and the environment becomes more and more damaged.

Having spares would have been a cheap insurance policy. Don't these people even think about risk mitigation?

Re:Should have had these waiting on the shelf (2, Informative)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099454)

Don't these people even think about risk mitigation?

They did. They had a blowout valve in place that was supposed to kill the oil flow. It failed. Not something that has ever happened before and not something that could have been predicted.

We could conduct offshore drilling for the next hundred years and probably not see another failure via this route.

Re:Should have had these waiting on the shelf (3, Insightful)

spike2131 (468840) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099764)

So they put all their faith in a blowout valve that apparently had an unanticipated failure mode. That's not risk mitigation, that's as assumption that, since you don't recognize the risk, there is no risk.

One layer of protection here was far to thin. In Norway and Brazil they require that wells also have remote control shutoffs. That would have been another layer of protection.

Keeping extra domes around would have been another layer of protection - a relatively low cost "when all else fails" measure. Seems like they didn't do it because they had too much confidence that all else couldn't possibly fail.

They were wrong.

Re:Should have had these waiting on the shelf (2, Insightful)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099910)

They did. They had a blowout valve in place that was supposed to kill the oil flow. It failed. Not something that has ever happened before and not something that could have been predicted.

We could conduct offshore drilling for the next hundred years and probably not see another failure via this route.

If that's the only failsafe they had, that's a problem.

They were drilling at extraordinary depths, here, and they must've known that, if something catastrophic *did* happen, it would be exceptionally difficult to deal with. But instead of facing that fact and putting additional risk mitigation in place, they just assumed the risks were low enough that it wasn't worth the additional cost.

Really, this is a classic example of where government should be stepping in. In reality, as you say, the chances of something truly catastrophic happening are low enough that the cost of additional risk mitigation simply isn't justifiable from a cost-benefit perspective, and so it's incumbent upon the government to force them to take those additional steps.

Re:Should have had these waiting on the shelf (1)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099944)

"...nothing can possiblye go wrong"

A single point of failure with catastrophic results if it does fail sounds like something that needs a backup plan not "lalala it hasn't failed before lalalala I can't hear you Murphy".

Re:Should have had these waiting on the shelf (4, Insightful)

canajin56 (660655) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099744)

Risk mitigation implies you believe there is a legitimate risk, which scares voters, which scares politicians. And, after the fact, it's way easier to say "We had know way of knowing X could happen resulting in Y damages" than "We had a contingency plan in place, so X only resulted in Z damages". No matter how much smaller Z is than Y, people will hate you more for it. Because you knew it could happen, therefore, you LET it happen, you are a villain! But if you were "caught totally unawares", you're the victim. Hell, you're the hero if you even slightly mitigate the damages.

Starting to see things differently (1, Troll)

abbynormal brain (1637419) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099612)

and it's making me more ill from reading "shock" stories. Man-made messes are never good, but in popular media - we never compare those events to what happens naturally. Natural oil and gas seepage has been occurring for as long as those items have been available. It's even been noted in recorded history. We also seem to forget that oil, tar, and natural gas are ... well ... natural. There are many natural and deadly events - earthquakes, mudslides, lava, etc.

Then the violin starts on how oil spills kill birds ... again, don't get me wrong. I'm not in denial. Yes - oil spills kill birds. But my rant is about the lack of perspective.Oil spills is near the bottom of most lists (Here's one list: http://www.currykerlinger.com/birds.htm [currykerlinger.com] ). The estimate is 1-2 million die from this cause. What I didn't know is that glass windows (100-900 million) and cats (100 million) dominate the top half of the list. I don't see the bleeding hearts going off on a rampage to ban windows.

I understand that stories like this are focused. I understand that broadening the perspective may "water down" an issue or a solution to an issue ... but leaving out perspective is just a damned bad habit - and sloppy too.

Re:Starting to see things differently (5, Insightful)

rotide (1015173) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099992)

There is a big difference between 1-2 million birds dying in one geographic location over a short amount of time versus hundreds of millions spread relatively evenly across the globe. It also doesn't stop at birds. Crabs, clams, crawfish, fish, etc, etc.

Roughly a quarter million people die each day [answers.com] . That doesn't mean that wiping out the population of Buffalo NY [wikipedia.org] every now and again is "ok". It would simply devastate the area (for other humans who live around there, etc.. probably good for the environment tho...).

I know this stuff happens naturally and I get that. Natural disasters have more or less hit the "reset" button on the planet a few times. But going out and causing it (intended or not) is stupid and entirely preventable. Just because an asteroid or another event pretty much wiped out life on the planet in the past doesn't mean that killing/poisoning large quantities of life now, no matter how small in comparison, is a-ok!

The question is (0, Redundant)

OMFG it's Rici (1564141) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099648)

Will it blend?

Is that a giant concrete dome? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32099662)

Or yo Mama.

At least it's cheaper than going nuclear! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32099822)

Nope, no way this could possibly be more economically and environmentally damaging than working on switching our infrastructure from fossil fuel to nuclear.

Alternatives? I'd like to see them tried... (2, Insightful)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099908)

Let us assume for a moment that the USA is pushing the world towards a climate catastrophe at an ever-increasing pace. Millions of people will die if nothing is done to stop this. We are getting ever closer to some "tipping point" where doing anything will be impossible and we just get to stay on the ride until the very end.

Sounds dire, right?

OK, so now we have this oil well accident that some want to call an ecological disaster of unimaginable proprotions. That this accident illustrates how incredibly stupid it is to drill for oil, and even worse to do so in some ecologically sensitive area.

Fine. Let's stop. How about if we give people a chance here to explore alternatives. We should stop all oil imports, all oil refining and just say it is over. The Oil Age has ended. This sort of alternative action would actually do something and be quite different than a lot of hand-wringing and people protesting without any real effect. Sure, there would be some immediate impact and people would die - perhaps fewer than are killed each day on highways.

I'd say after six months of this we might be able to carry on an intelligent debate on the real issues. Right now, I'm not seeing a lot of that. There is plenty of hand-wringing and plenty of pontificating on how bad things might be in the future.

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