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Quantifying, and Dealing With, the Deepwater Spill

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the nothing-nice-to-say-so-speak-up dept.

Earth 343

Gooseygoose writes with a link to this analysis by Boston University professor Cutler Cleveland. "Some reports in the media attempt to downplay the significance of the release of oil from the Deepwater Horizon accident by arguing that natural oil seeps release large volumes of oil to the ocean, so why worry? Let's look at the numbers." Read on for a few more stories on the topic of the Deepwater Horizon spill.theodp writes with some information on the remote-controlled efforts to stanch the oil's flow: "The work Tito Collasius does sounds a little like science fiction: Men on ships flicking joysticks that control robots the size of trucks as they rove miles beneath the sea in near-freezing depths no man could hope to reach. But BP's spill efforts rest in the hands of underwater remote-operated vehicle (ROV) pilots, who 'fly' the ROVs from command centers aboard ships, joysticks in hand and large banks of screens in front of them offering a view of the challenges they confront in the waters below. ROVs are typically used for commercial (as in the oil industry), oceanographic (science research and exploration), and military (mine reconnaissance and recovery) missions. If you're interested in joining Tito, training's available." Even if BP were to effect a perfect block for the oil, though, there's still quite a bit of it swirling in the Gulf — you've probably seen some gut-wrenching pictures of the affected wildlife. Reader grrlscientist writes "Some people claim that we should euthanize all oiled birds immediately upon recovering them. But I argue it is our ethical responsibility to protect, clean, and save these birds, even after they've been oiled, just as we should preserve and clean their habitats."

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oildrank (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32472362)

i drank oil and im fine wat problem?

Re:oildrank (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32472380)

you'll find out soon enough

Re:oildrank (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32472414)

drink more!

Don't try and blow it up (0)

hack slash (1064002) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472386)

it may never burn out, like this fire that has been burning for 35+ years: The Door to Hell [youtube.com]

Re:Don't try and blow it up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32472470)

No, no. Nuclear bombs will fix the leak. Don't worry. We will use advanced Soviet technology.

Re:Don't try and blow it up (2, Informative)

vlueboy (1799360) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472496)

it may never burn out, like this fire that has been burning for 35+ years: The Door to Hell [youtube.com]

We also have the Centralia mine fire [roadsideamerica.com] , going since 1961 in Pennsylvania, US (39 years.)

With the possibility of more of this stuff happening (see the Guatemalan sinkholes trying to swallow buildings into huge underground caverns), I'm beginning to see a problem. If something happens in your town but I can't leave relocate for financial reasons, like the bad economy plaging us and how hard it is to find cheap housing or sell/buy another house, there could be a "calculated risk but I must live here anyway" trend as our environment breaks down all around.

Re:Don't try and blow it up (1)

vlueboy (1799360) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472518)

Apologies on the sucky grammar on my parent post. I also couldn't hyperlink properly to slashdot's sinkhole story [slashdot.org] --or whatever they're calling the process that eats the limestone ground from underneath poorly chosen sites.

Re:Don't try and blow it up (2, Informative)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472744)

From what I understood the difference is that the limestone eating away process is a chemical thing. Water is dissolving the limestone. The Guatemala thing is more of a physical process, water is washing away the volcanic ash on which the city is built.

Re:Don't try and blow it up (2, Informative)

rfuilrez (1213562) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472782)

2010 - 1961 = 49 years there buddy.

Re:Don't try and blow it up (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472796)

Not that I recommend blowing it up, mind you, but isn't there a lot of water in the Gulf of Mexico which will serve to starve it of oxygen? (and steal heat, and such).

I was under the impression the risks of trying to blow it up with an explosion were more along the lines of "it's still leaking a bunch, and the hole is much messier now and even harder to cap."

Re:Don't try and blow it up (4, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472962)

Don't try and blow it up it may never burn out, like this fire that has been burning for 35+ years: The Door to Hell

Hint #1: Oil/NG needs oxygen to burn.
Hint #2: There is a serious lack of free oxygen 5,000 ft underwater.

I'm pretty sure we don't have to worry about an underwater wellhead catching fire and never burning out.

All natural (5, Funny)

Veggiesama (1203068) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472394)

See? The oil spill is all natural. Nothing to see here, folks. The catastrophe was all in your minds. You can go back to driving SUVs, voting Republican, and burning rubber tires for fun again.

Re:All natural (0)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472494)

See? The oil spill is all natural...

What's the problem? It is! This stuff is leaking out of the EARTH, with no factory processing, it's just, you know, leaking... All Natural (TM) oil. Just the Earth "doing it's thing".

Re: All natural (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472560)

What's the problem? It is! This stuff is leaking out of the EARTH, with no factory processing, it's just, you know, leaking... All Natural (TM) oil. Just the Earth "doing it's thing".

Maybe you should click the "look at the numbers" link near the top of the article.

Also, I'm starting to hear estimates that the actual rate of leakage may be over twice the worse-case line on the plot at that link.

The actual amount leaked will be argued in court for decades, since one class of penalty is based on that amount. BP has a strong economic incentive to make people think there's less of it than there actually is.

Re: All natural (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472648)

It doesn't really matter. BP is protected by law that their liability is capped at I believe $75 million (though that might not be right, its hard to find an actual copy of the bill), yeah, they are thinking about retroactively eliminating it, but really, other than PR blows, BP can easily pay for that $75 million out of their $16 billion of profits last year.

Re: All natural (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32472848)

And what if they are forced to pay $50 billion?

Re: All natural (0, Troll)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472908)

If they are forced to pay $50 billion, they got screwed by the government.

You can't change the rules while the game is in progress. No matter how much we like to hate BP, you have to realize they were just playing the game as it was presented by the US government. I think we can all agree that the liability caps were a stupid, stupid idea by now and if we retroactively enforce them, we essentially give the government to take down whatever business they don't really like.

Should BP pay for the spill? Absolutely, but we missed our chance in 1990, it is simply unfair to change the rules of a game in progress.

Re: All natural (1)

The Hatchet (1766306) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472666)

twice the figure given? Thats BPs "we are sorry for lying, here is the real estimate" number, which is still not that great. Some experts were saying between 50k and 100k barrels a day. Worst case scenario there is really, really bad. Plus, you don't exactly see giant plumes of oil covering parts of the gulf naturally, that leaking is likely slow and spread over great areas, causing no negative impacts, not a fricken volcano of black death.

Re:All natural (3, Interesting)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472500)

I first heard this line of reasoning on Fox News and my first reaction was "scale, people." What's funny is that our local Fox affiliate [myfoxla.com] keeps sending reporters up to the beaches of Santa Barbara where there's a fairly large natural oil seep as if to say, "See? It's no big deal..."

Re:All natural (3, Interesting)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472676)

The reasons we are probably seeing things like this is to undo or mitigate the damage to the coastal tourism that is already being seen in the gulf area as a reaction to the spill. This will go more common as more and more industries away from the spill are hit with less and less business from the consumers on the beaches.

This will hit hard around election time if something can't be done to curb the expected negative growth in the economy caused by this. Expect the idea to get really popular in the next couple months.

Re:All natural (4, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472748)

It's not THAT hard to understand if anyone tries to present it. Quick, everyone in the world drip one drop of oil wherever they may be. Tiny problem, no big deal.

Now, drip 6 billion drops of oil where you're standing right now (about 300,000 Liters) and see how much trouble it is!

Re:All natural (-1, Offtopic)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472630)

Wouldn't it be a funnier joke to say vote for Obama again seeing how his superior executive response has been to let BP fumble around forever? I mean you can sum up his entire governmental involvement/reaction to this spill as "act angry in front of camera's, assemble scientists to talk about what BP is doing, and stay out of BP's way". It would appear that if anyone is saying "the catastrophe was all in your minds", it would be obama. At least Bush sat on a tarmac for hours on end- pushing meetings and appointments back- waiting for the governor of Louisianan to sign documents making federal action/involvement in Katrina legal. The feds already have jurisdiction here and even less is being done.

I sure if they say it enough... (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472402)

...Those people of the effected gulf states will begin to believe it...

Maybe the media can even convince themselves they errored telling everyone its the worse ecological disaster in US history.

Lots of oil and gas are still leaking into the gulf, and the 6000 barrels being captured is not enough especially when you add it to the supposed natural leakage.....

Re:I sure if they say it enough... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32472484)

Lots of oil and gas are still leaking into the gulf, and the 6000 barrels being captured is not enough especially when you add it to the supposed natural leakage.....

Well whatever amount they've managing to recover through the cap is what it is. They may be able to capture some more but they've got to be careful trying to do so. They're supposedly working on supplementing their draw by using the mud injection lines to take additional oil out of the BOP which will increase their capture rate somewhat. If that's the best they can do until the relief wells are completed then we'll just have to live with it.

It is almost a mile underwater you know and does complicate things greatly.

What do you expect BP to do to control the leak beyond what they're already doing? Comb the world for a little boy who can wish the leak into the cornfield?

Re:I sure if they say it enough... (2, Funny)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472670)

Build a jig that would attach to the pipe below the flange. Push a tapered brass finger into the open end of the pipe with hydraulics. If the taper is right, it would not require huge pressure.
Call it "Dutch Boy."

Re:I sure if they say it enough... (4, Informative)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472720)

OK, all you armchair generals and Monday morning drilling engineers:

Before you post your wonderfully insightful method for stopping the spill, read up on the several thousand other suggestions here [theoildrum.com] .

The rest of you just read the various threads anyway. More signal to noise than anything I've seen so far. Even think of donating to help the servers keep afloat.

Re:I sure if they say it enough... (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472768)

Actually, it wouldn't be that hard to do something like that. I'm not sure what the pressure is on the pipe that's busted, or the exact outside diameter of it but it wouldn't be that hard to design a compression fitting in two or three pieces that could be automatically or semi autonomously assembled on the sea floor.

Re: I sure if they say it enough... (1, Troll)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472542)

...Those people of the effected gulf states will begin to believe it...

BP and some of our corporate-owned politicians are doing everything they can to keep people from believing there's any problem. BP has reportedly bought $50,000,000 of media outlets for maintaining their image. Also, reportedly, local police are turning photographers away from places where there's coated wildlife to be seen, and saying that they're doing it at BP's behest. (Since when did your local cops work for a corporation?)

Governor Haley Barber is skipping meetings about the problem and telling the media, "Come on in, the water's fine", comparing it to the light film of gasoline you sometimes see behind a motorboat when you get into the water to ski.

Re: I sure if they say it enough... (0, Troll)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472626)

all of our politicians are corporate owned. Its just a few of them -cough- democrats -cough- are owned by "green" businesses who want BP, a competitor, out of business and so they are raising more of a panic than others.

And why does it surprise you that cops are working for corporations? The majority of them are uneducated, ignorant, abusive thugs. They want their tax increases to get more money and higher pay increases. If they can get some corporations behind the tax increases, they have a higher chance of passing.

Re:I sure if they say it enough... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32472704)

Those people of the effected gulf states will begin to believe it.

That's affected, you twit.

BP executive "hoodies" (0, Troll)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472420)

Unfortunately, the BP execs seem to be replicating the behavior of so the called "hoodies" ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoodies [wikipedia.org] ) from England.

Tough luck for the folks in the Gulf . . .

And tough shit for any stockholders in BP . . .

Re:BP executive "hoodies" (1)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472678)

Tough luck for the folks in the Gulf . . .

And tough shit for any stockholders in BP . . .

Tough luck for the seafood industry. The price of seafood will go through the roof, where it is available.
This is also incentive for Japan to increase whale and dolphin hunting quotas. Since America doesn't give a damn about the oceans, why should they.

Yeah, right. (0, Troll)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472444)

I also think there is tremendous value in showing people the true costs of our oil dependence, so hopefully, society will begin realize that some risks are simply too great to support in our endless quest to satisfy this dependence.

People value their big cars, big homes, energy guzzling electronics and expect other people to solve the problem or they just don't give a shit. As far as some people are concerned, fuck the birds! We need to make way for "progress"! Or God put us here to do what we want!

People are cruel, shallow, and small minded.

All a misanthrope needs to do is sit back with a beer and watch humanity destroy themselves with their shallowness and stupidity.

Re:Yeah, right. (4, Insightful)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472476)

People are cruel, shallow, and small minded.

All of us are some of the time.

All a misanthrope needs to do is sit back with a beer and watch humanity destroy themselves with their shallowness and stupidity.

Stupidity often burns me out too, but if we just sit back and do nothing we will run out of beer (and food, and clean air, etc.) and suffer greatly long before the end. So heave a sigh, shed a bitter tear, and roll up your sleeves for another tortuous round of cleanup and rebuild.

Silver Lining? (-1, Troll)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472448)

Maybe this is the final push we need to actually invest money as a notion in alternative energy?

Or not... if the right wing [facebook.com] gets involved.

Re:Silver Lining? (0, Offtopic)

greentshirt (1308037) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472510)

Mod parent naïve. By the way, how come it's been a long, long time since I received any mod points? Does the system stop giving them out once a user has been sufficiently contaminated by, err exposed to, slashdot?

Re:Silver Lining? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32472746)

Karma isn't the only determining factor in doling out mod points. How often you post is also considered. A regular poster with good karma will receive points more often than a sporadic poster with the same relative karma. Makes sense to me.

Re:Silver Lining? (4, Funny)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472910)

Believe it or not, I actually used to receive lots of mod points back in the day when I meta-modded(correctly) everyday, made every post a high-scoring one, and didn't post anything offensive.

Then CmdrTaco posted something like "testing, testing" in the seemingly redundant beta.slashdot.org introductory discussion. When I saw that he was already modded "troll", I followed suit and modded him troll for laughs. For mysterious reasons, the discussion no longer exists.

I never got mod points after that.

Re: Silver Lining? (2, Interesting)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472622)

Maybe this is the final push we need to actually invest money as a notion in alternative energy?

Or not... if the right wing gets involved.

Don't confuse the "rich wing" with the "right wing". The vast majority of Republican politicians just want to rule for the benefit of the rich. The whole social-conservative / southern strategy / religious right association is just a mechanism to get people to vote against their own best interests. If you admit you want to rule for the rich, you've got a big problem in a Republic with universal suffrage, since the rich are by definition a tiny fraction of the public. But politicians know that if you can make someone's knee jerk, you can make their hand twitch in a voting booth. So the Republican party cynically adopted positions that appeal to those groups, and occasionally throws them a bone to keep their support.

But in the run-up to the 2006 elections, the leaders of various socially conservative movements were complaining aloud that they were bringing a lot of votes to the table and not getting much in return... the only surprise is that it took them 26 years to notice.

Of course, by now that has been going on so long that the insane are starting to run the asylum. It's a pretty sure bet that Haley Barber is just shilling for the energy companies, but it's hard to tell whether the likes of Sarah Palin and Barbara Bachman are just trying to make people's knees jerk, or if they've actually drunk the Kool-Aide. Palin is so consistently behind Big Money issues that I suspect she's mostly just shilling, but you never know... As they say, you can't parody this stuff.

Heh, (5, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472454)

Reader grrlscientist writes...it is our ethical responsibility to protect, clean and save these birds, even after they've been oiled, just as we should preserve and clean their habitats

I love it. The BP executives should themselves be forced to help clean birds and other wildlife. It's the grown-up equivalent of writing "I will not pollute the ocean" ten million times on the blackboard.

Re:Heh, (3, Insightful)

caseih (160668) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472694)

But of course we all share the blame for this disaster. The root cause, after all, is our collective demand that BP drill for oil and sell it to us. Of course it's likely there were specific things that specific individuals did or did not do that precipitated this disaster, and yes they will have pay for their errors. But I worry about vilifying BP too much. It is almost as if we're trying to assuage our own consciences by mistakenly thinking that if we can just get BP to take the blame then everything will be alright and we can keep on living the consumption lifestyle.

Re:Heh, (3, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472772)

No, the root cause was that the government decided to put liability caps in the 1990s on oil drilling thus allowing BP to take a gamble and not have to worry about any real liability. There are safe ways to drill, the other oil platforms that aren't gushing barrels of oil left and right into the ocean are proof of that.

We can place the root of the blame on our congress for failing to allow for the free market to have prevented this.

Re:Heh, (5, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472840)

I don't remember ever asking BP to drill for oil. I don't remember ever asking anyone to drill in an unsafe manner. No, BP has to take the blame for this themselves. They tried to take a short-cut and failed. There are plenty of other oil rigs that are chugging away just fine.

Re:Heh, (1)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472886)

Maybe after watching all the birds they cleaned die from ingested oil, they'll feel some pang of guilt for all the lives and livelihoods they destroyed.

Maybe... but probably not. Probably would suggest they're just pining for the fjords.

The Usual Suspects (5, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472466)

Slashdotters are better than the general public at understanding that this BP rupture's quantity of spewing oil is very serious and damaging, even where it isn't obvious on Gulf Coast beaches.

So you should look at who is downplaying it. And then remember next time they tell you something how seriously low their credibility is. That they cannot be trusted. Their usual lying isn't usually as obvious as it is here.

Re:The Usual Suspects (5, Insightful)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472576)

So you should look at who is downplaying it. And then remember next time they tell you something how seriously low their credibility is. That they cannot be trusted. Their usual lying isn't usually as obvious as it is here.

Let's start with all the D.C. politicians who conveniently remain quiet. Why? I hear more clamoring from the governors of the states being affected than from the voter elected senators and representatives. Why?
How many of the voter elected politicians are on the oil industry payroll? Why? What happened to safety administrator who abruptly "retired" when this whole fiasco blew up (no pun intended). How many oil executives and oil lobby politicians switch roles when things get dicey?
If there ever was a call to separate Business and State, this is it.

Re:The Usual Suspects (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32472870)

For insight TOD is pretty good because there is less initial snark for every new topic that comes up. TheOilDrum commenters always seem so dead serious about technical topics.

The Exon Valdez (4, Insightful)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472468)

Take a look at the site of the Exon spill in Alaska. Although it has been about 30 years the beaches are still a total wreck and the area still can not be fished.
              Coral reefs may be the worst injuries as they kill easily and may take hundreds of years to rekindle. It is obvious that financially damaged parties will continue to be damaged for decades.
              And the large view is even worse. Human population is exploding and we are now absolutely confronted with the fact that oil driven technologies are a horror story. And we are jumping to adopt newer technologies with no way to estimate the great harm that they may generate. After all, only the lunatic fringe believed that oil driven advances were aproblem until the 1970 era.

Re: The Exon Valdez (0, Flamebait)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472502)

And the large view is even worse. Human population is exploding and we are now absolutely confronted with the fact that oil driven technologies are a horror story. And we are jumping to adopt newer technologies with no way to estimate the great harm that they may generate. After all, only the lunatic fringe believed that oil driven advances were aproblem until the 1970 era.

My God, maybe we should just all kill ourselves now! And never try anything new on the off chance that it might prove harmful in some way in the future. Who gives a crap if half the world's population starves to death while we determine a perfectly safe energy technology?

         

Re: The Exon Valdez (5, Insightful)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472872)

No, NOT stop everything until it's all perfect but how about not being cheap fucks and skimping on safety?!

So far we've heard that BP was pushing for a faster and faster schedule, using only two plugs instead of three, forgoing a final check on the cement, and (think this might have been Transocean) ignoring CLEAR FUCKING EVIDENCE that the seal of the BOP was damaged (clear as in chunks of in the hands of workers that they brought to the manager).

Oh, and stuff like the BOP had low batteries and one of the redundant systems was shot.

And fuck MMS for being a bunch of corporate whores and letting BP FILL OUT THE INSPECTION REPORTS. WHAT. THE. FUCK. IS WRONG WITH THESE ASSHOLES?

That's the problem and THAT is what makes me so furious. Maybe we need more regulation. Maybe we don't. It's kinda hard to tell when it appears that absolutely NONE of it was followed.

I can only wish that some asses get nailed to the wall over this.

Re: The Exon Valdez (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32472512)

There's one big difference:

The Valdez was carrying heavy crude. What's leaking in the Gulf is called "light sweet" crude. It's a mess, but it doesn't hang around nearly as long.

Re: The Exon Valdez (4, Informative)

Rei (128717) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472592)

The heavy fraction does stick around.

Some fishing has recovered at Valdez; others haven't. There is no exposed oil, but there is buried oil. Burial slows degradation.

A good lesson can come from natural seeps. Life isn't adapted to intense releases of oil concentrated in a given location. It is adapted to oil coming into an ecosystem in small quantities. Hence, the oil will be devastating to the Mississippi River Delta, and to a lesser extent, regions adjacent (if winds and currents hit it just right, it could cause some problems in the Keys as well). But at the same time, the talk of heavy oil slicks covering the US east coast, or even more extreme, turning all of the world's oceans to poison (yes, I've heard people make that claim) are pure hyperbole.

If the Mississippi River Delta responds in the same way that the BOC responded to Ixtoc 1, it could be largely back to normal in two years. But there are definitely differences this time (namely, the depth, the extensive use of dispersants, and the low-oxygen waters of the delta). How that will change the picture, who knows. I suspect they'll slow the recovery.

Re: The Exon Valdez (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472588)

The PolyagmousRanchMom, told me that the PolygamousRanchBrotherInLaw knows how to stop that oil well.

Ok, he is a Phd in nuclear chemistry, and works for ExxonMobil. And earns his bread through patents. So this solution to the problem we will see . . . when ExxonMobil has their next accident . . .

The PolygamousRanchSister said . . . stay tuned . . .

GNAA cock size comparison (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32472488)

So I was thinking, it's generally thought that black men have larger cocks.

And it has been shown [salon.com] that gay men have larger cocks.

So, it follows that black gay men have the largest cocks of all.

So since the GNAA is an organization that caters to gay black men (ok, niggers), why not conduct a study of the GNAA membership to see just how much larger their cocks are?

Any members of the GNAA, please submit a large clear photo of your erect penis to gnaacockstudy@medresearch.com for consideration.
 

Blowout preventer failsafes (1)

olsmeister (1488789) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472492)

Rather than relying on electrical or mechanical activation of the blowout preventer (which failed to occur), why can't they be made so that they activate automatically with the loss of an electrical signal?

I guess you might get some unwanted activations, but it might have saved their bacon with something like this.

Re:Blowout preventer failsafes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32472540)

It is no bigger engineering challenge than building a rig that drills miles deep to begin with. What do you think the purpose of having it electronically (remotely) controlled is?

Re:Blowout preventer failsafes (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32472570)

why can't they be made so that they activate automatically with the loss of an electrical signal?

They can and are, and this one was. Additionally, some can be remotely triggered by, in essence, sonar pings at a certain frequency. I've read conflicting reports on whether this particular BOP had that capability. None of this really matters, because the crew on the rig hit the button to trigger the ram shears while they still had contact to the BOP and they didn't activate, at least not completely.

Re:Blowout preventer failsafes (3, Informative)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472806)

My understanding is that a rubber bushing essential to the operation of the BOP was damaged a few days before during a test of it (or something related) and this damage contributed to the massive failure of the BOP.

Re:Blowout preventer failsafes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32472858)

The Backup had been modified. And One of the batteries was dead. Maybe they should start with not installing know bad equipment.

Re:Blowout preventer failsafes (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472948)

There are failsafes and they may have activated. Remember that not even the ROVs could activate the BOP. The hydraulics are broken or stuck.
What they should have is a shaped charge of explosives that can pinch the well bore shut. No hydraulics, just a very primitive electric ignition system needed.

Sticks around for decades (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32472498)

Apparently there are still many places which are full of oil from the Exxon Valdez disaster even 20 years after it happened. The cleanup was mostly superficial and there's a lot of oil in the ground. The ecosystem hasn't recovered yet, although it isn't dead either.

The Deepwater Horizon spill will also leave a lot of areas poisoned for many decades to come, and it will probably be worse in quality and quantity because there's more oil and it happened in a more habitated area.

Re:Sticks around for decades (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472578)

But the Valdez was carrying very heavy oil. The gulf oil spill now is lighter oil.

Re:Sticks around for decades (1)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472594)

Try a century or more.

It's no surprise there's muck to rake up (2, Insightful)

hoytak (1148181) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472524)

See, for example: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/green/detail?entry_id=64864 [sfgate.com] or http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/2010/06/02/2010-06-02_the_hidden_death_in_the_gulf.html [nydailynews.com]

I am sure BP is doing everything it can to stop the oil gushing out, despite what all the (sometimes idiotic, very amusing) armchair engineers are saying is the "obvious" thing to do.

However, it seems the real battle that will have the greatest impact on the future of this is over who controls the media now, and that's where BP needs to get its hands tied.

Re: It's no surprise there's muck to rake up (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472646)

I am sure BP is doing everything it can to stop the oil gushing out, despite what all the (sometimes idiotic, very amusing) armchair engineers are saying is the "obvious" thing to do.

However, it seems the real battle that will have the greatest impact on the future of this is over who controls the media now, and that's where BP needs to get its hands tied.

BP does have a big incentive to get the leak stopped, since some damage awards will be proportional to the amount of oil leaked.

Of course, they have the same incentive to make potential jurors think there's less leak than their actually is, and this intervention may be cheaper than intervention at the well head.

The Shaka Plan (2, Interesting)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472544)

That's why we need the Shaka Plan for Energy:
1) Replace all coal power plants with nuclear
2) Replace all gasoline imports with coal gassification

Cost-neutral on the price of electricity, price of gasoline at the pump will go down, the influential senators from coal states are happy, and no more funding terrorism in the middle east.

Re:The Shaka Plan (1)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472616)

"Cost-neutral on the price of electricity, price of gasoline at the pump will go down, the influential senators from coal states are happy, and no more funding terrorism in the middle east."

I've seen worse plans. It's definitely realistic about politics. #3 and #4 are good points, but [citation needed] on points #1 and #2.

Re:The Shaka Plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32472686)

1) Replace all coal power plants with nuclear

While I will not raise any ideological arguments here, the sheer cost of this would be mindblowing. As in, nobody has that kind of money, not even the government.

Re:The Shaka Plan (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472712)

It's more likely that the United States will continue their Middle-Eastern encroachment with attempts at culture transformation, nation-building, and the acquiring of resources. Iraqis and other Arabs will not protest the wholesale theft of their oil while they are watching Arabian Idol, being so engorged on McDonalds and KFC that they can barely get out of their suffahs.

It'll be a "win-win" situation -- Muslim culture becomes more modern and liberal as women and homosexuals gradually gain rights. The CIA can take over the lucrative Afghani opium trade, the United States and allies will reap the obvious benefits of having more oil, and the military will have a strategic entrenchment next to the big commie countries in case the global economic battles get ugly.

But why all that trouble when we could just do what you said? Because there are a lot of people with handsome salaries, windfalls, and bribes that are directly proportional to the success of the American military industrial complex.

Re:The Shaka Plan (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32472938)

How will that stop $10B US military aid to Israel though? You probably need to stop giving them weapons to stop their terrorism.

What? (1)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472964)

Why do you think replacing one form of finite energy with dangerous byproducts is superior to another form of finite energy with dangerous byproducts?

Nuclear can be a useful bridge, but we need to learn how to deal with the limitations of the energy that the sun provides on a daily basis, or harness the thermal energy of the Earth's core. Everything else is ultimately unsustainable.

Raises the Question Where Does Oil Come From? (0, Troll)

Ron Bennett (14590) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472546)

Large-scale natural oil seeps, and more significantly, the extreme depths of many large oil reservoirs (upwards of three miles *below the ocean floor*) makes some, including myself, wonder where does all that oil really come from?

Sure, some oil is likely from long dead organisms, but how does one explain the vast amounts of oil that exists? Seems like there's far more oil than can be accounted for by dead organisms alone. And, more curious, is the large amounts of oil located so deep below the ocean floor ... How does one explain that?

Ron

No it doesn't Ron, stop distracting from the issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32472638)

stop being a dumbass

Re:Raises the Question Where Does Oil Come From? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32472652)

I c wut u did thar.

Re:Raises the Question Where Does Oil Come From? (4, Insightful)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472658)

from long dead organisms

You answered your own question. If you don't believe the answer the geologists give you, feel free to read up on petroleum geology, and do some basic back-of-the-envelope calculations yourself.

There are four ways to answer a question. From best to worst:

1) Figure it out yourself
2) Trust the experts
3) Proclaim it an unanswerable mystery
4) Make up something

You're one rung off the bottom. Climb on up!

Re:Raises the Question Where Does Oil Come From? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32472660)

I think you may underestimate the sheer volume of organisms that live and die during a multi-million year period...

Re:Raises the Question Where Does Oil Come From? (4, Funny)

tnok85 (1434319) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472696)

Isn't it obvious? The Gulf of Mexico is the site of an ancient volcano (roughly 75 million years old) where billions of organisms were deposited from spacecraft strongly resembling DC-8's, then nuked from orbit.

Re:Raises the Question Where Does Oil Come From? (4, Informative)

Eryq (313869) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472722)

Millions of years of dead plant and animal life, plus shifting tectonic plates (and ever-changing coastlines), can give rise to vast undersea reservoirs of oil. Even the oil industry geologists know it: how do you think they find these reservoirs? [mssu.edu]

But we all see what you're trying to do there. Hmm, maybe oil isn't from dead plant life after all! Maybe it occurs naturally in the Earth's crust, where God put it! Gosh, maybe there's a practically infinite supply! Maybe it's even naturally renewed! Why, that would mean that all this talk about needing to find alternate energy sources is just a load of hooey! Ha ha, those environmentalist whackos sure are stupid, just like Rush said!"

It's a story being advanced by people who either (1) have a vested interest in the continued profits of oil companies, (2) refuse to believe that the earth is more than 6000 years old, or (3) have a political axe to grind against environmentalists.

And at this point, I've pretty much lost my patience with all of those camps.

Re:Raises the Question Where Does Oil Come From? (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472884)

There have been scientific theories floating around for decades now that support to some degree, an idea that oil can be made naturally without the long process currently ascribed to it. And all this is done without the mentioning of a GOD or 6000 year earth history.

Get off your high horse, not everything suggesting that a process isn't (m)billions of years old as currently understood is some attempt to put god in your life. Not all of these people have a problem with environmentalist (outside of saying they are wrong about the time required to create oil), and not all of them work for oil interests. Of course you will find people pushing gods or claiming the earth is only 6000 years old saying see, it's possible, Of course you will see people making statements that environmentalists or whoever else claiming oil is finite are wrong just as you will find people making statements that the earth is older then 6000 years. And mostly, of course you will find people connected to oil companies making these statements. This is because people who study oil and geology relating to oil, tend to work in oil related industries. It's not guilt by association and maybe you should look past your shallow reservations before passing a judgment. This is science, not a religion.

Wow! (1)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472928)

Hey look! It's the aptly named troll of assertions!

Aww, isn't that cute... no, no, don't ask him to cite anything. He'll scurry away.

Re:Raises the Question Where Does Oil Come From? (4, Interesting)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472724)

Seems like there's far more oil than can be accounted for by dead organisms alone.

The total global biomass has been estimated to be 2000 billion tonnes with 1600 billion of those tonnes in forests.[13][14]

Net primary production is the rate at which biomass is generated in a given area, mainly due to photosynthesis. Some global producers of biomass in order of productivity rates are

        * swamps and marshes: 2,500 g/m/yr of biomass[15]
        * tropical rain forests: 2,000 g/m/yr of biomass[16]
        * algal beds and reefs: 2000 g/m/yr of biomass[15]
        * river estuaries: 1,800 g/m/yr of biomass[15]
        * temperate forests: 1,250 g/m/yr of biomass[15]
        * cultivated lands: 650 g/m/yr of biomass[15][17]
        * deserts: 3 g/m/yr of biomass[17]
        * open ocean: 125 g/m/yr of biomass[15][17]
        * tundras: 140 g/m/yr[15][17]

(Multiply by millions of years...)

Re:Raises the Question Where Does Oil Come From? (1)

DogFacedJo (949100) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472732)

Not certain what you intend by 'dead organisms', but all what is needed is biomass, e.g. swampy areas. As plates shift, some are driven under others resulting in carbon deposits easily being buried as deeply as we see. At one point it was likely very close to, if not on the surface. Bogs can be very large, and very deep... consider, well, the wetlands that are currently threatened, for example.

I'm not partial to the theories that there is arbitrary oil and coal to be found, provided we dig deep enough. If you are centrally located on a plate, and have deep enough to hit the granite or basalt, respectively - it would be shocking to hit anything else while digging until it is too hot to support the structures in oil and coal. Please contradict me, there are some oddball cases in the middle of plates and I would love to hear about more of them, and about them.

Quite frankly, a non-biological origin for deep oil is the only one folks bother argue, if I remember correctly. I suspect this is because coal contains lots of fossils, thus it is pretty hard to argue samples are non-biological.

Meh, not my specialty, feel free to enlighten me, etc...

Re:Raises the Question Where Does Oil Come From? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32472738)

I recall an article linked to on here a while ago where some of the results from the research done at our deepest shaft into the earth's crust showed that the conditions and compounds present lead to the spontaneous formations of hydrocarbons, so oil gas and coal might actually be a natural substance seeping up from the deep crust.

Re:Raises the Question Where Does Oil Come From? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472856)

There is some debate about oil, but coal is so clearly associated with ancient plant life I don't think anyone could really argue its origin is anything else.

Re:Raises the Question Where Does Oil Come From? (1)

werdnapk (706357) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472756)

Umm, hello? The oil was put there by God. How else do you explain it being there with the Earth being only 6000 years old?

Re:Raises the Question Where Does Oil Come From? (1)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472810)

I used to attend a private Presbyterian school, and one of my "science" teachers claimed that oil is shot out in high volume every time any sort of organic matter (plankton,dead whales, etc) touches thermal vents.

Obviously a load of horse shit, but so is the earth being 6k years old.

Re:Raises the Question Where Does Oil Come From? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32472764)

God. The Matrix? Or are you waiting for some theory about organic processes that don't involve life working away furiously in the earth's crust which doesn't have allot going on organic and only has the heat from earth as an energy source, creating all this oil? I'm going to place my bet on the system with tons of organic processes, and a large external energy source, the sun. I'm betting on the dead organisms.

Just to give you some perspective:
Civilization has been around for 10,000 years. Modern humans have been around for 100,000 years. Dinos were around for 100,000,000 plural years, which is the period of life from which most theorize this oil came from. And how long have we been using oil, like a couple hundred years? I think it is easy to under estimate how long those millions of years are compared to everything else we deal with in life.

Re:Raises the Question Where Does Oil Come From? (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472820)

Given millions of years, there are a LOT of organisms around. They came to be buried the same way everything else does over time. If we have to dig up a town a few thousand years old, why not a millions of years old pool?

Re:Raises the Question Where Does Oil Come From? (2, Informative)

mbradmoody (732860) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472894)

Ah, the a-biogenic theory of hydrocarbons raises its ugly head again. Chief proponent was Professor Thomas Gold (Cornell but r.i.p.). Pretty much discredited but check out research of Dr. Roger Anderson of LDEO and Larry Cathles at Cornell. they got a DOE grant to drill offshore at EI 330 Field to explore for deeper "plumbing" that might be recharging that 1 billion BOE deposit. No joy however.

bad article, bad! (2, Funny)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472608)

Just what is a "joy stick" and why would sailors be twiddling them?

Animal ethics? (1, Flamebait)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472644)

TFA (the last link) makes some reasonable points about why a blanket euthanization policy for all birds could be extreme. But then it goes too far and wants to save everything. From the conclusion:

Because all people use oil or oil-related products in some form, I maintain that it is both ethical and responsible to try to save as many oiled birds and other wildlife as we can. [...] I think that each life is intrinsically valuable and that each animal is deserving of care and protection. In a world where life is not always respected and valued, I think that saving the life of even one bird sends an important message.

Awww... you want to save the animals? Every life is sacred! Well, you can start by saving the life of the tapeworm that took up residence in your body, or perhaps that mosquito that just bit you and gave you malaria. What? You see a breeding ground for those disease-ridden mosquitoes and want to dump the water? Don't kill the larvae! Or what about the rats that infest your house and could potentially bring disease, particularly if they are allowed to multiple and run rampant in urban areas? You might think that trapping them humanely and releasing them is doing a good deed, but be sure you release them in a habitat where they can find enough food, or you're just contributing to their prolonged starvation as they die a horrible death. Better safe than sorry -- leave food out for them and keep them in your home.

Oh wait -- I bet TFA is just talking about cute animals that aren't annoying, disease-ridden, or parasitic to humans.

I'm against unnecessary cruelty to animals, but it simply doesn't make sense to try to save every possible bird here, from either a monetary or moral perspective. Those which can be relatively easily treated, sure. But the humane thing to do for birds who are unlikely to recover and who would be completely stressed out by prolonged contact with humans is to euthanize them. Just like the humane thing to do for many pets (and even humans) with a likely terminal condition is to stop forcing treatment on them and let them die.

Re:Animal ethics? (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472968)

One problem is that a significant percentage (can't remember the number) of birds die even after cleaning because they ingested oil or oily food.

Re:Animal ethics? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32472974)

> but it simply doesn't make sense to try to save every
> possible bird here,

What harm is there in trying?

> from either a monetary or moral perspective.

Oh, right, you're really just worried about the cost. Of course. But hey, if you add "or moral" in there, it makes it seem like you really thought this out and that you're not really just a greedy miser. You should (do?) work for BP, it's great thinking like yours that got them where they are now.

Sarah Palin knows the reason for the spill....phew (1, Insightful)

droopus (33472) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472674)

Well, Sarah has figured out the real reason [facebook.com] for the Gulf oil spill, and that reason is those of us who actually care about the environment.

No really, she's serious. We just need to let the oil companies drill unrestricted pretty much wherever and whenever they want, sans restictions and we wouldn't have these problems. Thank God we have a genius [nonstick.com] like Sarah to tell us unwashed slobs what the truth is.

That unrestricted oil drilling is safe, clean and green! [thescreamonline.com]

Re:Sarah Palin knows the reason for the spill....p (4, Interesting)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472960)

While Palin's pretty shamelessly rent-seeking (drill in Alaska? why, how convenient!) the idea that we've been avoiding one ecologically sensitive area (pristine Alaska wilderness) in favor of drilling in another, potentially more sensitive area which is also much much riskier to drill in (the Gulf) for whatever reason (perhaps it's easier for people to conceive of the former as wilderness-y?)... that part of her idea is not without merit. Regardless of our ultimate course of action, we should be sure that we are weighing the potential environmental impact a bit more dispassionately, and with an eye to overall impact - including the impact of the risks, so elusive and difficult to grasp until disaster strikes.

Absolutely correct (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472700)

Given time nature will readjust and reach a new equilibrium. Things like this happen occasionally in nature, and the earth has yet to be critically damaged. The nuclear industry often cites the example of an area where a natural nuclear disaster occurred. The earth has been hit with meteors and survived. It is not the earth or the creatures we are protected. It is us.

Even with no damage, Florida tourism is suffering. There is no real reason why we should care that people are going to lose their jobs, as long as gas is cheap, so that is not an issue. The fishermen have no more or less right to the fish in the gulf than the oil people have to the oil, and the fish might like time to breed, so if all the fisherpeople no longer have work, that is nothing to worry about. Everyone is whining about the loss of oysters, but of course those oysters and artificially placed, not part of the natural process, so that is not an issue.

Sure some people will whine that they have been doing this for generations, and that they have a right to take from nature and others don't, but that solves nothing. It would be nice i the government might have some regulation so that all interests could share these resources, but we live in a free market economy. In such a state, those interest that are most desired by the public, in this case oil, take precedence over other interests. Unless we accept a socialist state in which resources are divided equally by the state, that is the poor with one fishing boat gets the same access to the gulf as the rich with a billion dollar rig, thes situation will remain what it is.

Even if it was natural... (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472836)

...there would be at least as much reason to worry. There just wouldn't be any way to stop it.

Feeds from the ROVs (5, Insightful)

Auto_Lykos (1620681) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472878)

BP has been providing live feeds of all the ROV missions to the wellhead for the last few days. For those who are curious, here's a pretty decent site hosting all the feeds from the ROVs. [mxl.fi] Pretty fascinating to watch all the work going on around the BOP, occasionally you can follow a few of the ROVs as they wander off to find old pipelines or prepare the Q4000 direct connection. In a tragic way it almost feels like watching the Titanic discovery all over again.

Gulf of Mexico .. Dead! ... Humanity Next ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32472918)

NCAR simulation paints the simple truth. This spill will shut off the thermohaline circulation.

Bravo NP PLC! In your love to be the hand maiden of the British Govermnet, who Obama Pissed On at IPCC Copenhagen, your handy work will usher in the next Glaciation. An all because an American Nigger pissed on you white boys.

And with it, your own, not to mention the extension of Homo Sapains.

Bravo BP PLC, Bravo!

Seems that since you, BP PLC were so hell bent on suiside, that you would have opted for a much less costly solution to end yourselves, like for instance, curry pudding with cyanide.

Come on, the BP PLC CEO can buy a 38 special and ammo on the street with a little cocaine left-overs and kill himself in less than 30 senonds.

That would be Justice rendered.

so NIMBYs (5, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#32472926)

you won't have nuclear reactors with modern technology. france and japan have been relying on reactors for decades. but not in your backyard, no. you know, electric cars, less air pollution, no more funding of geopolitical nightmares, etc.

so instead you'll have thousands of acres of your shoreline turned into a befouled environmental calamity, you'll fund wahhabi madrasas in pakistan through all the money you're giving saudis to drive your SUVs, you'll send your sons, daughters, fathers, mothers to die in pointless wars, you'll fuel global warming, you'll make your cities unbreathable...

but remember, its nuclear power we should be afraid of

read NIMBY's, and reverse your idiotic mental block:

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

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

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