One of the solutions that was batted around for a solution to the Deepwater Horizon crisis in the gulf is to detonate a Nuclear Device to seal the well. What the explosion would accomplish is to heat and seal the wellhead by turning the ocean floor into a magma which would then cool. With evidence suggesting that the ocean floor may be cracking around the wellhead such a solution may be needed.
Would a conventional explosion be possible? I am not sure if the conventional explosives would work at that depth. Its untried. However, there has been a nuclear test at that depth and it was successful. On 14 May 1955, a 30 Kiloton Nuclear Device (which was a Nuclear Depth Charge designated Mark 90 Betty) was detonated 500 miles SW of San Diego at a depth of 2000 feet. The result was this:
The explosion released no radioactivity to the atmosphere.
There are two things standing in the way of using this and even I am not sure if it is wise.
One: Such an explosion is banned by the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (signed in 1963) which bans explosions above the surface of the earth, in Space, and underwater. However, there is a Peaceful Nuclear Explosions Treaty which was signed in 1976 and entered into force in 1990. An explosion of this nature would be covered by this treaty.
Two: Such a use of Nuclear weapons would give justification for other states (specifically Iran) to develop nuclear weapons for so-called "peaceful" purposes.
Nuclear weapons have been used to carve out harbors by the Soviet Union. A similar project by the United States (Operation Plowshare/Project Chariot) was canceled due to concerns about radioactive fallout and its dubious purpose in creating a harbor in Alaska where none was needed. Various proposals for peaceful uses of Nuclear weapons include: Creating a second Panama Canal, bringing water to the Qattara Depression in Egypt, and last but not least Project Orion which would have used Nuclear bombs to propel a huge spacecraft into orbit and then journey throughout the solar system (not to be confused with the Orion capsule project which was part of the recently canceled Project Constellation).
Nuclear Weapons have been contemplated for peaceful purposes, but the after effects are what have rendered any application of them as dubious. If however, this disaster cannot be controlled by the relief wells which are contemplated to be completed by August (for the first one) such a use may be contemplated. Sea life has already been decimated by the oil so an argument can be made that its use would do no more harm to said life. Our leaders will have to weigh the pros and cons of such use before contemplating it.
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