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Author Topic: Worst Environmental Disaster Ever?  (Read 15926 times)

bigaudioblowhard

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Worst Environmental Disaster Ever?
« on: May 12, 2010, 05:19:30 pm »

scroll down to the letter from the engineer, who suggests a nuke might be the only thing to stop this leak

http://thisistheendoftheworldasweknowit.com/archives/the-wor st-environmental-disaster-in-american-history-the-gulf-of-me xico-oil-spill

bab

ssltech

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Re: Worst Environmental Disaster Ever?
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2010, 05:53:02 pm »

There was a much more balanced program on npr last week where they soberly reviewed this (the nuke) and other options.

The last lines:

Quote:

We're humped. Unless God steps in and fixes this. No human can. You can be sure of that.



...mark it out as overly sensational writing as opposed to a sober assessment, to me.

Yes a nuke is indeed a considerable option and may have to be deployed, but it would take a LOT of setup; you don't just drop a bomb on it next week, for example.

In the meantime, several options are being deployed in parallel. -Everyone involved knows that we can't afford to try the options consecutively, they MUST be deployed concurrently, because of the likelihood that so many will not work.

EVENTUALLY, this can be capped/shut off. The problem is the TIME it will take and the damage done in that time... with hurricane season starting in about 3 weeks.

There's a lot which I never knew about how those rigs/platforms even 'STAND' there... Fact is, they DON'T stand there like the North Sea oil rigs with which I'm more familiar: apparently they FLOAT.

The sea bed at that point is apparently too deep in that location for it to stand on solid 'legs', so -as I understand it- they basically used a 'GPS system and some gyros' to keep it constantly within a couple of feet, using engines to 'drive' it to its correct position at all times, and the gyros keep it oriented correctly.

So instead of a long pipe or drill bit between three or four legs, you have a long pipe or drill bit... going between a fixed point on the sea floor and a notionally fixed point on the surface...

So when the "shin hits the fat" and the platform catches fire/explodes, you end up with a pipe or drill bit being stressed/stretched by the collapsing/burning/exploding platform.

...Which raises another issue: -What backup plans are in place to protect OTHER platforms which may be similarly arranged, in case some enemy in some future war manages to disable the GPS system... either by cyber-attack/uplink, or by 'star-wars' military-style attack?

Without a backup system -assuming my information about how this is done is correct- ANY other rigs using a similar situational positioning system would immediately be at great risk.

Keith
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MDM (maxdimario) wrote on Fri, 16 November 2007 21:36

I have the feeling that I have more experience in my little finger than you do in your whole body about audio electronics..

arconaut

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Re: Worst Environmental Disaster Ever?
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2010, 07:52:22 pm »

I understand that this person is proposing closing off the opening with an explosive - but why would it have to be a nuclear device? Because nothing else is powerful enough?
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YZ

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Re: Worst Environmental Disaster Ever?
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2010, 08:44:34 pm »

arconaut wrote on Wed, 12 May 2010 20:52

I understand that this person is proposing closing off the opening with an explosive - but why would it have to be a nuclear device? Because nothing else is powerful enough?


Personally, I think said person is full of ...  debris.

I'd believe such statements if they were made by an identified specialist, but an anonymous "internet engineer"...

what is this, oilrigslutz?  Smile
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YZ

ssltech

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Re: Worst Environmental Disaster Ever?
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2010, 09:10:29 pm »

Here's a well-written partial account giving the basics:

Quote:

The rig belongs to Transocean, the world’s biggest offshore drilling contractor. The rig was originally contracted through the year 2013 to BP and was working on BP’s Macondo exploration well when the fire broke out. The rig costs about $500,000 per day to contract. The full drilling spread, with helicopters and support vessels and other services, will cost closer to $1,000,000 per day to operate in the course of drilling for oil and gas. The rig cost about $350,000,000 to build in 2001 and would cost at least double that to replace today.

The rig represents the cutting edge of drilling technology. It is a floating rig, capable of working in up to 10,000 ft water depth. The rig is not moored; It does not use anchors because it would be too costly and too heavy to suspend this mooring load from the floating structure. Rather, a triply-redundant computer system uses satellite positioning to control powerful thrusters that keep the rig on station within a few feet of its intended location, at all times. This is called Dynamic Positioning.

The rig had apparently just finished cementing steel casing in place at depths exceeding 18,000 ft. The next operation was to suspend the well so that the rig could move to its next drilling location, the idea being that a rig would return to this well later in order to complete the work necessary to bring the well into production.

It is thought that somehow formation fluids – oil /gas – got into the wellbore and were undetected until it was too late to take action. With a floating drilling rig setup, because it moves with the waves, currents, and winds, all of the main pressure control equipment sits on the seabed – the uppermost unmoving point in the well. This pressure control equipment – the Blowout Preventers, or ‘BOP’s” as they’re called, are controlled with redundant systems from the rig. In the event of a serious emergency, there are multiple Panic Buttons to hit, and even fail-safe Deadman systems that should be automatically engaged when something of this proportion breaks out. None of them were aparently activated, suggesting that the blowout was especially swift to escalate at the surface. The flames were visible up to about 35 miles away. Not the glow – the flames. They were 200 – 300 ft high.

All of this will be investigated and it will be some months before all of the particulars are known. For now, it is enough to say that this marvel of modern technology, which had been operating with an excellent safety record, has burned up and sunk taking souls with it.

The well still is apparently flowing oil, which is appearing at the surface as a slick. They have been working with remotely operated vehicles, or ROV’s which are essentially tethered miniature submarines with manipulator arms and other equipment that can perform work underwater while the operator sits on a vessel. These are what were used to explore the Titanic, among other things. Every floating rig has one on board and they are in constant use. In this case, they are deploying ROV’s from dedicated service vessels. They have been trying to close the well in using a specialized port on the BOP’s and a pumping arrangement on their ROV’s. They have been unsuccessful so far. Specialized pollution control vessels have been scrambled to start working the spill, skimming the oil up.

In the coming weeks they will move in at least one other rig to drill a fresh well that will intersect the blowing one at its pay zone. They will use technology that is capable of drilling from a floating rig, over 3 miles deep to an exact specific point in the earth – with a target radius of just a few feet plus or minus. Once they intersect their target, a heavy fluid will be pumped that exceeds the formation’s pressure, thus
causing the flow to cease and rendering the well safe at last. It will take at least a couple of months to get this done, bringing all available available technology to bear. It will be an ecological disaster if the well flows all of the while; Optimistically, it could bridge off downhole.



Contrast this fact and information based approach with the opinion-heavy letter from the "engineer with 25 years experience, who's used some 'big machines' and therefore knows more than 'MILLIONS of others' " at the end of the first link...

That's not how real engineers talk, -bombarding superlatives and declaring that nothing can be done...? -That's how hacks talk.

Keith
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MDM (maxdimario) wrote on Fri, 16 November 2007 21:36

I have the feeling that I have more experience in my little finger than you do in your whole body about audio electronics..

Podgorny

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Re: Worst Environmental Disaster Ever?
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2010, 09:31:16 pm »

ssltech wrote on Wed, 12 May 2010 20:10

That's not how real engineers talk




I tried clicking on "real".

I don't use big machines.
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arconaut

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Re: Worst Environmental Disaster Ever?
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2010, 09:24:31 am »


The "real engineer's" scheme does seem remarkably similar to a story line from the TV show, "Lost."
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bblackwood

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Brad Blackwood
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Podgorny

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Re: Worst Environmental Disaster Ever?
« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2010, 11:19:46 am »

And the Ixtoc 1 spill was only half the size of the Gulf War spill.

This is a disaster, no doubt.  But is this the end of life on Earth?  Probably not.  It's a pretty resilient rock we live on.

Frankly, I hope the Deepwater Horizon spill is finally the last straw.  The one that wakes people up and forces us to take alternative fuel sources seriously.
We're killing ourselves with oil - whether we're dumping it into our oceans or burning it into our atmosphere.
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"Nobody cares what the impedance is; all they care about is when you can walk into the room, set up a mic, turn the knobs, hit record, and make everybody go 'wow.'"

bblackwood

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Re: Worst Environmental Disaster Ever?
« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2010, 11:59:08 am »

Podgorny wrote on Thu, 13 May 2010 10:19

Frankly, I hope the Deepwater Horizon spill is finally the last straw.  The one that wakes people up and forces us to take alternative fuel sources seriously.

The dollar talks, plain and simple. Petroleum fuels are simply the most inexpensive efficient fuels we know of. And even if we ween ourselves off oil for fuel, we still need to pump it out of the ground - iirc, more than half of each barrel of crude is used for things other than fuel.

We won't see the end of oil pumping in our lifetime and I'd be surprised if an inexpensive enough alternative is found any time soon...
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Brad Blackwood
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Jay Kadis

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Re: Worst Environmental Disaster Ever?
« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2010, 12:18:00 pm »

bblackwood wrote on Thu, 13 May 2010 08:59

We won't see the end of oil pumping in our lifetime and I'd be surprised if an inexpensive enough alternative is found any time soon...
Oil is perceived as inexpensive only if we disregard it's ancillary costs, which are subsidized by deregulation and tax breaks for the industry as well as military adventurism in the gulf.  We just don't pay the real costs at the gas pump.

There will be cheaper options available if we concentrate on developing them instead of catering to the oil lobby.

Edvaard

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Re: Worst Environmental Disaster Ever?
« Reply #11 on: May 13, 2010, 01:06:18 pm »


Yes, the ancillary costs are huge already, just from the production standpoint. And then there's the usage byproduct costs, the smog, air pollution, underground leaks into the water table, oil spills, etc. The subsidies and various tax incentives available to alternative energy are fairly significant in some instances, but there is a long long way to go before they add up to anywhere near the total financial aid given to petroleum and nuclear energy.


The other problem with making the conventional energy sources artificially lower cost is that it skews the market mechanisms that would otherwise provide greater motivation for businesses and consumers to seek lower energy consumption in their choice of all energy using products/devices, which in turn would compel manufacturers to expend more effort on designing increased efficiency into these goods.


Regardless of energy source, less usage=less cost and less pollution.

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bblackwood

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Re: Worst Environmental Disaster Ever?
« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2010, 01:25:41 pm »

Jay Kadis wrote on Thu, 13 May 2010 11:18

bblackwood wrote on Thu, 13 May 2010 08:59

We won't see the end of oil pumping in our lifetime and I'd be surprised if an inexpensive enough alternative is found any time soon...
Oil is perceived as inexpensive only if we disregard it's ancillary costs, which are subsidized by deregulation and tax breaks for the industry as well as military adventurism in the gulf.  We just don't pay the real costs at the gas pump.

There will be cheaper options available if we concentrate on developing them instead of catering to the oil lobby.

Oh, I agree, not suggesting we should keep on keeping on, so to speak.

Just saying that for Joe Sixpack, the price paid at the pump will have to be similar if there's to be any support.

It's telling how many reactions I've heard to this spill which were initially "how much is this going to cost us at the pump?"...
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Brad Blackwood
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Jay Kadis

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Re: Worst Environmental Disaster Ever?
« Reply #13 on: May 13, 2010, 01:52:45 pm »

Old habits die hard, but if we continue on the current path much longer we will pay an exorbitant price for our obstinance.  There really are potentially ground-breaking advances in materials science that may make technologies like artificial photosynthesis the foundation of a new energy economy.  We should focus on this kind of approach as soon as possible if we want to minimize the eventual pain.  Figuring out how to extract more oil from miles below oceans is not in our best interest even in the short term.

Maybe Joe Sixpack will finally realize he doesn't need an F-250 to haul his groceries.

ssltech

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Re: Worst Environmental Disaster Ever?
« Reply #14 on: May 13, 2010, 02:29:14 pm »

Quote:

Maybe Joe Sixpack will finally realize he doesn't need an F-250 to haul his groceries.



Shhhhhhhhh!!!

-We just had that argument in a recent 'car' thread...

Twisted Evil
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MDM (maxdimario) wrote on Fri, 16 November 2007 21:36

I have the feeling that I have more experience in my little finger than you do in your whole body about audio electronics..
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