William Broad of the New York Times wrote yesterday that the Department of Energy has ruled out using a nuclear device in order to stop the BP oil leak, calling the idea "crazy". The leading proponent of the suggestion, Matt Simmons--a Houston energy expert and investment banker, noted that the Russians used nuclear weapons to end gas leaks five times from 1966-1981. Only the last attempt by the Russians was unsuccessful, the Broad stated.
While several million gallons of oil continue to spill into the Gulf, harming all wildlife in its wake, a nuclear device to plug the leak would be a terrible option. For one, the ecological and environmental consequences are completely unknown. Second, there is no guarantee that a detonation would stop the leak. To those who point to the successful Russian attempts, it should be noted that in each instance the leak occurred on gas land wells, NOT offshore oil rigs. Broad also argues that using a nuclear weapon would violate arms treaties at a time when President Obama is promulgating nuclear disarmament.