Sunday, May 2, 2010

The oil spill could be about to worsten dramatically

As bad as the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is already, US authorities are looking at the possibility that it could become far worse:
A confidential government report on the unfolding spill disaster in the Gulf makes clear the Coast Guard now fears the well could become an unchecked gusher shooting millions of gallons of oil per day into the Gulf.

"The following is not public," reads the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Emergency Response document dated April 28. "Two additional release points were found today in the tangled riser. If the riser pipe deteriorates further, the flow could become unchecked resulting in a release volume an order of magnitude higher than previously thought."


The worst-case scenario for the broken and leaking well pouring oil into the Gulf of Mexico would be the loss of the wellhead and kinked piping currently restricting the flow to 5,000 barrels -- or 210,000 gallons -- per day.

If the wellhead is lost, oil could leave the well at a much greater rate.
Source (h/t Rajiv in this iTulip thread). If that happens, this could have effects that reach far from the source of the problem. For instance, further down in the same thread, we_are_toast posted the following:
You people across the pond better get your paper towels ready. If the riser pipe fails and it takes 90 days to drill a relief well, you're in for a big surprise.

Yikes. And for further emphasis, a couple of posts down we have this:
As others in the thread have pointed out, this could be the oil industry's Chernobyl.

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