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RE: Gulf Oil Spill - Possible Fix

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There are over 3,800 platforms just in the Gulf of Mexico.  Their design criteria includes hurricane wind and wave loads.  They are drilling deeper than ever before.  And there are only a handful of wells at this depth.  At this depth, the oil is hotter, much higher in pressure and the environment is very corrosive.  Although they test and monitor elements, they are developing the technology predicated on experience that is unprecedented.  Then they put the systems together with a very high regard for safety for crews and the environment. 
That is not to excuse this disaster.  Any endeavor such as this carries risk.  Any failure such as this carries responsibilities that are both explicit and implicit. 
There are thousands of people working around the clock to deploy mitigation for the spilled oil, cap and plug the wells, and to respond to the oil as it comes ashore.  The news media is not very good at looking at the response, but the response is huge.   
I would encourage anyone to look at other posts on to see the technical challenges of this endeavor. 
There has been planning and there have been changes.  Every time there is an earthquake and people are killed, our profession comes under scrutiny.  The same question you pose now is posed to all structural engineers.  We learn, we change regulations, and we respond. 
We still do not design our buildings for the impact of commercial aircraft flown by terrorists.  It would be irresponsible to do so for all buildings.  But we have taken operational measures to reduce the likelihood. 
This unprecedented event will be studied and reviewed.  It will not happen overnight.  But we will learn, we will change regulations and we will develop responses predicated on risk. 

Regards, Harold Sprague


From: mblangy(--nospam--at)
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: RE: Gulf Oil Spill - Possible Fix
Date: Thu, 6 May 2010 11:29:58 -0700

How is it that something like this was not foreseen/prepared for/anticipated/planed for???????
-----Original Message-----
From: h.d.richardson [mailto:h.d.richardson(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Thursday, May 06, 2010 11:10 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Re: Gulf Oil Spill - Possible Fix

        Thank you very much for your response and for the link (which I have downloaded, printed, and will read in full).
        I realize my suggestion is very elementary and should have been considered by those in charge of the project; never-the-less, I would feel very bad if it turned out that it would have been useful and I didn't say anything about it.
        There is a saying that if you have a difficult problem and can find no solution you should consult a "Man From Mars" (please read this as man or woman and adjust the pronouns appropriately).  A "Man From Mars" is a person who is intelligent but has very little knowledge directly related to the problem and who, therefore, will have no inhibitions that will prevent him from considering solutions that may be so simple or obvious that the experts may actually overlook, ignore, or reject them out of hand.
Regards, and thanks again for the article,
H. Daryl Richardson
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, May 06, 2010 10:23 AM
Subject: RE: Gulf Oil Spill - Possible Fix

I wear many hats as many of you are aware.  If this is of interest, there are many tecnical magazines for marine construction, off shore marine petrochemical contruction, etc. 
This is a pretty good piece from

Regards, Harold Sprague


From: h.d.richardson(--nospam--at)
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Gulf Oil Spill - Possible Fix
Date: Wed, 5 May 2010 10:34:15 -0600

Fellow engineers,
        I have had some thoughts regarding the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and I have some ideas on how to stop it.
        I think it should be possible to make a tool in the form of a large pair of pliers or vice grip that could simply pinch off the pipe somewhere "above" the well/sea bottom intersection thereby stopping the leak.  Such a tool would require the use of a submarine to operate the tool and a second submarine using lights and TV cameras to guide the application.  I believe the U.S. Navy could carry this out.
        I foresee two problems with this solution.  Perhaps some of you (and I'm thinking of Chris Wright here) could comment on these problems and/or on anything else you want.
Problem 1. 
        Cracks could form at the ends of the "pinch" and propagate upstream possibly causing a bigger leak than we already have.  As a solution to this problem I see using a second tool, or perhaps a second part of the primary pinching tool, that would grip the pipe upstream of the "pinch" like a pair of pliers to provide a segment of compressive hoop stress and thereby act as a crack arrester.
Problem 2.
        The above action should stop the flow of oil but it would also increase the internal pressure upstream of the "pinch".  This increase in pressure could possibly cause a new leak upstream of the "pinch".  I don't have a solution for this problem.
        Perhaps some one of you could forward this (plus any comments it generates) to someone in a position to take action on the idea.
Best regards to all.
H. Daryl Richardson

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