Today I made the comment below at the CNN discussion of the planned "top kill" by BP and other Quick Fixes? that are being implemented in the wake of the Gulf oil disaster.

One of the problems is that nobody is looking at the downside. If the "top kill" is done and it fails, then can the situation become even worse? The pressures from the 18,000 foot deep well (at a further 5000 feet water depth) have not been disclosed but they were obviously "off the chart" of what the system was engineered to withstand. What makes anyone think that there is any potential to fix this with after the fact "tinkering". This is just a snow job to cover up the real situation - a deep and drastic tragedy for all mankind since all of the unknown volume of hydrocarbons are gushing out from the geological formation where these toxic liquids and gases were previously safely trapped. So, we get the percentage of chance for "success" but we do not get the percentage risk that failure will increase the gusher. I am so pleased that the media is no longer using words like "leak" to describe the problem. The oil is deep and light and has lots of "gas" which is Methane. Methane is 150 times more powerful than CO 2 as an atmospheric Green House Gas? (GHG) to cause Global Warming. The Methane is usually "flared" which means it is burnt off so that these oil wells (with natural gas mixture) do not allow the escape of methane to the atmosphere. We have an idea how much oil is flowing but nobody is talking about the methane (natural gas) that is concurrently released.

The real problem is technological arrogance and greed that characterizes this "extractive and exploitive" industry. We, the people, and our government representatives have not cared enough for the health of the planet to exercise any form of the "precautionary principle" - which is that a partial knowledge and understanding of any technological downside is not sufficient. In cases where consequences are unknown and uncertain could be much greater than we think and it is best to error on the side of caution.

We must now be cautious about the quick fixes that BP and the industry would now suggest because they may make the problem (for people and planet) worse and they may complicate the situation further and make it much worse just because they wish to limit the visible damage. Thus, the use of dispersants could cause the eco damage to not simply kill the Gulf but could kill the entire Atlantic. We are talking food chain collapse. People will starve - not just people living in poverty - global starvation is a prospect. The world has something to say about the idea of dispersant use. Because this vast pool of toxic hydrocarbon can pool in the Gulf and limit damage else where or it can become a soluble toxin that will spread into the Atlantic with the Gulf stream and the onset of the hurricane season.

Dispersants in the ocean are similar to using high chimneys for air pollutants. Put the pollutants so high that they don't contaminate so strongly locally but do contaminate the planet. The theory is that the dilution factor makes the toxicity less harmful. This approach is no longer accepted as ethical or effective and the same approach should not be condoned for the ocean. I also believe that the dispersed oil, not being so thick and so visible will actually cause more local damage. It will move further into the wetlands. - Sola Roof Guy

The Deepwater Horizon is capable of drilling up to 30,000 feet deep according to this industry article and we perhaps don't know exactly how deep they are but the information to go by is 18,000 feet below the seabed.

Deepwater Horizon was 396ft long and 256ft wide. It can operate at depth of 8,000ft under water and can be expanded to a maximum depth of 10,000ft under water. The maximum total drilling capacity is 30,000ft.

Drilling details

The rig started drilling a well at a water depth of 5,000ft in MC block 252 in February 2010, but exploded during drilling in April 2010. The rig was on fire continuously for three days.

As per the plan, the rig was supposed to be drilling the second of the two wells planned. But it faced oil spills over two fronts: one at the wellhead and another at the surface offshore. The wells are located in lease G-32306 over the prospect.The well was planned to be drilled to 18,000ft, and was to be plugged and abandoned for later completion as a subsea producer.

BP started a major oil well intervention and oil spill response (OSR) plan on the sinking of the rig. The OSR team recovered over 1,000 barrels of an oil-water mix, out of which a significant portion is water.