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Are BP's Relief Wells Actually a Sigh of Relief?


In the roughly two months since the Deepwater Horizon explosion, the completed construction of BP's oil relief wells (expected sometime toward the end of August) has served as the only solid beacon of hope for the recovery of the region. However, as Grist and several other sources have reported recently, there is still a considerable amount of doubt about whether the two wells will actually be able to stop the oil that's gushing into the Gulf.

It seems so long ago that we had those brief, crazy flings with "junk shots," "kill shots," and "top kills." Those were engineers doing improv. But there was always a net: Engineers know relief wells, we're told, and once the two wells currently being drilled are finished in August, the problem will be solved. Now, as we tumble toward the net, a jarring question crops up: What if they don't work? ... Two spills are often cited to make the point that relief wells are tricky: the Ixtoc 1 spill near Mexico in 1979, which took almost a year to stop, and a leak off the coast of Australia last fall,which required five tries before the relief well worked. ... Yesterday, Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen mentioned for the first time that other backup plans are being hashed out in case the relief wells fail.


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Let's hope BP doesn't mess this one up. Read the full story at Grist

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via Barry Schapiro / Twitter

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