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History Repeating Itself in the Gulf of Mexico?

— Filed under: Breaking News, Politics & Government, Science & Technology
Deepwater Horizon Drill Rig

Image by SkyTruth via Flickr

After mesmerizing much of America and the rest of the world on Saturday, we're faced with the sobering reality now that BP's top-kill approach has failed to stop the oil gushing in the Gulf of Mexico. The White House continues to alternate between pseudo-apologetic and angry, with Obama saying that the failure is "as enraging as it is heartbreaking."

Ixtoc I oil well blowout

Image via Wikipedia

The Deepwater Horizon disaster is not actually the first major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, or even the largest. That honor belongs to the Ixtoc I disaster in 1979. The similarities are shocking and many: an explosion aboard an oil rig, a faulty blowout preventer, chemical dispersants, junk shots and top kills - and months of gushing oil. Rachel Maddox summarizes these and other similarities in an excellent and highly recommended video which suggests that history is repeating itself, and that drilling relief wells is the only proven solution.

A home sunk by Sidoarjo mud flow. Taken by col...

Image via Wikipedia

The "junk shot" method which BP attempted earlier to stop the Deepwater Horizon spill also bears more than a passing resemblance to a method used by PT Lapindo to try to stop the mud volcano in Sidoarjo, East Java in 2007. The cause of the Lapindo mud flow is still a topic of contention, but the generally accepted reason is that drilling mistakes caused a mud volcano to erupt. Concrete balls dropped into the crater failed to stop the flow of mud. Three years later, "new spouts are opening up" and mud continues to gush at up to 100,000 cubic meters per day, and could continue for 30 years.

Is this what we have to look forward to in the Gulf of Mexico? Will our attempts to 'plug the hole' simply cause new leaks to spring up elsewhere? Is the discovery of up to 3 new oil plumes (first two here, the latest one here) simply the beginning of multiple leaks all over the sea floor?

Is there any solution that might actually work? Relief wells are still months away from completion. Some are seriously suggesting the nuclear option. What do you think?

Ethan's picture

another man made disaster

I wish this story surprised me but it seems the greed of corporations and not enough regulations for safety make these types of disasters inevitable. You think that after the 79 disaster they would make sure nothing like that would happen again but there it is in the same part of the world even. The level of ocean pollution is staggering. Oil spills,huge amounts of garbage, coral reefs dying from fertilizer runoff, and of course all ocean fish have mercury in them that you get when eating them.

With the mud volcano in Java I was reading they estimate it will flow for the next 30 years. But I think it is geoologically different than the Deepwater Horizon event. Who knows maybe one day we will really go to far and we will see a repeat of the Siberian Traps.

Bernard's picture

True that the mud volcano is

True that the mud volcano is geologically different, but the concrete balls method with which they attempted to stop the mud flow sounds similar to the "junk shot" method previously attempted by BP.

opit's picture

Related Articles

May 6 I ran a short post on stories related to
Care2 has had a number of picks relating to this as well : a handy newsboard and a large international community if you're not familiar with it. I haven't even checked in on Current TV but I'm sure they have a ton of info also. Over at Opera Community science writer Dr. John v. Kampen noted - via email - this was a small well and thought it might finally provide a lesson about environmental risks which nature might eventually cure: at a high temporary cost.
Drilling for disaster lists more videos about older experiences at one of his weblogs.

The_elusive_STEALTH's picture

Nuclear Option.

Big thumbs up for the Nuclear option. BP could ask North Korea and Iran to develop them a bomb suitable for opening up a bigger gash and releasing more oil. YAY!

opit's picture

The Bomb

Usually you ask people who have lots of an item if there is any to spare. The U.S. doesn't need help from anyone.
Further ideas are at

The_elusive_STEALTH's picture


I was being sarcastic. But never put '*sarcasm*' thingy's at the beginning and end of the sarcastic remark so i forgive you.

The_elusive_STEALTH's picture

Send BP a message!

“Louisiana isn’t the only place that has
shrimp.” - British Petroleum rep Randy Prescott.... Office phone number is (713) 323-4093. Email: Give him a call or send an email. You can tell him “And BP isn’t the only place that has fuel for my car!”


Tony Hayward, CEO
c/o British Petroleum
International Headquarters
1 St. James Square
London S.W. 1 Y4PD
United Kingdom

opit's picture

Beyond oil

National Wildlife Federation Volunteer Gulf Coast Surveillance Teams - National Wildlife Federation - - NWF

Help Wildlife Impacted by the BP Oil Spill - Plz Join, Take Action & Share -- TY!!! - - Facebook Action Site

Sierra Club email : What we saw in the Gulf
Flawed Government Predictions on Drilling? - Dateline NBC

CBS Threatened With Arrest For Filming The Oil Spill

Robert Marsh II posted much of this content. Here is another of his articles for source reference

atotrorgo's picture

Hello , I from CA

Hello. I am a CA Jourist, I would share somthing here soon.