May 13th, 2010
12:01 PM ET

Making a mountain to stop the oil

See this island? It wasn't here yesterday.

The Louisiana National Guard poured in tons of sand and rock to fill a 700 foot gap in a barrier island to stop the oil from reaching the estuaries.

The gap was the result of hurricane damage in Elmer's Island, just across the bridge from Grand Isle.

Filled in, the island will now be a part of the last line of defense in Louisiana's scramble to protect it's ecologically sensitive coast. The area is also an important breeding ground for shrimp.

"It's ecologically and economically very important to the local community," Lt. Kyle Galloway told CNN.

soundoff (338 Responses)
  1. Tom

    inspiral: I'm leery of permeable fabrics, especially once the pores get plugged with sediment, microparticles, etc. I'm still wrestling with the gas expansion problem. By the time the gas reaches the surface it will have expanded to 157 times its original volume. What does an oil well normally do with excess methane? Flare it off? Capture it and sell it? Is capturing the methane even necessary here? Or can it simply be allowed to dissipate into the water?

    If the methane can be let back into the water, then it seems like what's needed is the opposite of a settling pond. That is, instead of letting silt settle to the bottom of still water, something that will allow gaseous methane to rise into a chamber above the oil and then pass through a giant inverted drain trap like what's under your sink that would let the gas escape first up and then back down through an outlet, but would still keep seawater from coming back in thrrough the trap because the pressure inside would equal the pressure outside. Then the oil-water mix could be pumped from an outlet somewhere beneath the gas/oil interface so the outlet would never be exposed to expanding methane.

    May 13, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. EdM

    @Krista, amount of oil gushing out of this well wastated by the media in barrels, not gallons. 1 barrel = 31 US gallons.

    May 13, 2010 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  3. steve

    I don't think releasing methane at or near the surface is a good idea – doesn't that change the buoyancy of the water? Any ships in the area will go straight down. If it's piped, then it's ok but "what if' THAT pipe burst?


    May 13, 2010 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  4. MCW

    so it's all the republicans fault, gotta be kidding me ex-post-facto frank

    May 13, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. stix213

    @gaetano marano

    At that depth we are looking at around 150x atmospheric pressure, plus it is EXTREMELY cold. To pump oxygen down to that depth and pressures to start a fire of extremely slow burning crude oil using remote controlled robots (subs can't go that deep) is pretty ridiculous and speaks to your utter lack of understand of the situation lol

    May 13, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. MCW

    maybe we could get someone to turn the donkey wheel and move the island on the bottom of the ocean in LOST on top of the leak?

    May 13, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. SD

    Why doesn't gravity keep this stuff from sinking BELOW the ocean surface? Sheesh! PS didn't show up for class today...don't worry I brought home your homework for ya!

    May 13, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  8. MCW

    EdM – a bbl of oil is 42 gallons, not 31

    May 13, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Petroleum Eng

    I don't believe any nukes, bombs or explosives are meant to withstand 2000+ psi of pressure...that would be a problem even getting them there. You can't just go back in the well, there is a bent pipe sticking out that is working like a choke, restricting the flow and the amount that can escape. Containment is the only solution until the other hole is drilled without making things 100 times worse.

    May 13, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Spendlove

    I'm laughing pretty hard at some of the comments in here today.. seems like some have had a little too much coffee. I liked best a previous statement some lines up that said pretty much in a nutshell, everything that can be done is being done from the President to BP down to Military and the local fishermen. It's pretty easy to sit at home and watch or read news and then comment on it, a little more difficult to actually handle these problems in person and by the looks of it the situation seems very complicated. Godspeed to everyone involved our thoughts and prayers are with you.

    And on a side-note, oil sucks look what it has done to our home.. time to develop and implement better forms of energy.

    May 13, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  11. MCW

    "time to develop and implement better forms of energy"

    it's past time but much easier said than done

    May 13, 2010 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Joe

    Amazing how so many people, who obviously know nothing about physics and engineering, suggest totally idiotic "simple" solutions. Do they believe that the team of people dealing with it are all retarded and have no ideas what to do. If it were as simple as blowing it up with explosive to collapse the well or dump a pile of sand on the leak, as was suggested, don’t you think they would have thought of that and would have done it already. Actually most of the suggestions either would be totally ineffective and the rest would actually make matters much worse. Get informed and educate yourself and please refrain from embarrassing yourself

    May 13, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  13. sam

    Rush say" This Oil Spill is OK". so As you say my so called "Lord". It's good for our enviornment, let's spill more. SPILL baby PILL

    May 13, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  14. MCW

    "Rush say" This Oil Spill is OK". so As you say my so called "Lord". It's good for our enviornment, let's spill more. SPILL baby PILL"

    What does this even mean?

    May 13, 2010 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  15. hasoos

    The only reason they haven't capped the well is because those idiots are still trying to save it for oil production. This could have easily plugged with the advanced concretes that our industrial societies have available to them now, but the only reason they haven't, is because they are trying to save the well. And yes concrete can dry even underwater, because it really isn't drying, it is curing. They could simply run a pipe all the way to the bottom, heat the concrete so it doesn't freeze and pour over the thing until it is plugged. If they used the structure they built to try and contain it as a structure to hold the concrete until it hardened, it would go very fast.

    May 13, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
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