Wednesday is when the so-called "top kill"
strategy is set in motion to combat the Gulf oil spill.
The idea is to plug the leak with drilling mud, and possibly add in an
assortment of objects to hold the mud in place if it appears to be
giving way. Commentators are hoping this measure will finally stop the flow--the odds of success have been pegged at 50%--but
many remain skeptical.
- None Too Reassured "According to one expert," writes Mother Jones's Kevin Drum, "'There's always a trade-off between making it better and making it worse. This probably has the least amount of risk of making it worse.' Why does that not make me feel especially comforted?"
- Great TV Business Insider's Joe Weisenthal reminds readers that the plugging attempt will be televised. "This is going to be one of the most dramatic live video events up there, arguably rivaling the famous re-entry of the Apollo 13 spacecraft."
- This Sounds Ridiculous True/Slant's David Knowles reviews the technique:
The plan calls for dumping 50,000 pounds of "viscous fluid" on top of the well. That may temporarily stop the oil, and give the company time to add concrete. If the initial attempts fail, BP says (and no, I’m not joking) that they will try to lodge a bunch of golf balls into the well. One wonders what the odds of success are for that plan.
- Great TV, and It Sounds Ridiculous "There will be a huge audience for what amounts to a deep-water version of blowing thick goo into a straw already sitting in water," confirms The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder.
- What If We Can't Do Anything? "It's entirely possible, even likely, that we're going to be stuck helplessly watching as this well spews oil into the Gulf for years," writes David Roberts at Grist. Furthermore, "even if the flow were stopped tomorrow, the damage to marshes, coral, and marine life is done." He wonders how Americans, unused to this sort of situation, will react to feeling "powerless."
- Various Problems At The Oil Drum, Heading Out
lists the "caveats to this operation." Here's one: "If the pressure in
the well gets too high it can cause fractures in the rock at the bottom
of the well, and this can cause the mud in the well to flow into the
rock, rather than sitting in the well holding the pressure against the