BP via Associated Press
This image from a video released by BP PLC shows oil spewing from a yellowish, broken pipe 5,000 feet below the surface. The oil looks like steam rushing from a geyser. The video released Wednesday May 12, 2010 gave a not-yet-seen glimpse of the leaking well a mile underwater. The stream occasionally can be seen becoming lighter as natural gas mixes into the gusher.
After numerous failures to stop an oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, private citizens are stepping forward and offering their ideas on how to get the job done.
Going into the third calendar month of leaking, a government-estimated 18 to 40 million gallons of oil has leaked into the Gulf from a BP pipe thousands of feet underwater.
Unsolicited ideas submitted by NBCDFW.com readers include using a device similar to the “jaws of life” to crimp the leaking pipe.
Others, like one from a local science firm, include a type of chemical dispersant similar to the one already in use. An online video shows a man identifying himself as a company scientist demonstrating the dispersant’s power on oil. It even shows him spraying the chemical into his mouth to show how safe it is.
Another man created the website Stopthegulfspill.com -- a community forum for common citizens to submit and discuss possible ideas to stop the gusher under the sea.
The website author writes, “Let’s pool our collective intelligence and look for solutions to the problem. There are over 6 billion people on this planet and I find it really hard to believe that someone doesn’t have a good or great idea or ideas that can help us end this situation.”
If you go to BP’s website, the embattled company has a phone number listed on its home page that people can call with their ideas and suggestions.
So far, the company has gotten 32,000 suggestions and ideas on how to stop the leak, BP spokesman Toby Odone said Tuesday afternoon.
Odone described the process of handling all those submissions as being like hospital triage.
A call center fields all the calls. That external agency either writes down the idea or, if the caller can’t adequately verbalize it, they ask the caller to submit the idea in writing.
Once the information is received, a team of engineers vet the suggestions in detail and categorize them as ideas they could possibly use, or solutions that have already been submitted or tried.
“Ones that are of interest and usable go to a third stage,” Odone said.
But only a tiny fraction of those ideas move up.
“Of the 32,000 we’ve received, 235 of those went to stage three,” Odone said.
Another team of scientists and engineers are currently looking at those 235 ideas to determine if they can be field tested. So far, none of those 235 solutions have been tested or used.
The top kill, the top hat, the junk shot -- those were all BP ideas.
Odone could not provide a time frame or goal of when those ideas would be put to test because the situation is just too fluid.
On April 20, an explosion and fire on a drilling rig 42 miles off the Louisiana cost licensed to BP killed 11 workers. The rig was drilling for oil 13,000 feet under the gulf’s bed in about 5,000 feet of water.
After two days of burning, the rig finally sunk. Three days after that, on April 25, the U.S. Coast Guard detected oil spewing from a pipe thousands of feet under water.
If you have an idea, you can call BP’s idea call center at 281-366-5511.