- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
The DoE is one of the 17 federal agencies involved in overseeing the activities in the Gulf to stem the crude oil flow. The Coast Guard is the lead agency. This week, Chu handpicked five of the top minds from the JASON group to meet with BP executives in Houston and discuss potential solutions. Chu instructed his team to develop plans B, C, D, E and F.
The JASON group is a think tank that is dedicated to researching complex problems for the U.S. Government, including the Defense Department. The group was founded in 1958-1959 as a special part-time division in the newly created Institute for Defense Analysis. It is a federally funded think tank that is supposed to act as a counterweight to research done by various military branches, private corporations and the CIA.
Members of Chu’s group include Jonathan I Katz, a physics professor at Washington University in St. Louis whose early work focused on the field of astrophysics but not consults and a wide variety of physics puzzles.
Richard L. Garwin is a physicist and IBM Fellow Emeritus. At 82, he is best known for his work in helping to develop the first hydrogen bomb in 1951. He held a symposium in 1991 with special experts to determine the best methods of stemming oil breaches from the oil wells in Iraq and Kuwait during the Persian Gulf War.
George Cooper is a civil engineering professor at the University of California at Berkeley. As an emeritus professor, he is best known for his work at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to modify mining techniques on earth for use on Mars. BP had mentioned that conditions surrounding the leaking off-shore well resembled those of outer space.
Alexander Slocum is a professor of mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass. He holds over 60 patents for devices related to biotechnology, computer science and robotics among others.
Tom Hunter from Sandia Laboratories is the last member of the team. He is currently the president of Sandia Corp., which manages the lab. He has been with the company since 1967 and has been heavily involved in research for the DoE’s National Nuclear Security Administration.
It is currently estimated that the damaged well is leaking over 5,000 barrels of crude oil into the Gulf each day. Major news networks are reporting that NPR has found a scientist that loudly proclaims this number is grossly understated and a more correct value would be 70,000 barrels per day by his estimation. BP is currently in position to try three approaches. The first is an intercept well that will take a few months to complete but is expected to be the best and final way to stop the flow. The second is a top-hat system that could be placed over the pipe to capture the flow and siphon material to a ship on the surface. The third method that is about to be attempted this weekend is to thread a pipe into the 6-inch well casing. It has to be threaded deep enough into the pipe to prevent the formation of methane crystals, which doomed a previous attempt to cap the leak. BP says that the company is currently consulting with 500 people from over 100 companies in attempts to shore up the problem.