He's used to big budget disasters and knows a bit about submarines, so it might not be so surprising that movie director James Cameron is the latest "expert" to join a team trying to stop the Gulf gusher.
The Obama Administration had the "Titanic" and "Avatar" director join a team of serious scientists for a brainstorming session on how to plug the mile-deep oil leak that has so far spewed as much as 40 million gallons of crude oil into the ocean. A Cameron crony, Phil Nuytten, who built submarines Cameron used in his 1989 undersea thriller "The Abyss," also joined the meeting in Washington.
"James Cameron was in the room and knows many of the scientists and engineers who participated," an official at the meeting told reporters.
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In addition to "Titanic," Cameron made a pair of documentaries about the legendary shipwreck, employing several specially designed remote control submersibles.
The assemblage of brainpower hopes to come up with a new gambit that will work. So far, methods with names like "top hat," "top kill" and "junk shot" have failed. The first was a 100-ton containment box that was lowered onto the broken pipe but was unexpectedly rendered buoyant by gases rising from 13,000 feet beneath the seabed. The other methods basically involved clogging the pipe with debris including golf balls and old tires. All have flopped.
BP, which operated the rig that exploded on April 20, is currently trying to slice the bent pipe and install a sealed dome on it once there is a straight section to cap. But experts believe the bend in the pipe is actually slowing the flow and that the new approach, even if successful, will at least temporarily increase the flow by as much as 20 percent. If it works, the dome will allow BP to siphon the oil upward to a waiting ship. The gambit hit a snag Wednesday, when the diamond-tipped saw got stuck. But officials hoped to get it working again quickly.
Meanwhile, BP is trying a longer-term approach, drilling diagonally through bedrock toward the pipeline, a method that could intercept the erupting oil but is more than a month away from fruition.
The growing oil slick has reached the shores of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi and is just nine miles from the coast of Florida, according to officials.