USSR used nuclear bombs to stop gas well blowouts

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Shared December 15, 2017

In September, 1966 the former Soviet Union suffered blowouts on five natural gas (methane) wells and despite their best efforts, including hydraulic fracturing, were unable to quench the flames.

The gas well accident in Urta-Bulak, about 80 kilometers from Bukhara, Uzbekistan in the former Soviet Union.

The Russian news agency Pravda said that after years of burning uncontrollably the Soviets were able to put out the fires.

The Soviets lowered a specially made 30 kiloton nuclear bomb into a 6 kilometres (20,000 ft) borehole drilled 25 to 50 metres (82 to 160 ft) away from the original (rapidly leaking) well.

A contained nuclear explosive was considered necessary because conventional explosive both lacked the necessary power and would also require a great deal more space underground.

When the nuclear bomb exploded, it crushed the original pipe and gas well from the deep reservoir to the surface and glassified the surrounding rock.

Within 23 seconds of the explosion, the leak and fire at the surface was finally put out.