Crowdsourcing for solutions sometimes turns up ideas that are more creative or higher quality than the “experts” ever could think up. (Like the protein-folding game/scientific experiment, Foldit, or even urban dictionary.)

Which is why we asked you, our dear readers, to plumb the depths of your brains for the slickest ideas to stop up the ocean floor like your Uncle Griswald after Thanksgiving dinner. And you all responded with a gush of ideas as unstoppable as the oil well itself. Here’s a sampling that should probably be submitted straight to BP:


“Duct tape.”

“Drop Rush Limblob and Glenn Blech down the hole. Their inflated egos and delusions of grandeur alone should be more than adequate to take care of the problem.”
   –Christina Ross

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

“How about using thousands of gallons of Engine Oil Stop Leak?”
   –Stephanie Allen Faircloth

Technical-est sounding

“My idea stems from the medical field. This would be much like the riser tube but wouldn’t allow seepage from around the sealing mechanism. A Foley catheter has an inflatable bulb at one end that keeps the catheter locked firmly in place and doesn’t allow seepage to pass around it. Something similar to that design may not only facilitate a clean method of collecting the oil but also provide a way to temporarily halt or slow the continuing blow back pressure long enough to inject a permanent cement plug.”

“Take a very heavy plate about 12 feet square. Weld beams to stiffen and cut a hole in the center. Slide heavy pipe through the hole in the manifold and weld. Weld another pipe over the hole on top of the plate. Make this section as heavy as possible and lower until the bottom pipe is inside the riser. When the plate rests it should be possible to attatch a hose or pipe to bring oil to the surface. So the whole thing is a heavy plate with pipes of various lengths welded to the top and bottom of a plate.”
   –Seamus Daly

“With their circular saw, make a partial cut in the riser pipe. Insert a steel plate in the resultant slot to block the majority of the pipe bore diameter. This will greatly slow the flow rate. With the crude slowed down, a top kill will work, because all the mud won’t be carried out by the rapidly escaping oil.”

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

oil spill fix diagramClick here for larger version.Diagram: UtahRugbyGuy

See the diagram at right.

Any comment from the prolific roughestneckaround, who’s an International Offshore Directional Drilling/Interventions Supervisor and seems to know his stuff. For example, see:

“It would require an automated snubbing unit to be anchored to the ocean floor so a drill stem could be run in the hole (tripped in) against the flow of oil. Then packers, DST tools could be set into place in the casing, and … fluid could be recovered.”


“Compel the BP executives to PERSONALLY engage in the cleanup and not resume their executive duties until the mess is completely cleaned up.”
   –Kathryn Ryder

“This is totally coming from my butt … if this dome is freezing and ice is forming why not go with it and freeze the damn thing shut with an ice block? Put that metal dome over it and pump some gas in there that will make it freeze up into a big house of ice.”

“Cut the pipe off at the ocean floor straight across. Then place a giant round iron ball over the pipe just like one would tee up a golf ball only this could be called a ‘gulf ball.’ Make the ball as big and as heavy as it needs to be to keep from getting blown off of the tee by the force of the rising oil.”
   –Bill Heber

“I have the solution to stop this leak. Will not reveal it until someone contacts me from Grist.”
   –Ernest Olivas

Grist reader Chris Pratt (a different category of funny)

“Allow the oil to come to the surface and have BP pay people $4/gallon to collect it.”

“Take a shot gun shell and fill it with super compressed nerf balls followed by a volley of paper towels, toilet paper and gummy bears. If that doesn’t work do it again only this time follow it up with a thousand coiled springs of different sizes. Maybe a giant vice that slowly compresses the pipe until it is as flat as a pancake.”

“Take a long rod with a metal umbrella at the end, shove it down the pipe and when it gets to the bottom the umbrellla pops open and closes off the pipe.”

Not really plugging the leak but maybe still helpful

“I would hire Arm and Hammer to dump thousands of pounds of baking soda into the Gulf. Baking soda+oil=soap. The Gulf would clean itself!”
   –Elizabeth Parker Deken

A huge sleeve,” or … “Supertankers could slowly tow a huge netlike system that has a mouth where the oil/water surface layer enters, floating on the surface and down under water just below the level of the oil. The oil would float to the back of the net/bag, then suction pipes could pump it into the tankers.”
   –John Schneider aka amazingdrx

1. “[Placing a] series of pipes around it; gradually closing them in siphoning off as much as possible.
2. Barges pulled by tugs or shrimp boats with suction/skimmer devices any size sucking whatever they could get and putting it into the barges. Move full barges to shore for processing and water seperation and later use.
3. Use the hay idea, hair idea, etc. shoot anything that will either stop it or absorb it.
4. Tell Bobby Jindal to build the berms to keep it from the marshes.”
   –Timothy T. Wells

“I say concrete socks for all those responsible who had the power to do otherwise. And maybe serve them oil and dispersant cocktails for a year before you put the socks on them and throw them in the gulf.”
   –Stella Burbey