Gulf oil spill: Americans pitch their ideas for cleaning it up
Vacuum pumps, oil-eating bacteria, and hair booms are a few of the ideas for dealing with the Gulf oil spill.
From Billy Nungesser’s plan to dredge sand barriers across Louisiana’s southern coast to Kevin Costner’s oil-water separator, many big ideas are being thrown at the ever-growing slicks of oil drifting through the Gulf of Mexico.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Memories of hurricane Katrina are still fresh, and anxieties are building over this new disaster. So thousands of Americans would like to pitch in and help as they did after the 2005 hurricane. But with no easy avenue for volunteering, average citizens, along with many independent scientists and entrepreneurs, are instead weighing in with their own ideas for cleaning up America’s worst-ever environmental disaster.
Since the early days of the Gulf oil spill, BP has operated a hot line at its command center in Houston, which has fielded tens of thousands of calls on containing the blown wellhead and cleaning up the oil. Many callers have complained that they’ve received no follow-up responses from BP. Others say that bureaucratic hurdles are making the process slow.
BP did not respond to requests for comment. Earlier this month, Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Christopher O’Neil said that federal resources have been added to the command-center hot line, with operators taking calls around the clock. Callers would be receiving faster feedback on their ideas, O’Neil said.
For nearly two months, Frank Pajaujis, a partner at Florida-based Aabaco Environmental, has been in contact with BP and various government agencies, marketing his company’s bio-remediation product: an oil-absorbing material called bagasse. It’s a byproduct of sugar-cane processing and is impregnated with oil-eating bacteria.
“Our product is already [approved by the US Department of Agriculture], and we believe it would be a very useful and effective tool for helping to clean up the spill. But it’s taking awhile to get it approved,” Mr. Pajaujis says. “BP is looking at it, and Louisiana State University is conducting evaluation studies. They have to be cautious, so it is taking some time.”
Bill Tyner, a music producer who lives near Nashville, Tenn., is among the thousands of average citizens who have telephoned their ideas to BP. Concerned about the Gulf spill, he did some research and discovered another oil cleanup-product, called Smart Sponge, which its manufacturer (AbTech Industries) describes as a synthetic fiber that absorbs oil from water and transforms it into a stable solid. Earlier this month, he called BP’s hot line and wrote e-mails to the White House and political consultant James Carville. He hasn’t heard back.