As oil continues to leak into the Gulf of Mexico, industry insiders and outsiders alike are finding ways to help clean up the spill with unusual ideas and products.
From granules that can soak up ten times their weight in oil, to hair and fur trimmings, various methods are being used to clean up oil in the water and on land.
“It’s very disheartening to see what’s happened to our waters and our shores,” said Darrell Roberts, CEO of Wal-Tech Valve in Mobile.
Roberts worked for Chevron’s refinery in Pascagoula, Miss. for 25 years and is familiar with oil service products and spill procedures. Roberts is a major proponent of a product called “Recoverit,” which he believes is the key to cleaning up the Gulf Coast.
Recoverit is a material that comes in the form of granules that can absorb 10 times their weight in oil and hydrocarbon contamination, according to the product website.
Wayne Cook, distributor of the product in the U.S., explained the Recoverit technology allows for a sustainable way to clean up and reuse the oil.
Cook said with a lot of traditional clean up methods, the contaminate is simply moved from one place to the next. One of the main benefits of Recoverit is it creates a whole system of reuse in which contaminate and product can be recycled instead of being sent to a landfill.
“To me that’s the biggest advantage of the product,” Cook said, “how green it really is.”
Roberts explained one of the biggest obstacles to promoting the product in the industry is set standards and processes used to deal with this type of situation.
“In the oil business, there’s established products and processes in place, and so it’s very difficult to bring a new product to market,” Roberts said.
Another method being used to separate some of the oil from coastal waters is being promoted by nonprofit organizations, like Matter of Trust based in San Francisco, Calif. and the Sunshine and Shores Foundation based in Destin, Fla.
Both organizations are mobilizing efforts to create “booms” out of hair, fur, fleece and other fibers.
Christina Lynch is the manager at Dillard’s Salon and Spa in Colonial Mall and said donating hair is the simplest thing to do because it just has to be swept up and put in a box to be sent to boom-making sites.
“It kind of hits home a little bit when it’s something that is close to you,” Lynch said, when asked why it’s important to help in the efforts to clean up the spill. She said the proximity of Auburn to the Gulf is enough reason to do what they can to help.
Lynch explained the organizations involved in making the booms contacted local salons and hairdressers to get as much hair donated to the cause as possible.
Volunteer effort is now needed to make the booms, Lynch said. Anyone interested in helping with this cause can get more information at www.matteroftrust.org or www.sunshineandshoresfoundation.org/.
All of the efforts, whether small or large, are helping to combat the situation in the Gulf, but the oil leak continues to contaminate the water.
“It’s like washing your hands and sticking them back in the mud,” Roberts said, adding that the leak needs to be dealt with first and foremost so the cleanup can be as effective as possible.