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Oil Spill Cleanup Ideas From Public Flowing to Officials

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The ideas range from anti-matter beamed from satellites to the lowly hay bale. If anything, they show how creative Floridians can get when their way of life is threatened by the worst oil spill in the nation's history.

Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Mike Sole, who is leading the state's response to the Deepwater Horizon disaster, invited the public to submit any and all suggestions on May 14. Several hundred have poured in to innovative.technology@dep.state.fl.us since.

Some of them, including a vermiculite-based oil absorbent offered by a south Florida concrete manufacturer, are under serious consideration.

Many, including vendors hawking chemical dispersants not approved for use, have been quickly dismissed.

"While the state appreciates the concern expressed by Floridians and the ingenuity of those seeking alternative measures to help protect the state's shoreline, it is important to ensure that proposed measures are helpful and not harmful," DEP spokeswoman Amy Graham said in a statement.

Hay bales were nixed by DEP as inappropriate when county emergency managers suggested them last month, but they remain popular with armchair engineers.

An idea to use a submarine filled with concrete was deemed "not feasible." Another involving a "bubble curtain boom" was forwarded to Deepwater Horizon operator BP.

Gov. Charlie Crist is under fire from some critics for not being tough enough on BP or for not responding quickly enough to protect the state's tourism industry.

At least Florida is ahead of the game when it comes to tapping the public's creative energy. Only on Friday did leaders of the federal response team put out a similar public call.

It's clear from the list DEP has compiled that Floridians are eager, even desperate, to help.

Kraig Shook, a specialty concrete manufacturer from Tequesta, is waiting to hear if his product, Earthbond Green, will get the green light.

It was born in 2006 when a hydraulic line in his architectural-elements manufacturing plant burst and spewed a vat of his vermiculite-based concrete mix with oil. The material encapsulated the oil and Shook said he was able to scoop the oil out without dirtying his hands. He didn't think about it again until the April 20 explosion in the Gulf of Mexico that unleashed the Deepwater Horizon slick.

Shook wants to spread the product, which he says is safe enough to swallow, on marshes to protect them from the advancing oil. It can also be tucked into absorbent booms or spread on the surface between layers of booms. Last week, he demonstrated it to the Louisiana Senate.

"It's hydrophobic, it hates water and it loves oil," he said. "It looks like gray shredded paper and cocaine powder. If you were stopped with a batch of it in your car, the cops would definitely call the drug-sniffing dogs."

The material costs about $295 a cubic yard or $17,160 per mile when stuffed into absorbent booms, he said.

"It's not about the money to me," he said. "It's about being able to take my two kids to the beach. They're water babies."

By far the most unconventional idea, using satellites and super computers to zap the spill with a beam that renders the oil harmless, is getting short shrift - at least according to its most ardent proponent, Anthony Brown II of Boynton Beach.

Brown manufactures an activated clay product that drillers use to remove oil from their waste stream. It's being considered by spill responders in Louisiana, he said.

But Brown is convinced that his colleagues at South African-based Solar Sonic Laboratories International have the best answer.

On May 21, he submitted the following explanation to DEP.

"SSLI has perfected a device to capture solar sonic energy and concentrate them through a highly magnetic focal point using ground-based assets that project to conventional satellites which, in combination with various guidance, positioning and targeting hardware, hold the ability to precisely identify a given target matter at molecular level and then manipulate only the molecules of the target matter through the induction of sonic energy or anti matter."

The company has offered to put up millions for a demonstration, but DEP, after a brief e-mail exchange, has deemed the idea "not feasible."

"There is no conventional technology, nor groups of conventional technologies that can deal with this spill," Brown said. "No one has given me a straight answer as to why we're not allowed to test. You would think they are doing everything in their power."

24 Responses »

  1. My '41 Ford had an emergency crank in the trunk. When this nonsense is over, methinks they needs to design a well with a reliable backup manual shutoff valve.

  2. I would suggest making a large flexible type hose to put arounnd the entire
    oil leak thus capturing a quantity of oil. The "hose" will need to be big enough to go completely around the leak
    and come entirely up to the surface. Thus keeping it from spreading

  3. The best thing now is to act . There is already to much wasted time. There are a lot of great Ideas. Start trying one and if that doesn't work than try another. Than a least people will know that you are trying. All this talk only gets people frusterated. ACT NOW! If it were your families lives at stake you would ACT. Everyone in America is effected by this disaster , we all live in this country and this is our home , no matter which state you live in. We shouldn't think about separating ourselves by states or districts. We are all Americans and we all want what is best for our neighbors, because if they suffer we suffer. So LET"S GET TO WORK AND GET THE JOB DONE NOW!

  4. I believe that there is no way to stop the overwhelming force of the oil flowing out in this degree. They should use a funneling system designed to deal with fuel, propane, oil. Something similar to a giant version of the clear high velocity tubbing used in gas powered stoves. The tubbing should be clamped around the opening of the well breakage point. Then the oil should be directed to the surface of the water and in to containers. At the top there should be a valve system similar to I.V.'s used in hospitals so that when the container is almost full another can be attached. After time the oil will eventually slow down and then subside to the point where the opening can be blocked. Thank you for your time and take care. Ella

  5. Mr. President ,

    Before this oil leak disaster becomes larger than it is now, use the military and their ideas to cover the well and pump remaining oil into ships for refining.

    I am simple minded Arkanasan that cares about the environment even though I am not in that area of the disaster.

    You cover the whole well with concrete or metal housing and use a heavy pump for the oil.
    You have already waited long enough that many marine animals are dying or dead. Get off of you lazy butt and do something!!!!!!!

  6. Round up all of the illegal aliens ship them down to the Golf... Pass out about 100 million sponges put them to work.. sponging up the oil.. when it's all done.. ship them back to Mexico... at least we would've gotten something.. for putting up with them all these years.... if you think I'm kidding... I'm not

  7. Rather than shoveling tar balls into plastic bags when they come on shore, why not prevent them from washing up at all? I suggest the use of concrete barriers like those used during road construction and reinforce them with sand bags to keep the water from seeping between them. I think it would be better to have those concrete barriers lined along the shoreline of the Gulf Coast instead of allowing the oil to flow on shore.

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  8. All the people who have been displaced out of a job, particularly the fishermen, should be supplied with modified equipment that would enable them to capture the oil floating around in the gulf.
    They should try to contain as much as their vessels will allow and be able to contain the captured oil into barrels, where they can sell the oil back to BP for what they would normally sell the barrel or fish for.
    The other people who are out of work as a result of this disaster should be placed on the beaches and marsh areas trying to clean up the mess there, those who cannot physically cleanup beaches or marshes should be placed in the administrative positions needed to supervise and administer this operation.

  9. This may have been suggested, but I know it will work to stop the oil and control it's flow. Push a tube into the oil line with a pressurized bulb on the end. Inflate the bulb inside the leaking oil line with control valves at the top. I am sure it would work, just as this system worked on me when I had my surgery!

  10. 200'x12'Grain or Silage Bags can hold a thousand barrels of Oil ! Many farms up here in the north country store Grain and Silage in these giant bags so why can't Oil be bagged slip string on the bottom of the big bag can be released letting any water out the bottom or rear of the bag ! Small local fishing boats can pull these bags very easy as I have seen a TV show that showed a small boat dragging a very large bag of fresh water to a dry country ! so I know small boats can pull these bags ! Fishermen can catch Oil for a living @
    $71 dollars a barrels, one bag can hold many thousand of dollars worth of precious Oil, so good business sense means they should not Disburse Oil or burn it off !
    1000 barrels of oil ! $71,000 !
    Please assist me in my Oil collection Technologies !

    • Hey Darrell,
      I'm working on some ideas that use those bags for storage in open waters and just off shore. I also think the reselling of the captured oil has a great motivating factor as well as being able to quantify the extent of damage which can be factored into the selling price as punitive damages from BP.
      So where does one get those bags? I'll try google but contact me if you want to help me solve some details.

  11. Oil on the surface is hard to deal with, but oil plumes drifting underwater are impossible. Create tiny air bubbles below the plume, they will slowly rise to the surface, and carry the oil with it. Bubbles can be created either direct5ly by sparging air into the water, or dissolve air into water at high pressure and pump it into the water where bubbles will form, much like carbonated water. A floculant might be beneficial also.

  12. Placing a bubble curtain around the spill could coral the oil into a centralized area that would localize the cleanup area its the similar method used by whales to coral fish into a concentrated area for hunting because this causes a localized upward current it would push the oil upwards quicker slowing the spreading of the oil and fighting against the natural currents that would be fighting to spread the oil out..

    • sorry did not see the other response basically the same this method actually could be used to keep oil off the beaches and marshes too by creating a artificial air reef to prevent and coral the oil into a skimable area for recovery

  13. My thoughts are simple... not even high tech.... just innovative business practices.

    Couldn't BP contract with any oil reclaimation company that they have free the oil they clean up and BP would buy it back from them at half the current market of oil.


    The clean up is faster.
    The damage to the ecology is lessened.
    Small companies get an incentive that is not out of the government's pocket.
    BP has to clean it anyway.
    Great deal for small companies and probably less costly to BP than the clean up could be.

    Just my thoughts.

  14. If B.P can not stop the leak untill the relief wells are drilled. Maybe someone could build some type of equipment that could inject some type of highly absorbant material (that floats) into the cloud of oil that is leaking at the bottom of the ocean. Maybe the oil would mix in with the material and not seperate into different layers and all of the oil (or most) would float to the top of the ocean making the oil easier to handle and keep away from the coast line untill it is collected in some manner.

  15. Nothing seems to be good idea to B.P. Maybe there is no good ideas, just have to wait for the relief wells. But while we wait, could someone find some type of super duper shrink wrap kinda stuff and wrap around and around the leaking area that we see on tv all the time. maybe it could stop or at least slow the leak down a little , any amont of less oil would help.

  16. A "material shield". Conventional way to save the beaches from the oil globs. Use 30x30 ft rolls of heavy cotton fiber to lay over the beach sand to collect the globs. Beginning approximately 5 feet into the water and extending back towards the beaches. Each section placed approximately 1 ft apart from each other and held in place by the a heavy metal rod in which the fiber is rolled on each end, almost like an old fashioned scroll. When the rolls are filled with oil, they can be easily rolled up, collected and replaced by a fresh roll of fiber. The oily fiber and metal rods can be recycled. This will probably be unsightly for the summer beach season but it will save the sand that is being collected along with the oil and thrown away by shielding it.

  17. some interesting ideas - I'm guessing many of the "at the well" ideas are subject to physics and pressure issues we know little about (pressure, currents, depth, etc.). Some of the "beach side" ideas have the surf to deal with (putting concrete barricades - they would sink in the sand [subsidence])

    my 'silly' idea - the Florida places that rely on tourism: invite tourist/volunteers - offer discounts based on how much oil you pick up. Lots of people are interested in the spill and doing their part. There is news of the businesses down there hurting. Combine them.

  18. How about using something very similar to the idea Prince has except use it with trollers in the open water. Put the fiber material on drag nets behind the trollers and counter weight the nets to sink deep enough to collect the oil . Maybe it would collect some of the oil that is under the surface.

  19. from huge aircraft, drop cast iron dust or shavings onto slick. then use ships with giant electro magnets to pull oil where desired

  20. electro magnets might also be effective in slowing the flow of oil from pipe