So Many Oil Spill Cleanup Ideas, So Little Time

Monday, May 24, 2010

BP cleanup worker Perry LeBoef stretches an oil-soaked boom along a beach on May 23, 2010 on Elmer's Island, Louisiana. Officials now say that it may be impossible to clean the oil-affected wetlands. (John Moore/Getty)

Since last month’s explosion on the Deepwater Horizon well, it seems like everyone has an idea for how to clean up the spill. BP spokesman John Curry told us on Friday that its call center had received 74,000 calls and 19,000 emails with recommendations for cleanup technology – everything from advice to services to equipment.

Connie Mixon is one of those callers. Her company, MyCelx, creates technology for cleaning up oil spills; it's been used in the United States, Europe, Canada and Asia. She talks about her struggle to get BP's attention in the midst of the worst oil spill in years.


Connie Mixon

Produced by:

Posey Gruener and Marine Olivesi

Comments [18]

azmi from thailand

suggestion tools that used to clean-up oil spills in the water and on the lands.

Jul. 07 2010 01:04 AM
PrinceBryant from Germany

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.

Jun. 27 2010 07:41 PM
Barbara Asmus from Mobile, AL

Helicopter pilots who report the onslaught of the more solid globs of oil off-shore COULD be gathering it IN SPECIAL NETS as they see it & transport the nets to ON- LAND barrels used to contain the oil. This could keep the coastal areas clean (including delicate estuaries) while waiting to fix the pipeline. The pilots would be the 1st responders to this tragedy BEFORE the globs' size is reduced by wave action.

Jun. 14 2010 11:32 AM

How about using hair donated from salons and barborshops to soak up the oil, even have a hair "cut day" so everyone can contribute their hair. Bundle it somehow maybe in mesh bags to keep it contained.

Jun. 13 2010 07:47 AM
Ben Cohen from Boca Raton, Fl 33433

Pass an electric current thru the oil spill with intention of making it magnetized. Have a low flying helicopter fly slowly over the oil spill with hte opposite, magnetic attraction in order to suck the oil up, collect and contain it, and then dump it into awaiting nearby oil tankers. Then enlarge this if it works with many many planes while BP works on stopping the spill.

Jun. 06 2010 07:55 PM
Joe Poole

"Sink the Slick, . . .
Least Damage in Shortest Time"

In Theory by JP, Cape May N.J.

I wanted to send you an illustrated concept for Oil Spill Surface Theory for solution.
Can't do it with this form, but at one time the Atlantic City Press did a couple of articles about a concept that I sent to the MSRC,
Marine Spill Responce Corporation appointed by the government to intercept technical concepts that were headed for the EPA
during the Prince Edward Valdee Spill.The idea eventually was developed, (conceptualy), to be a net the sieze of commercial sein and is called a
purse seine, these are large enough to sail a ship into, my development had 4-6 foot boom borders and the net was a fine net
and would contain a large spill while it can be pumped out.

It was rejected by the MSRC, but they would not tell me why, I told them that wasn't the way to develop technology,
if I don't know why it isn't acceptable, then how can I improve it. They told me that they did not have to answer that question.

Anyway my theory at this late date saving as much as possible is spraying the slick with concrete powder,, theoretically
it would sink the oil where it would ball up on the bottom and roll into the surface where it can be picked up in globular balls.

Jun. 05 2010 12:08 PM
raymond from 36 ceadr ave elizabeth nj

if the oil is shooting up it must be very deep into the ground so if u can dig to the midddle of the hole to cover the inside stoping it from shooting up u can then start filling up the top will something heavy that way it wont be able to shoot up so hard and break though

Jun. 04 2010 01:22 PM
jonathan rodriguez elizabeth n.j third st downtown from ELIZABETH N.J DOWNTOWN THIRD ST.

Am jonathan rodriguez i live in eliazbeth downtown third st. the goverment should throw loads of containers and stop the oil spill fast before it gets worser

Jun. 04 2010 10:42 AM
jonathan from 070206

they should make a robot that goes allda way down n make thw whole work down ther

Jun. 04 2010 10:36 AM
Charlotte from Ohio


Drop it and let it absorb the goop, then skim it up.

Jun. 04 2010 09:50 AM
Rich from Youngstown Ohio

I have a method of cleaning the oil out of the water, but I do not who is in charge of the oil removal to take this process to, the process is very simply and could be in process within a few days, the process can remove tens of thousands of gallons a day

Jun. 02 2010 01:31 AM
Helen from Alabama from Alabama

HAY... have you not seen the youtube video of the guys presentation of oil sticking to hay? It is SO SIMPLE... and CHEAP... It makes me NUTS that they haven't begun using this idea. There have been over a million hits on this video of oil cleanup...

May. 30 2010 08:54 PM
Frederick Lepine from Ladysmith, BC, Canada

Maybe the best and fastest way to clean up that oil slick is to offer top dollar for it. Allow ships (of any size) to go in and gather it up using any method available, then BP buys it back by the gallon - at top dollar. This certainly fits the grand tradition of America, capitalism. It might even spawn oil clean up innovation in the process.

At the very least this Wild West scenario would put everyone from shrimp fishermen to engineers to welders and restaurant workers back to work. Whatever successful method anyone employs will be copied by others based on the amount of money they can pull in with it. If there are big blobs of oil out there below the surface, someone will find a way to suck it up. If it's surface skimming, someone will develop a method for it. And now that it looks like it's going to be a long term project, why not develop an industry around it?

May. 30 2010 02:17 PM
mc mills

This is an idea that could be considered in consideration with the mud injection method that has been tried but doesn't seem to have been successful. POSSIBLY if nitrogen was forced into that pipe and allowed to freeze some of the spillage just before the mud is injected it could allow time for the mud product to go in and set. I

Thanx for an opportunity to give some ideas.

May. 30 2010 02:09 PM
Burgess Rennels from Suitland MD.

Sawdust, wood chips, mulch, chopped up hay, ect dumped from airplanes like crop dusters or forest fire water tankers. Once the material is soaked with oil scoop it up, haul it away.

When landscaping companies want to prevent hillside erosion they use a machine like a chipper shreader that chops up bales of hay and shoots it out.

old newspapers can be "recycled" to make blown-cellulose insulation. Wouldn't that soak up oil?

May. 28 2010 07:44 PM

I wonder if anybody is pushing ideas they don't profit from. Has anybody suggested algae? It soaks up pretty much anything, although maybe that's only the test tube varieties.

May. 27 2010 11:45 PM
Michael from Everett, WA

I think the question that should be asked of these spill clean-up companies is, "Why aren't you in the gulf demonstrating your product(s) and cleaning up the spill?" With 300 miles of spill, you would think there would be plenty of area for them to take the initiative. Instead they fall back on sales rhetoric and complaints about how the business is tying their hands.

May. 24 2010 11:23 AM
Nan Schubel from New York

Forget about Soylent Green, check out this book.

May. 24 2010 07:54 AM

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