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Life Arts    H2'ed 6/14/10

British Petroleum Rebuffs Better Boom Barrier

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(This article originally appeared at Huffington Post.)

The boom material used by British Petroleum to contain the massive river of oil that it flowing into the Gulf of Mexico is not working. So, ask yourself why BP is unwilling to use a product that seems far superior to the bloated, filthy, broken "sausage" absorbent boom that is washing up along miles of sensitive marshlands on the Louisiana Coast.

Abandoned, worthless sausage (absorbent) boom

A standard 1,000-foot roll of this new product is only six inches in diameter and requires 1/20 of the storage space required by absorbent booms currently used in the oil spill control industry. It costs pennies per foot as opposed to dollars--a thousand foot roll costs $260 instead of $10-20,000 (the price is market driven). The canister which holds the boom, which is really a thin (.0005 inches) film laminate is 20 inches in length, by 8 by 8 inches and can be deployed by a small boat or by hand in sensitive marsh areas. It does not need to be hauled or stored on huge boats or Coast Guard cutters.

The kicker is that this new product, the ROC (Rapid Oil Containment) Barrier is Coast Guard approved in San Francisco, and BP has tested it on Alaska's North slope.

Here is a story for you.

After a long day on the Gulf, witnessing the destruction of bird life and marshlands, we heard a knock at the cabin door. A friend brought a guy named Kristoffer Diel to see me.

Kristoffer Diel, AMS

Diel was pissed off and had something he wanted to show me. He plopped a container that was no bigger than a small duffel bag on the table and asked what I would say if he told me there was a thousand feet of boom material in it. Diel is a licensed marine surveyor and had come across the product three years ago at a trade show and kept the canister with him ever since. After the massive and continuing release of oil into the Gulf from BP's Transocean/ DeepwaterHorizon disaster, Diel brought the product to the attention of "incident command" in Roberts Louisiana. Turns out Diel is also the District Commander of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary, so he has an "in" or two. Well, maybe not in this case. Diel was told that the ROC Barrier Boom was not approved by the Coast Guard (it is), and that it is not on the list of BP vendors.

"The testing was approved by the Coast Guard in San Francisco, and Chevron has also done testing on it," Diel said. "There's a video. Take a look for yourself."

So we did.

Diel was not finished.

BP and the government are analogous to dinosaurs. I have been dealing with them for seven years. Their approach to any change or disaster is ruled by organizational structure. They know the boom they are using will not work. It is not designed for this. I'm a marine safety officer. I don't want people dying. I don't want wildlife dying. BP is trying to hide the spill by using dispersants and it is working. I live on a boat and you are messing with my environment. Check out the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 . You are not allowed to use dispersants. It's in the water column now and there is no getting rid of it.

Heavy stuff. Did Diel want to be quoted? "Absolutely."

I mentioned the conversation with Diel to a friend in Los Angeles who invented a high-tech bird cleaning machine that has been blocked by Tri-State, the wildlife cleaner working at Fort Jackson. Elizabeth has encountered the same bureaucratic tangle that Diel described. She immediately called Glenn Murray the owner of ROC Barrier who happened to be in Alabama demonstrating his product for WKRG television with the Gulf Coast distributor, Don White, who can be seen at the end of this video.

The following video was published as a Flash video, which are no longer allowed. Here is the video link: VIEW VIDEO (in a new browser window) News

When Murray and White heard that BP was holding a town hall meeting in Houma on Friday night, they immediately drove to Louisiana in time to meet face-to-face with BP and Coast Guard representatives. We went along.

On the way to Grand Isle earlier in the day

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Georgianne Nienaber is an investigative environmental and political writer. She lives in rural northern Minnesota and South Florida. Her articles have appeared in The Society of Professional Journalists' Online Quill Magazine, the Huffington (more...)

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