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Life Arts    H3'ed 5/20/10

Gulf oil spill - Is BP ignoring a green solution? Part I

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Today's announcement from BP that they have finally had partial success in capturing some of the hemorrhaging oil from the decimated Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico well is cause for some desperately needed relief. But it's only a small part of the whole story.

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Stopping the gusher and saving this environment and ecosystem is the ultimate goal, and BP has put forth a few ideas that don't inspire a lot of confidence in us, but we certainly hope for their success. However, there's still the problem of cleaning up the mess after the party's over.

To that end, BP has chosen to spray environmentally dangerous "dispersants' onto the endless gushing black gold floating on the surface of the gulf, in lieu of applying a "green' product which could clean up the oil without any toxicity - in fact, BP has now gleaned EPA approval to use the same dispersants under water - for which there's simply no data at all.

There is a green product which claims the ability to guarantee that the beaches will not be contaminated. This product, which has been tested and approved by the EPA, has been used in other oil spills around the world with good results, and is manufactured by an American company in the US, Spain and Australia.

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What is this amazing product? It's called S-200, and it's manufactured by RBL Environmental LLC of Villanova, PA, under International Environmental Products. In a follow-up to an earlier article - Gulf oil spill - potential remedy from Villanova company, President and CEO Jim Lynn corresponded with me at length and shared numerous documents which make it clear that S-200 has the potential to be the product which ends what is one of the world's worst environmental disasters.

When asked if he knew why BP dropped the ball after initially telling Lynn that they intended to contact him to look at the technology, Lynn simply said, "I do not know and do not understand."

Lynn continued, "We have sufficient material that we could ship 2 truckloads today and then keep manufacturing. We have enough materials for 100,000 gallons if necessary and can make additional if there is a need.

I testified at the Louisiana Senate committee for Natural Resources, and afterwards, held conversations with Chairman Senator Gautreaux, and a representative of BP. I left fully expecting BP to look into the technology and contact me, but I have had no response from BP.

In addition, even though the spill coordinators say that they are looking at all products for the best available technology, we have had no response from the Unified Command, Coast Guard, EPA, or NOAA concerning using S-200 on the spill. According to press reports, untested solutions are being tried. S-200 is tested by the EPA and listed on the US EPA National Contingency Plan's product schedule for use on the shorelines and waters of the US. EPA successfully used S-200 for a spill in Commencement Bay, WA on their own project."

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Lynn provided me with numerous documents which detail the way the product works. S-200 is oleophilic it adheres to the hydrocarbon molecule, causing it to aggregate and subsequently biodegrade. That means once it eats up the oil, it and the oil are gone. No further action is needed.

The difference between this treatment and the current dispersal detergents being used is of paramount importance. Dispersal agents do not eliminate the oil, they just break it up into smaller droplets which are then "dispersed' " i.e. spread throughout a wider range of ocean. With the dispersal method, aquatic life can and often is compromised. Imagine you have a cup of oil in a quart of water. Dispersal methodology means you add something like dish detergent to it and shake it up, then pour it all into a nice big swimming pool. Not a very satisfactory solution! Bioremediation, on the other hand, would mean you'd add some of the biological product to the oil in the quart, and let the bacteria eat the oil" converting it into carbon dioxide and water.

So again we ask why is BP not pursuing this solution? Well, so far we've covered the manufacturer's claim. Now we'll compare it to EPA documents and BP commentary.

In order to understand the nature of a bioremediation product, we have visited many websites and reviewed many documents, including a 61 page study of available literature done by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In this somewhat disappointing document the EPA concludes that there is a decided lack of appropriately designed scientific tests on these products" nevertheless:

From page 44:
Bioremediation products have been applied to clean up petroleum hydrocarbon
contamination in various ecosystems and under a wide range of environmental conditions. Their applications include in-situ remediation of hydrocarbon contaminated marine shorelines, soil environments, surface water, groundwater, and water, and ex-situ treatment of hydrocarbon contaminated soil (e.g., use of land treatment units or other types of reactor systems such as compost piles, biopiles, slurry reactors, etc.) and water (e.g., in a bioreactor). Bioremediation technology is typically used as a secondary polishing step after conventional mechanical cleanup options have been applied to remove free oil product.

However, many case studies have demonstrated that bioremediation can also be used as a primary response strategy, especially for the cleanup of environmentally sensitive areas that are not amenable to conventional cleanup techniques and/or low-level petroleum hydrocarbon contamination.

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Carol is a writer - The Philadelphia Science Examiner -, and the Philadelphia Freethought Examiner; a painter and (more...)
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