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Update one, June 5, 2010: One of the most important questions that would have to be addressed is whether or not wildlife would attempt to eat the polymer. Even though it is described as non-toxic, we would obviously need to know if ingestion by fish or birds etc. could cause more harm than the benefit of its intended use. Article posted at this link says the polymer would smell and taste funny and would most likely be avoided by animals - http://www.oillift.net/Oil-Spill-Clean-Up-is-one-big-Proven-Money-making-Conspiracy.html
June 4, 2010: Deeply affected by the on-going oil spill crisis, along with the poor organization and mobilization to stop it.
I reside in Canada but am American-born. I have wonderful memories of a family holiday on the Gulf in years past. It is a magical place.
I have come across interesting information on products called polymers that when sprinkled onto floating oil (and gas, etc.) - turns the liquid into a floating solid mat.
Logic would seem to dictate that solidified oil cannot foul birds and other wildlife.
Win McNamee, Getty Images
The polymer is reportedly non-toxic, EPA-approved, will float indefinitely, absorbs 10X its weight, lessens gas-off that makes workers sick, does not absorb water, can be burned (and apparently even land-filled.)
(*I also love the potential of Kevin Costner's vacuum/centrifuge machines that he is willing to donate to the clean-up effort. The largest machine can process more gallons of sea water per minute, separating the oil from water, apparently, than oil is gushing out of the broken underwater pipe.)
Should mention that I am not affiliated with any company in any way.
When I couldn't find a Canadian inventor story I was looking for, I came across the idea of these polymers, along with U.S.-based RTASCo; I spoke with Mel James (http://www.rtasco.com/; ph.: 405-455-5166).
He says his product- Aqua N-Cap - is/was being looked at by three organizations under contract by BP.
Picking the solidified mats up out of the water would seem to be a challenge to be addressed, along with what you do with it after that.
To dispose of it, James says one idea is to have a lot of floating incinerator barges out on the water
to burn the oil/polymer mats. I say that is a waste of energy that we should be able to recoup - truck it
(or ship by train) to energy-generating plants instead, if possible.
Seeing fouled birds and the fouled habitat so vital to an entire way of life down there, can't help but wonder if this solidifer shouldn't at least be one of the tools in the toolbox.
I filled out one of Deepwater Response's web-based forms for product suggestions today, but that will take way too long to get any kind of response, so, thought to e-mail the above to Billy Nungesser, President of Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, along with CNN's Anderson Cooper, too.
Many, many people with you all in spirit.
I am Billy Nungesser's newest fan and cheerleader.
P.S.: Mr. James requested that I let him know if I write anything about his product, so I CC'd the above to the e-mail address he gave me - email@example.com - he says so that his sales team can follow. I have no problem with that.
He shared his regret to me that it is unfortunate the circumstances by which his company might end up doing well. Wrong way to look at it.
His and other innovative companies should be feeling up that maybe they can help!