Global environmental challenges
How would you clean up the Gulf coast?
In supermarket aisles, when a bottle of oil smashes on the floor, a bag of sawdust or kitty litter is hauled out to soak up the mess.
To rescue a favorite silk tie from a dribble of gravy, douse it with corn starch and hope for the best.
How to clean up oil is a reoccurring theme in elevators and Internet chatrooms across the country this week, thanks to the unprecedented, growing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico costing BP $350 million in cleanup costs so far, and threatening environmental disaster.
After a handful of failed attempts to stop the leak, there should still be an abundance of possible technologies that apply here. And now that BP and Transcocean are developing “junk shots” — pipes clogged with synthetic materials including used panty hose– these household remedies may not be so irrelevant after all.
“They are actually going to take a bunch of debris – some shredded up tires, golf balls and things like that — and under very high pressure shoot it into the preventer itself and see if they can clog it up to stop the leak,” U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Thad AllenAllen told CBS News last weekend.
In Senate subcommittee hearings on Wednesday, BP America president Lamar McKay insisted the “junk shot” containing golf balls was a highly sophisticated technology. “The best minds of the world are working on this 24-7,” he told a congressional panel, including Representative Edward Markey (D), who questioned if BP and rig operator Transocean weren’t “flailing about with no clue of how to going to get out of this mess,” despite each company being a leader in technology.
So tell us about your Thanksgiving gravy separator, and your mechanic’s favorite way to protect a garage floor from grease. There’s no time for testing, but who knows where the silver bullet that slays this growing oil slick will originate.
A man hold a plastic bag with oil from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill south of Freemason Island, Louisiana May 7, 2010. REUTERS/Carlos Barria