Oil Spill Recovery Effort

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 19, 2010



ST. ROSE – A disaster recovery firm from St. Charles Parish is joining forces with a Florida company to utilize an environmentally friendly way to fight the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Representatives with Mid Gulf Recovery of St. Rose said Wednesday a unique water treatment mechanism with the ability to separate oil from water is a viable solution to the task of cleaning the oil soaked marshes of the Louisiana coast.

Mid Gulf Recovery has been contracted by British Petroleum to send machines to the Gulf.

Glen Smith, a chief executive for Mid Gulf Recovery, said the machine, developed by Ecosphere Technologies, breaks water molecules down and uses millions of tiny bubbles to lift oil to the surface and separate it from the water. Smith compared the process to what happens when a tablet of Alka Seltzer is dropped into a glass of water.

“There are no dispersants and no further pollution,” Smith said. “In fact, the mechanism produces water that is so oxygenated it has the potential to repair infected marsh grasses.”

Smith said the machine is similar to one recently introduced by actor Kevin Costner, only this machine works at a much faster pace and can process much more water.

“Ecosphere’s machine uses a 2,000-g (6,000 rpm) centrifuge and operates on top of a barge,” Smith said. “The complete machine also has a mechanism that can remove particulates and dispersants from the oil and return it for future use.”

Smith, whose company has been responding to disasters since Hurricane Betsy, said he is familiar with Ecosphere’s work in regard to water treatment.

He said Mid Gulf Recovery has utilized the technology to clean oil-infested water near Waveland, Miss., following Hurricane Katrina.

“The technology works and works very well,” Smith said. “At this point, we are just trying to determine where the machine will be most efficient.”

Smith said two of Ecosphere’s machines are readily available, but more could be deployed in the days to come.

He said the two units together have the capability to treat more than 1.8 million gallons of water a day. The machine runs off of a 300-kilowatt electric generator and would be operating 24 hours a day.

“And this is water that can go right back into the Gulf or sprayed onto the marsh grass to assist in its recovery,” Smith said. “It would be like giving the grasses a B-12 shot.”

Smith said he hopes to have the machines deployed to the Gulf as soon as Wednesday. He said Ecosphere has access to three or four more that can be pulled off of current jobs and sent down if needed.

“We spent weeks seeking out a viable solution to this problem and think we may have found it,” Smith said.

“Seeing what the oil has already done to the coast really makes you sick. We really wanted to do something that could make a difference.”