Colorado company urges the use of microbes to clean up BP oil spill
By Jim Hagerty
A Colorado company led by an environmental activist claims to have a natural way to clean up the millions of gallons of crude oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico after a drilling rig, contracted by BP (British Petroleum), exploded and sank in April.
Brent Tuttle, head of Spill Fighters, in Golden, Colo., says the secret to cleaning up the Gulf disaster lies in the use of “oil-eating microbes” to free Gulf waters from further harm.
Spill Fighters says microbes can be mixed with water and sprayed directly on the spill. The result, Tuttle says, would alleviate BP and other relief groups of resorting to environmentally harmful cleanup methods.
Since the spill, which followed an April 20 explosion and sinking of the rig Deepwater Horizon the next day, millions of gallons of crude oil have leaked into the Gulf of Mexico, despite BP’s efforts to cap a well located about a mile into the ocean. Several relief efforts have been utilized, including the use of water-purifying machinery developed in part by actor Kevin Costner. Clean-up has also involved the use of dispersants, raising several red flags with the EPA.
Spill Fighters, however, says its method is safe and creates a harmless bi-product. According to the company’s Web site, scientists have found a way to harvest naturally occurring microbes, some of which decompose plant matter while others help break down toxins. Spill Fighters has access to trillions of microbes, which have been successfully tested to break down millions of gallons of oil from spills around the world.
“These microbes can be supplied immediately in large enough quantities to ‘bioremediate’ the oil that is now washing up on the beaches and in the marshes of the Gulf Coast,” the Spill Fighters’ site claims. “The microbes are simply mixed with water and sprayed on the oil as it reaches the calmer waters near shore or on shore itself. Once applied to the oil, the microbes eat it—leaving a natural waste product that is harmless to marine life. Their waste is non-toxic and can actually be beneficial to the plants and sea creatures that feed on it.”
In a YouTube video, Tuttle guarantees success in a matter of weeks and that traditional cleanup methods will do nothing to stop the environmental impact in the region.
“What they are doing now is using buoys and booms,” Tuttle said. “It’s like trying to hold up a string and trying to prevent a hurricane from hitting your house. The oil will go over it. The oil will go under it.”
Tuttle also said BP’s use of chemically-laced dispersants are part of a futile effort.
“Dispersants are toxic. They are just as toxic as the oil we are trying to hide,” Tuttle added. “I have talked to several of the companies that provide this particular solution and they say they have warehouses full of products. Microbes literally eat the oil in just days, leaving the water clean and safe for wildlife.”
Tuttle said microbes were first used to clean up a 1980s Galveston, Texas, spill and further studies and tests were sparked in 1989.
According to reports from Texas, which seem to mirror Tuttle’s claims, the cost of using microbes to clean oil spills is about one-tenth of the tradition techniques being used in the current Gulf of Mexico aftermath.
Meantime, Tuttle and Spill Fighters are urging the federal government, BP and other relief organizations to make moves toward microbe technology.
“lf we wait, we’ll just be cleaning up corpses of our precious wildlife and bailing out millions of individuals and businesses again,” Tuttle said.
More information about Spill Fighters is at spillfighters.com.
From the June 9-15, 2010 issue
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