I’d like to share a response to my Editor’s Comments in the September/October issue and ask for whatever insights you might have on the situation.
Just read your article "Crude Thoughts". There is a 5th way to handle this situation and it involves recycling and extremely more cost effective than landfilling. We are a thermal treatment facility in Florida and I was asked by the Florida DEP at the end of April to help in finding a solution for the BP oil spill, if and when the oil came ashore. I sent them a Technology that would extract the oil from the media (sand) reclaiming the oil and leaving the sand clean to be replaced. This was also sent to various others agencies, both government and private.
This technology was developed for use in the Middle East in cleaning up the Persian Gulf. It can also be applied to extracting oil from the Alberta Tar sands. This technology can treat do up to 5,000 tons/day. Diagrams on how to attack the problems as well as costs and savings were supplied. The inventor of this technology's first words at the end of April were "Do not let them put dispersants on the spill". Here we are three months later, eight e-mails sent out to different agencies and groups, two radio shows, two lectures, and still no response.
I reiterate, I was contacted first for a solution. Putting this media into landfills, when it has recoverable/recyclable properties is a sin. I wonder why the "waste management experts" all recommended landfilling. Maybe the question wasn't directed towards the right experts.
I know neither what the technology or who the submitter is, so I’m not in any position to comment on the practicality of the suggestion. So that leaves open the last paragraph with what I take to be the intimation that the selection of remediation techniques may not have been rooted in science.
Given the risks BP faced in the project—the enormous capital and operating costs involved, not to mention the unimaginable rigors of overcoming all the regulatory and permitting hurdles involved—I cannot believe that contingency plans for cleanup were not set in stone long before the first turn of the drill … and that those plans called for the use of dispersants and landfilling.
Are there better ways to deal with similar catastrophes in the future? I hope so, and I assume that the “what do we do next time?” question will receive every bit as much attention as determining what happened. One aspect that will undergo careful scrutiny is the role of landfills as a basic element during initial response and recovery stages. So, what are your thoughts on their role in the future, and whether there are changes or improvements to make them more suitable to the task?