News / USA

US Oil Spill Draws Help from Volunteers, Inventors

A volunteer sweeps oil from a beach in Florida
A volunteer sweeps oil from a beach in Florida

Multimedia

Concern is growing about the effects of the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and some residents are taking action to try to help. Some people are monitoring the beaches, while others are devising their own clean-up solutions.

"We might as well start at the end," said volunteer Trish O'Neal. Since she retired to Perdido Key, she finds time every day to walk the beach. This day, she has a special reason for doing it. "I'm a volunteer with the federal park system," she tells a family on the beach. "Did you have any questions for me today regarding the oil?"

She is one of 35 people who have been trained by the National Park Service since oil began washing up along park grounds on Perdido Key. O'Neal talks to visitors about native birds, and sensitive dunes, but most ask about the oil. "Mostly people are wanting to know what does it look like. They don't know what the oil looks like, and it is so  [small], that we point it out to them. The other thing is: are they safe," she said.

The first signs of contamination from the spill were tar balls on beaches around Pensacola. Oily globs started appearing on Thursday, and sand on Perdido Key is now stained from oily residue. But O'Neal tells sunbathers it is still safe to swim.

"We don't have enough on our beach to be a big concern. But we don't want people to [touch it], it is a toxin," said O'Neal.

The oil spill poses a threat to fishing and recreation businesses across the Gulf. For O'Neal, the bigger concern is protecting wildlife and their native habitats. "It's for the animals. And the animals, you can't replace them if they are gone forever. The beach will return," she said.

Many other residents along the Gulf coast share that concern for the future of the region. Some are taking action, by cleaning up portions of beach by themselves.

Even actor Kevin Costner is getting involved. The star told lawmakers in Washington about a device his company has developed to remove oil from the water. "The cost of recovering a spill on the ocean is a fraction of the cost of cleaning it on the shore," he said.

While BP has now ordered 32 of Costner's machines to use in the Gulf, the actor says he was frustrated by previous responses to his idea. "My enthusiasm for what the machine could do was met with apathy. A refusal to move off the status quo," he said.

In spite of the challenges, inventors continue to share their ideas. John Galarneau has built a system called Oil Trap to collect surface oil. "We have a boom coming out this way to one side, and a boom out this way. So when the oil begins to tack in, it will be funneled and collected into these systems," he said.

Galarneau said the idea was born of frustration at the clean-up effort and the lack of equipment for the job. "I'm surprised it hasn't been done before. And this will stop the oil from going into the estuaries," he said.

Galarneau stopped in Pensacola Beach, at the start of a tour of the Gulf. He hopes to sell Oil Trap units to affected communities. He says the goal is not to make money, but to protect the ecosystem. "There are still a lot of beautiful estuaries that are going to be destroyed. If I can do anything and be a part of this I would like to see our estuaries protected. I'm an outdoorsman, I spend a lot of time in the [Florida] Everglades, fishing in the flats. This is just a devastating thing," he said.

For those who enjoy Pensacola Beach, every contribution to the clean-up effort is welcome.

You May Like

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid