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

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license 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.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid