As I watched the news reports from the states affected by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill I would see small groups of men in what I assume to be white hazard coveralls attempting to clean tar balls of the beaches using shovels and plastic bags.
Please see the following video example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qf6zxQuPFIA
Frankly, this video showed an example of work that seems to be frustrating at the least and representing an impossible task at best.
Having lived for many years in the beach resort town of Ocean City, Maryland I well remember the beach cleaning machines the city used to keep their beach clean of the trash, seaweed and other refuse washed up by the sea. I spoke with Joe Listmann at the beach maintenance department and he spoke very highly of the H. Barber & Sons, Inc., the manufacturer of their equipment. He referred me to Chris Kelley, their company representative, whom I caught up with in Pensacola, Florida. As you can imagine, Mr. Kelley is a very busy man these days. His company has been building and shipping their beach cleaning equipment world wide for over four decades. For a slide show of the oil cleaning equipment go to: http://www.hbarber.com/videos/Sludge_Cleanup_SURF_RAKE/default.aspx
In an interview today, Mr. Kelley explained to me that his company does indeed manufacture equipment that can provide a mechanical means for cleaning beaches of tar balls and other oil residue. He was careful to point out that weather conditions can affect the effectiveness of his company’s equipment.
When asked if anyone has even tried to use this type of equipment, he stated that several contractors and local authorities have indeed contacted his company. He also stated that his company was capable of gearing up production of additional equipment at a fairly rapid speed in weeks rather than months. This ability to ramp up production is of course an important factor in the potential use of this type of equipment.
Now to the question of, does this make any sense?
It certainly makes a lot more sense to use equipment that can cover miles of beach in a relatively short period of time, especially since the beaches must be cleaned of oil continuously then to try and do it with people using shovels and picking up one tar ball at a time.
With all the Czars the Obama administration keeps appointing, how about one with the common sense to get his hands a little dirty and taking a look at mechanical means to solve this problem. Let’s use every possible solution and get the beaches and the Gulf cleaned up.
Do it now and figure out the paperwork later!