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Gulf oil spill - Is BP ignoring a green solution? Part II - Like a bird in oil
May 19th, 2010 5:11 pm ET By Carol Everhart Roper, Philadelphia Science Examiner

Related articles Gulf oil spill - Is BP ignoring a green solution? Part I

In yesterday’s column, linked at left, we talked about the product S-200, which is a bioremediation

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agent specifically designed to take oil from spills and bind it together into clumps and then feed it to a colony of bacteria included with the agent. The process takes several weeks, but during that time, the oil is not able to further pollute and at the end of the time, the oil is gone, the bacteria die off with no more food, and carbon dioxide and water is what’s left. In direct contrast to the current dispersal products being used, bioremediation agents remove the oil - dispersants simply break it up into smaller bits and spread it out in a larger area. We want to know why BP is using dispersals instead of bioremediation when the latter promises a much better result. S-200 sounded like an answer to everyone’s desires, a way to save the Gulf Coast and its wildlife and industries, but we needed to find a way to determine if these claims are indeed true. To that end, I enlisted help from three professionals – one a chemist working for the government, another a toxicologist, and the third, a biologist. Oil spills and such technology are NOT their primary fields of work, but they still have ample ability to understand the bulk of the documents we perused. All of us read through multiple documents available including some provided to us by the s-200 manufacturer, as well as spent a lot of time digging on the internet ourselves.

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We also reviewed stories related to previous spills which used this technology. As stated yesterday. 2010. Can we determine what. and compare it to the toxicity of the current kerosene-based dispersant being used? 3. there are not a lot of documents which offer decisive information.examiner.. Can we find independent evidence that this product works as described? 2.Is BP ignoring a green solution? Part II .Like a bird in oil .Philadelphia S. We had specific questions we wanted to answer: 1. toxicity there is attached to this product. None of us felt biased either towards or against the product. What exactly is BPs position on this I’m going to quote some of our conclusions – interestingly..Gulf oil spill . Page 2 of 6 V Below: NASA image of slick on May 17. and why has it dropped considering it? .. 9/4/2010 . What is the cost compared to the dispersal agent? 4.This one was http://www. each of us working entirely independently arrived at very similar conclusions. if any..

Is BP ignoring a green solution? Part II . We quote from this report’s Summary: A figure of 60% degradation within 28 days is usually taken as being indicative of a good potential for degradation in the marine environment.Like a bird in oil . Question 2. One report claimed that S-200 was as toxic as diesel fuel – which is pretty toxic .the “LC50” concentration – which means how many organisms are alive at certain time intervals after application – looking at survival or death of 50%.. The faster a product attains a low count. that these products do SEEM to work as described in the limited studies which were done.Gulf oil spill . ALL other reports disputed that finding. – and that it is a mild skin and eye irritant. instead simply putting me on a media alert email list.. anaerobic means it suffocates. but there were contradictory numbers – or typos . A high LC-50 number is good. They did conclude..but it does seem to indicate that there is some degree of toxidity . The % of Degradability of S-200C in two different concentrations was 67. I'm not saying it's very toxic.. Answer – There were a number of documents discussing this. Can we find independent evidence that this product works as described? Answer – Yes and no. 9/4/2010 . however. there was nothing definitive that we could determine other than a report provided to us by the manufacturer of a study conducted by Severn-Trent Environmental Leadership – “A GLP compliant report” titled: “A study of the Aerobic Biodegradation in Seawater of S-200C using the Closed Bottle Procedure. and what is their success? Question 1. Neither is diesel means aquatic life has oxygen and thus can breathe. It's not. which is a surfactant that's in all sorts of http://www. the more disastrous it is. Toxicity – compare S-200 vs current dispersal agents. Where have these products been used. that it looks like the stuff works but we can’t be sure because there are so few studies and everyplace is different anyhow. The 2004 EPA document (we also referenced yesterday) which talks in general about bioremediation basically says in 61 pages.) Although the subject arose in some papers. There are indeed documents which address this and other bioremediation agents but most of them conclude that there hasn’t been enough study to determine if they can work all the time in all areas.Philadelphia S.2% and 73. Page 3 of 6 addressed to BP but they have not answered.examiner. 5. From our team: “As for toxicity. A sub-concern here was whether or not the products over-use the oxygen content in the water and make an aerobic environment turn anaerobic. Those are good numbers. (Simply put . The MSDS sheet for the s-200 product states that ingesting it is non-toxic. sodium dodecyl sulfate.1%.” Obviously this could be a very important concern.. for that matter. low is bad. Their technical bulletin claimed toxicity values that were also pretty much in line with their reference toxicant.

Exactly what is the range for “practically”? … No info on Oxygen issues there.Gulf oil spill . it’s beginning to hit land now. Page 4 of 6 things we use. So.Like a bird in oil .. < At left is an image of a bird covered in oil. though. From our toxologist: “This stuff is recommended to be applied at a 1:10 ratio to the oil making it exorbitantly expensive in a spill of this size.350/tonne. But it’s also apparently considerably better. You can view that document here. I don't think it's likely they'll be pouring this stuff on the entire slick out on the seas. Anyway. One thing which screams at you is the difference in cost between open water remediation and once the oil hits land. seems more likely something to be used as part of a comprehensive cleanup effort for contaminated shorelines. and to anyone you think might be in a position to get BP to look at bioremediation. If you agree.Is BP ignoring a green solution? Part II . either. So I just don’t know. to that end. So I wouldn't say it's *particularly* toxic...” Question 4 – What is BPs position on the use of S-200 or like bioremediation agents? Well. that bird would be clean. The latest one we found was from 1999. One hopes we’ll get some sort of answers soon. Question 3. And. President Obama’s staff and Vice President Biden. I hope you'll consider emailing links to these two articles to the above. this stuff. meaning all costs shown would probably be roportionately higher today. here is an excellent summary of current dispersal agents. using in particular on coastlines.000–$294.examiner. 9/4/2010 . They did subscribe me to a media bulletin.” These figures clearly reflect the devastation that oil will cause once it landfalls. the dispersant is “Practically non-toxic”. In addition. but there would be some serious cost-benefit considerations.Philadelphia S.. and products like it.000/tonne. COST COMPARISON: S-200 is definitely more expensive than typical dispersal agents. http://www.” But one must compare the oxygen use between both the bioremediation agent and the dispersal agents to have a real idea of which is better. One example shows that in spill incidents. “Franken (1991) showed that the cost of removing oil off shore (by either dispersants or mechanical recovery) averaged $7. the EPA. whereas shoreline cleanup ran as high as $147. just a bit more than at least one competitor claims for their product. The EPA put out a document comparing multiple products which reflect costs. I have also written to the US Fish and Wildlife organization.. Depending on what the cost of such a treatment would be.. From one manufacturer’s website we see the characteristics of using Kemex – a typical dispersal agent. we’ve got emails out to some specialists who might be able to answer this. and assorted other appropriate agencies. from shampoos to toothpaste. BP is ignoring my calls and emails asking for that information. According to this Indian company’s page.

9/4/2010 . but there are some cases of salt water use.usgs.jpg http://www. Illinois • Commencement Bay. CEO..Where have these products been used. WHY IS BP ignoring this type of product? Seeing a disaster of this magnitude is heartbreaking in and of itself. What's more.Philadelphia S. S-200 required only one application. in desperation as we see the oil spreading.. verified by documents provided to me by Jim Lynn." Spain – the location of the Prestige [tanker shown at right] oil spill – Wikipedia’s article on this spill says that the ‘cleanup was a success’ but doesn’t mention products used at all.S-200 or a similar product -seems strongly indicated at the least in areas near the coastline and in areas of coast which have already seen oil landfall. Building on the success of the largest bioremediation project in history (Exxon Valdez. Also used in these following locations.. 70 miles of shoreline) and the Prestige Spill bioremediation. A dispersant agent on land is futile – it just spreads the oil more thinly over a greater area. In each case. Most of them seem to be in fresh water. Should s-200 or similar products be used on open water? We’ll look at that in Part 3. note that the EPA itself lists S-200 as an approved bioremedial agent in its voluminous report Selection Guide for Oil Spill Applied Technologies: Volume I . New Jersey • River Boyne oil spill. IMAGES: Tar chunk on beach: http://soundwaves. and what is their success? Bioremediation products have been used in multiple spills.Like a bird in oil . To see it mismanaged. But we ask again.Gulf oil spill .just to avoid spending a few more bucks . the technical mechanism and its advantages were clearly seen as our products became the premiere products used in the spill clean up. Ireland Finally.examiner. not the multiple applications required by other BP ignoring a green solution? Part II . the documents expressed extreme satisfaction with the results. • South Branch of the Chicago River.Decision Making Conclusion at this time: Use of a bioremediation agent .is nothing short of IEP. and see that such mismanagement is causing decades of damage that do not have to happen . Some of the places S-200 was used include the following information: From the IEP website: "The product has been tested thoroughly. and hopefully will have additional expert information to provide. Page 5 of 6 Question 5 .

biz/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/exxonvaldez-disaster.Philadelphia S.jpg Bird in oil: http://skyrider.jpg If you like my articles.Like a bird in oil .edu/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/01/money.examiner.jpg Money: oil spill ..jpg Blue Protozoans used in wastewater cleanup: Page 6 of 6 NASA sattelite view of spill: http://earthobservatory. 9/4/2010 .edu/msr/rawdata/viewable/ BP ignoring a green solution? Part II .gov/images/imagerecords/44000/44006/gulf_tmo_2010137.jpg Prestige sinking: please click on the SUBSCRIBE link at the top of this article to receive an email whenever a new column is posted. Tags: oil spill http://www.