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Use of hair booms discouraged

Sun., May 23, 2010

Workers place an oil boom into Caminada Pass after a current pinned it against a pier in Grand Isle, La., on Saturday.  (Associated Press)
Workers place an oil boom into Caminada Pass after a current pinned it against a pier in Grand Isle, La., on Saturday. (Associated Press)

Officials say commercial product is more effective

BILOXI, Miss. – So much for that hair idea.

The Unified Area Command – state, local and federal authorities and BP – has deemed hair booms insufficiently effective at soaking up the oil still gushing from a broken pipe a mile below the surface of the Gulf.

The officials are asking people and organizations not to use hair for that purpose, even as an ooze of oil washed into delicate coastal wetlands in Louisiana.

The hair-boom suggestion, submitted to BP as an alternative for containing and recovering the oil spill, was judged not feasible after a technical evaluation.

In a February 2010 side-by-side field test conducted during an oil spill in Texas, commercial sorbent boom absorbed more oil and much less water than hair boom, making it the better operational choice. A “sorbent” is a material used to absorb liquids or gases.

“Our priority when cleaning up an oil spill is to find the most efficient and expedient way to remove the oil from the affected area while causing no additional damage,” said Charlie Henry, scientific support coordinator in Robert, La., for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “One problem with the hair boom is that it became waterlogged and sank within a short period of time.”

More than 1.46 million feet – that’s more than 275 miles – of containment boom and 560,000 feet, or more than 100 miles, of sorbent boom have been deployed to contain the spill.

Meanwhile, federal officials and scientists have been working with BP engineers on the review of the various operations, procedures and contingencies that will be used during the “top kill” attempt expected to start Monday.

Crews plan to shoot heavy mud into a crippled piece of equipment atop the well to stop the crude that has been spewing into the Gulf at 210,000 or more gallons a day since the April 20 explosion on drilling rig Deepwater Horizon.

Engineers will follow the mud with cement at the well to permanently stop the oil.


 

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