Fisherman seeks his own solution in the oily marsh

Posted: October 6, 2010 in News Bulletins

…after three weeks of waiting, waves of oil began washing into the shores and wetlands along Louisiana’s fertile coastline, one of the greatest estuary wetlands in the world. When it became clear the booms hastily assembled by BP and government officials were not doing the job, Cristian worked with other locals to organize a huge caravan of thousand-pound hay bales that would soak up the oil before it hit the beaches of Grand Isle.

“BP wouldn’t let us help,” he says. “We had to turn around all the trucks and trainloads of hay we had coming and tell them to go back to where they came from. It was a huge wasted effort that we knew could have helped keep the oil out. I had nightmares after that of not being able to do anything.”

 Cristian later got a job with a BP contractor on the cleanup, but he still feels the effort has been half-hearted and wasteful. He saw hundreds of workers on small boats using small power vacuums trying to suck oil out of the marshes, looking like kids sucking chocolate out of a straw. But this was a seemingly endless line of oily dark brown goo stuck to miles of marsh grass. It wasn’t coming out and he knew he needed to do more.

Then he heard about a non-petroleum based cleaning agent used for agricultural purposes called Evolve, which breaks down oil and disperses it in a non-toxic chemical reaction.

Cristian decided to give it a try and see if it worked on the marsh. He had sprayed it on a few small sections of marsh and had nearly gotten arrested for it. The Coast Guard let him go, he says, and said they would do independent testing.

But Cristian doesn’t want to wait for that. He says there isn’t time. “All anyone wants to do here is spray water on the oil in the marshes or sink it to the bottom and hide it like they did with the chemical dispersants. They just want to wait it out for years and years and let nature run its course. Well we don’t have years and years, and these marshes are disappearing and will be gone by then. We need to do something now.”

So he headed out to the marshes with a red bucket intent on getting samples of oiled marsh to take back with him. He wants to prove his product will work. There were plenty of cleanup boats bobbing in the waters close to the oiled shores along Bay Jimmy. Cristian powered up his 90 hp engine and motored around one island that was devoid of boats, then pulled up to the marsh grass. A stench of oil rose up from the line of brown, matted dead grass. A light sheen of oil kicked up from the boat prop close to shore. A few oiled plastic bags and ubiquitous plastic soda bottles littered the marsh, coated in thick black and brown weathered oil…

To read entire article http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/rkistner/cristian_delano_wore_a_long-sl.html

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