Local News

Homegrown ideas to stop oil spill sprout

Posted June 3, 2010

— Ordinary Americans are coming up with solutions to the biggest oil spill in the country's history, but many say they don't think anyone is listening.

From animations on YouTube.com to illustrations on Facebook, there's no shortage of homegrown ideas for stopping the oil well that's been leaking for six weeks into the Gulf of Mexico and soaking up the mess.

One of the most popular solutions on YouTube is a video of two contractors from Florida suggesting that hay is the best way to get rid of the oil.

People have homegrown ideas to stop oil spill People have homegrown ideas to stop oil spill

WRAL News has received dozens of e-mails and phone calls from viewers suggesting solutions.

Viewer Jay Estes, of Zebulon, said that he has sent several ideas to BP and government officials but hasn't heard back. He said he thinks they are taking the wrong overall approach.

"They're trying to stop the flow of oil out. If they would stop the flow of water in, that would solve the problem," Estes said.

The official oil spill information website has a link where people can submit suggestions, and BP officials say everyone will get a reply informing them of the results.

BP says that it has sorted through more than 20,000 ideas on how to contain the spill. Engineers review the ideas and have about 250 under detailed review.

Estes said he thinks the government should start collecting ideas.

"They could hire unemployed engineers to read every one of them," he said.

Estes said he fears that BP's final solution – a relief well that won't be completed until August – won't help.

"My greatest fear is they're going to make it worse," he said. "They're putting another hole in the ground. They'll have it coming out both sides then."

With anywhere from 21 million to 45 million gallons of oil floating in the Gulf, Estes said, it's time for business and government to listen to the people.

"We the people of the United States are frustrated," he said. "I feel very helpless, and I don't like that."


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  • Alexia.1 Jun 4, 2010

    mpheels, according to a few sites I've read, BP didn't file permits to drill those wells until May 11 or 12. See:

    I saw this on BP:

    Someone clearly has facts wrong.

  • mpheels Jun 4, 2010

    I just pulled up some "old" stories on the spill... Work on the relief well started on May 2, 10 days after the well collapsed. Considering they had to get the drilling equipment in place, 10 days doesn't seem like too long to me. I do think they gave the public an overly optimistic view of the interim efforts, and downplayed the fact that the relief well is the most likely to work.

  • Alexia.1 Jun 4, 2010

    mpheels, I don't think a relief well was started right away. It was definitely an option on the table, but I think folks balked at the idea. (Likely politicians reacting to the public, you know those lawyers who went to school and are now experts on the economy, environment, and petroleum engineering?)

  • mpheels Jun 4, 2010

    "Onother one I read...... Pour massive amounts of dish detergent on the oil slicks, because it breaks down grease so well......"

    Sigh. The dispersant BP used are essentially heavy duty detergent. So yeah, the public was "right" with that one in the sense that it's already been done. Unfortunately, meBNme is exactly right. The dispersant breaks down the oil so it dissolves in the water - instead of the oil threatening animals on/near the surface, the dispersant/oil combo threatens fish and other animals living in the water column.

  • mpheels Jun 4, 2010

    paulej, it's my understanding that work on the relief well did start immediately, it just takes a very long time to drill the length of well they need at that depth in the ocean. All of the other activities have been attempts to stop/reduce the flow of oil ASAP while waiting for the relief well.

  • meBNme Jun 3, 2010

    good post Paulej

  • Alexia.1 Jun 3, 2010

    A friend of mine is an experienced engineer who has drilled wells all over the world. When the rig exploded, I called to make sure he was OK, not knowing if he was on that rig. He wasn't, fortunately. I took the time to ask him how it should be fixed. He wasted no time in saying that a relief well was the only solution. Now, this guy is extremely good at his job and paid extremely well. If he tells me this with 100% certainty, then why wasn't an effort made immediately to start drilling a relief well? You know the other experts suggested the same thing. Perhaps it is the American people with all of their "bright ideas" and sharp criticisms that has actually perpetuated the problem.

  • meBNme Jun 3, 2010

    Not to mention that a Bunker busting bomb would just stir it up. It would explode FAR below the surface

  • meBNme Jun 3, 2010

    Oil vapor would be far worse than just burning it off the surface. Youd' have the fumes, and so forth but no oily residue contaminating everything. Can you imagine the rainfall contamination if the air were blanketed in oil vapor?


  • meBNme Jun 3, 2010

    Made in USA.... are you serios?

    Turn all the oil into vapor?

    So the vapor can contaminate the air, causing major breathing problems for everything with lungs, settle on surfacesof everything from birds flying through the contaminated air, to crops, plants, the ocean, streams, lakes, and all living creatures caught in the path of the vapor.

    See, its "solutions" like this that some folks think are SOOO BRIGHT but really would be disaterous. THATS the reason so many "solutions" presented by the public are ignored!

    Onother one I read...... Pour massive amounts of dish detergent on the oil slicks, because it breaks down grease so well......

    It also MIXES with water and would kill all living sea life for MILES! Not just the ones who get covered or contaminated by oil.