Zebulon, N.C. — 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.
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."