A Simple Solution to Oil Spills?

Darryl Carpenter, of the Florida contracting firm C.W. Roberts, recently had an interesting thought while driving to a job site: could hay be used to soak up the oil in the Gulf of Mexico? This wasn’t a random thought: C.W. Roberts has a contract to protect Walton County‘s beaches from the spill. Judging by this video, Carpenter’s idea may have some merit. C.W. Roberts’s president, Charles Roberts, wants the government to allow a 10-acre demonstration in the Gulf. “We want to be given a chance to show that this simple strategy just might solve the problem,” he says. “It’s so simple that I think it scares people.” (HT: Ken Braithwaite)[%comments]

Thus killing two birds with no stone.

The US could purchase the entire Mexican marijuana harvest and throw the bales into the Gulf.


Looks amazing - however on 60 Minutes last night they showed some video of the spilled oil and it had the consistency of thick mud, not like motor oil as shown in this video.


Aren't the best ideas usually the simplest? Of course, the next question is, what happens once the hay has soaked up the oil? You now have hay sinking into the water, still soaked with oil, or floating on top... but the oil is still there. Sounds interesting but I suspect there is more that must occur to bring the project to an ecologically satisfying conclusion.

You can find me at Life: Forward (http://LifeForward.onsugar.com) talking about women, the wage gender gap, and body image.

Steve K

If he could figure out how to use corn stalks instead of hay, every politician with presidential dreams (i.e., Congress) would write legislation mandating it.


reminds me of the strategy to soak up oil from spills using bags of human hair from hair salons - that washed hair is very good at soaking up oil. I don't know if they're using that on a wide scale though - and I would guess that hay is cheaper, or at least easier to acquire


Would the hay work in water that is full of salt, sand, etc?


The best part of this solution is in it's simplicity. There is no special equipment required to help in the effort. If you've got boat, you can help in the clean-up effort.

True, you still have oil out there in the ocean, however it is attached to something that can be hauled away. The oil is not in it's liquid, globular form -- it's now "solid" and able to be dealt with. And again, if you have a boat you can help haul it in.

I especially like his disposal idea -- burn it. Haul it to a power generator's furnace and use it for electricity.


What are we supposed to do with oil soaked hay? Just wring it out like a wet wash clothe? You might as well use a bunch of kitchen sponges in that case. I'd say that some sort of a pump might be a little more effective and efficient.


From a particularly insightful comment (not mine) about this topic on Metafilter:

"This is not a new idea. In the slightest. We see this *every* *single* *time* a spill happens. ... What these guys really don't understand is how much of a mess this truly makes. ... Most shoreline isn't beach... In a mangrove swamp, or in a wetland, all adding hay does is make a bad problem worse. But this isn't the worst thing.
... The worst thing this does is makes the oil much more mobile. ... If you want to see oil washing up from Texas to the Florida keyes, by all means, add hay to it."

The full comment, which is well-worth reading, is located here: http://www.metafilter.com/91769/Git-er-Done#3080224


Hey, I have an idea...why don't we let the market fix it.

Rudiger in Jersey

Buy a Floating Sign:
Free Petroleum, U Carry

Yes this is a valuable commodity. Let people have free access.
It is free gold for the taking.
Free markets will generate a solution if the value exists. Channel greed to productive use.


Given that piles of moist hay can spontaneously combust, and that piles of oily things can spontaneously combust, I'd say be careful where you pile that stuff when you haul it back out.



When distributed about many thousands of square miles of ocean, oil is *not* a "valuable commodity" because collecting it and separating it from the seawater takes much more energy than the oil contains.


Any idea how much hay this would take?

Hay just isn't sitting around looking for something to do. Animals eat it, and we eat the animals. Even if you could round up enough hay to soak up this spill, what would replace the hay as feed for food animals?

Grocery prices skyrocket as feed prices increase due to hay used for oil spill?

Garry W. Denke, Sr.

GD to BP plc Queen

Operators in Gulf of Mexico need to quit using old drilling mud.
They boat old drilling mud circulated out of risers to new wells.
Their engineers are against the practice, bean counters are not.

Who's culpable in Gulf of Mexico's 19 cementing blowout oil spills?
Operators, reducing costs by using old drilling mud instead of new.
Now that everyone knows what caused all 19 blowouts, who cares?

(as usual, nobody)

Passing by

"Who's culpable in Gulf of Mexico's 19 cementing blowout oil spills? Operators, reducing costs by using old drilling mud instead of new."

Anyone interested in the facts can check the MMS web site (http://www.mms.gov/incidents/blowouts.htm) and read the incident summaries (column T) in the spreadsheets for each year. The reasons have nothing to do with drilling fluids (a.k.a. "mud"). In some cases the detailed reports are also available (e.g. OCS 2007-037.pdf).


based on the previous comments, if Marijuana bales are thrown in the Gulf you will find half of the addicted people in the sea as well, so i will call it killing three birds with one stone.


Can someone please tell me how there is an oil shortage or why we are so dependent on forgien oil. when this much oil can come out of one little pipe or hole??

shannon w.

I think a good solution to soaking up oil in the ocean is by using Sham Wow in fifty feet sections ten feet wide attached to buoys floating in the effected area because sham wow is like a towel and like a sponge can take the abuse of the waves and absorb the oil too.
PS. hey killing to birds with no stone, i have a eighth of Mex. where do I donate it too to dump in to the gulf cause that sounds like a good idea too.

shannon w.

Tanveer if people are chasing Mex. into the ocean then they deserve to drown because there should be no one chasing Mexican weed. up here in the far-nor cal there is no such thing but i suppose there is a flaw in the weed plan because if we did that it would mean more smuggling over the Mexican/American boarder, but maybe that would open up trade between Mexico and the U.S. Anything for the economy.