Microbes may enter fight against oil spill

June 25, 2010 at 4:11 PM
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HOUSTON, June 25 (UPI) -- Microbes with a taste for oil may be deployed against oil and tar balls from the gulf oil spill washing up on Florida beaches, observers say.

The oil-chomping microorganisms are part of a sand-scrubbing machine developed by a Houston company that's been trying to get oil response crews to adopt its system, The Houston Chronicle reported Friday.

"We're begging for somebody to just deploy us," Clean Beach Technologies' Bill Carmichael said, "but local entities don't know who is going to pay them, so they're reluctant to commit."

Now Pensacola, Fla., may become the company's first gulf state client, following high winds that brought severe pollution to the state's northwest beaches Wednesday.

Originally designed to separate crude oil from Canadian tar sands, the company's equipment works like a giant washing machine for sand. The detergent: microbes that naturally consume oil.

The system can cover 8 to 10 miles of beach a day, processing up to 700 tons of sand, Carmichael said.

Clean Beach demonstrated the system Thursday in Escambia County, Fla., which includes Pensacola, in hopes the county would lease the machine at a daily rate of $25,000, the Chronicle reported.

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