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Last line of defense

By Staff | May 19, 2010

To the editor,

Having personally assisted with attempts to remove crude oil from the sandy beaches of Cape Cod in the 1970s and knowing it is an almost impossible job, we at PURRE are looking outside the box for means that might work as a "last line of defense" on all of our beaches.

Take it from me, with any wind and surf, the "floating booms" that seem to be the federal and state governments’ only line of defense will not work. They will help control movement on a calm sea to an extent but become mostly useless once the wind picks up.

You can see that the crude oil is already past the multiple booms south of Louisiana and into the bay areas and beaches, and if you noticed in the newsreels the estuary waters were mostly calm.  If you saw the news tape of the Haz-Mat crew hand-shoveling the oil from the small barrier island south of New Orleans, you can see what an endless effort it will be.

As on Cape Cod in the 1970s, all of the volunteers felt really good knowing we helped and did all we could, but frankly it was never enough – the oil and residue was there for almost a decade.   

It is my feeling that Sanibel — and all of Florida — needs to take action to protect herself with a "last line of defense" so if any oil gets through the booms, at the very least, we can make a valiant effort to keep the oil off of the sand.

Once the oil gets pulverized by the surf and into the sand, it will take years to clean up.

I have personally talked in depth with Darryl Carpenter, Vice President of C.W. Roberts, Inc. about this solution and I am convinced it will work. All C.W. Roberts is asking for is one square mile in the offshore spill area to prove it will work.

If it works, and I think it will, we will then work directly with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and all related State and Federal agencies to come up with a process to use this solution in the near beach zone with “rapid removal” as a last ditch effort to protect our beaches.

Michael Valiquette

PURRE Water Coalition Chairman