We’ve all heard about the horrible oil spill in the Gulf and how it’s impacting the environment and the livelihood of millions of people around the world. A woman wrote to me yesterday to ask how straw bales might be useful in protecting the shoreline and I’ve been thinking about that ever since. Thanks Jan! I spoke with a friend of mine from college who lives down in New Orleans this morning. I’ve asked him to offer the following suggestion top anyone who would listen and who is in a position to implement the idea.
As some of you may know, straw bales are used as erosion control all the time during construction projects. They are used to form silt traps, like the one shown here. The concept is that the water is slowed down, but still flows through the bale. The straw which is netted in a web within the bale, traps the silt and doesn’t allow it to move through. I believe the same system could work for the oil that is floating along the surface of the water. If bales were set all along the coast line, they would act like silt traps or sponges and soak up the oil. If they didn’t actually soak up the oil, they would certainly slow down the water and cause the oil to accumulate at the face of the bales. This would make it thicker and easier to collect, as one of the big issues with this spill is the fact that the oil itself is thin and does not collect easily.
I hope that somebody reading this can get it in front of the right people. The woman who originally asked the question has contacted the National Geographic Society, and as I said earlier, I’ve asked my friend who lives in New Orleans to contact people locally who may be interested in the idea. Please help us get the word out and create a line of defense along our coast lines in the South. Remember, you can still go to certain areas around Valdez, Alaska and find oil 6″ to 12″ down in hand dug holes. That’s a long term disaster I’d like to not see repeated.