posted on May, 30 2010 @ 03:42 PM
I don't know if the hydrocarbon-eating microbes have changed markedly in the 20+ years since I dealth with these things. I will tell you what I
know as applied to back then. [insert wavy lines] back....... back......
These microbes require[d] somewhat precise environmental conditions to survive, let alone to do their job. For instance, when I was managing
contaiminated soil cleanup, we had to run plastic pipe through piles of hydrocarbon-soaked soil, and maintain a fair amount of heat within the piles.
We'd often cover the piles with black plastic, and they had to be aerated -- turned over -- fairly frequently to keep the air/oxygen content high.
Here in the tropics, the heat is plenty to cause ambient microbes to eat hydrocarbons. I've found that if I have a plastic fuel container and it
is completely filled, all the way to the brim, no air, then it will keep for a very long time, even without fuel stabilizer. That reinforces to me
the need for air/oxygen as part of the process for the microbes to work.
I think it's possible that microbes might survive for a period on top of an oil patch/slick, but I don't think conditions would be met well for them
to reproduce and consume the slick. I further think that BP has shot the whole area in the foot several times over by applying underwater and the
tthousands of gallons of dispersants above water. I believe that is producing a 'mousse" of oil/water that is very thick, often submerges, and
absolutely resists mitigation. I think BP did so to reduce the perception of oil, rather than cleaning it up. Likewise, the resultant goo from the
dispersants now probably resists skimmers also, as those machines work on surface oil.
I don't think microbes are the answer. I think it's possible that they might work to some degree in slow or stagnant water with floating oil, but
one thing is certain......... they surely can't hurt anything, as long as somebody doesn't invent a Monsanto-like franken-microbe.