Vacuum pumps could remove oil from Gulf - - The News for South Mississippi

Vacuum pumps could remove oil from Gulf


By Jessica Bowman – email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - As oil continues to spew from the oil well in the Gulf, the owner of a Gulfport company said she has the answer that could help stop the oil before it reaches our beaches.

Suzanne Huber has been working with large vacuum equipment for more than 20 years. She said this type of equipment has been proven to remove oil from water. And the procedure was even used during the Exxon Valdez spill.

Suzanne Huber owns and operates Keith Huber Incorporated in Gulfport. She has made proposals to BP officials trying to get tanks, like the ones used in her business, approved for use to vacuum oil out of the Gulf.

"The best way to use all equipment is in a concentrated area, which is always as close to the well site as possible, or closest to the booms where the oil is being concentrated and collected, or unfortunately on shore," Huber said.

Huber said one single King Vacuum pump can collect more than 300 gallons per minute, not only on top of the water, but also beneath the water's surface.

"The King Vac has a liquid ring pump. It has been approved in the petroleum industry because it uses water to create a vacuum, which is better when you're using with explosive materials."

The vacuum method can be used off shore by loading tanks onto a barge.

"One scenario is to take a single vacuum pump, King Vac vacuum pump, and engine and 16 tanks that are 4,000 gallons each. Two operators can run it."

This ideal method of using two operators could suck up about 64,000 gallons per hour. Once oil is vacuumed through the hose and collected in the tank, the process doesn't stop there.

"We can also take a single piece of vacuum equipment, either pump into a barge or either pump into tanks that can be off loaded and onto the shore and then de-watered, disposed of on shore and taken to recycling centers, for example, or back into the refineries."

A smaller portable unit has already been used in Grand Isle, Louisiana to do the same type of method Hurber is proposing to BP officials.

"We need this type of equipment out there, not only today, but yesterday, and 49 days ago."

Hurber said if the oil does reach our shoreline, mobile units can be used to clean up along the beaches.

Huber stresses that with one pump and a three inch hose, 64,000 gallons can be vacuumed in one hour. A hose used offshore could be much larger than three inches, which would bring in a greater volume.

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