Harrison County considers "recycling" oil and sand - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Harrison County considers "recycling" oil and sand

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -

By Steve Phillips – bio | email

BILOXI, MS  (WLOX) -  Harrison County supervisors are considering a "recycling" proposal that could make the oil clean-up on the beach more efficient. Trouble is, it's a rather expensive alternative.

You might call it an SOS, which in this case means "Save Our Sand." With the current beach clean-up, a lot of excess sand is headed to the local landfill, mixed in with the oil patties.

A new and expensive separating device would recycle both sand and oil.

"We have not been real favorable of the process, because they're getting entirely too much sand," Sand Beach Director Bobby Weaver told supervisors on Monday morning.

Harrison County's sand beach director is concerned about tons of excess sand being removed from the beach during the ongoing efforts to scoop up and remove oil patties from the shoreline.

Engineer Bobby Knesal is working with a company that has a patent-pending process that uses a large machine to separate sand and oil.

"Most of these companies have these centrifuges that separate things. But this goes another step. It actually re-processes the oil, breaks down the molecules into a state that can actually be pipeline grade refinery. And sent to a refinery to be re-processed," Knesal explained to county supervisors.

Right now, all of the excess sand that's picked up with the oil is placed in dumpsters and eventually disposed of in the local landfill.

The machinery being considered would virtually eliminate this waste disposal step, and recycle those materials instead.

"It would really be a positive financial impact for BP also, because they wouldn't have to use as many workers to pick up the oil," said Supervisor William Martin.

Knesal proposes staging eight machines along the 26 miles of beach. The separators could replace hundreds of workers, since heavy equipment would be used to get the sand to the processors. And it doesn't come cheap.

"You're looking at a range of four and a half to five million dollars a month for the machines," said Knesal, "But the labor you see out there is costing about twelve to fourteen million dollars per month."

Bobby Weaver watched a demonstration of the "recycling machines" over the weekend in Alabama. The machines are still being tested and there's no word yet on whether BP would pay for the equipment.

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