Gulf Oil Spill Cleanup

There is more good news on the horizon! That is, if you can see the bad news from another point of view.

We’ve all been watching the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico with disbelief and horror at the sheer volumes of oil being released into the relatively pristine environment that we’ve all come to know and love. The outrageous volume of oil would turn any backyard playground into a toxic cesspool in minutes. Yuk.

But, there happens to be some things that love oil; Oil-Eating Microbes! Yes. That is correct. Microbes that have already proven their worth in other oil spills over the years. Here is a great intro video

If you Google “’Oil eating’ microbes”, you’ll find 52k hits.

Here is an article from the TIME magazine, and it’s pretty old at that.

Environment: Oil-Eating Bug

Monday, Sep. 22, 1975

Of all industrial accidents, few are messier than oil spills. Floating booms can contain surface oil and keep it from spreading while it is picked up and recovered by giant vacuum cleaners. Straw filters can be used to pick up oil that makes its way into shallow waters. But scientists have been trying for years to develop more effective methods of dealing with spills. Now one team seems to have succeeded. General Electric announced last week that scientists at its Schenectady, N.Y., laboratories have created a microbe that can eat petroleum in quantity.

The bug that eats oil is the result of nearly six years of work by Ananda Chakrabarty, 41, an Indian-born microbiologist. Like most of his colleagues, Chakrabarty knew that at least four strains of the common pseudomonas bacteria contained enzymes that enabled them to break down different hydrocarbons—the major ingredients of oil. He combined these strains into what he describes as a “superbug” that can eat oil faster than any one of the four can individually.

Tell a friend, for it’s probably time to brew up a fairly large batch of these critters!