CHALMETTE, La. - There has been no shortage of people from around the country and the local area who want to help, in some way, with the oil leak. Many have sent in drawing and instructions for machines to stop the spill or pick up oil.
A local group of men has come up with what they call a better way to clean up the water.
They demonstrated their invention in St. Bernard, outside of the parish government complex Thursday.
The machine is a new type of skimmer that, once set up, does not require anyone nearby to run it.
"You can sit at a terminal and have several of these logged in just like you do sea buoys,” said David Carambat, the design director of Andy’s Oil Skimmers, LLC. “Right now you can go on the web and check on the status of the waves and the temperature. We can dial into these with that package."
Carambat is a boat designer who lives in Covington. He worked with Chalmette machinist Marvin Alberado and they came up with a new generation skimmer that runs off of very low energy. That energy is supplied by a solar panel that makes enough energy to run the skimmer even in the clouds and throughout the dark of the night. The wheel drum that is only three feet wide, can recover 1,000 gallons of oil an hour.
In a short time, the water that was mixed with oil from the Gulf, was nearly clear again.
"There's very little water that is collected with it so you have so much less volume to deal with," he explained.
But the demonstration of this skimmer was done in an empty parking lot just for the WWL-TV camera. The makers of this skimmer say they have contacted many government agencies.
They've also been contacted by private industry who heard about it through the grapevine but so far not one official from a government or private agency has seen it work in person.
They were hoping St. Bernard officials would have time to see it work Thursday. They've also talked to Mississippi Power and Light Company.
"They draw a lot of cooling water from the bay and if the cooling water becomes contaminated, they said they'd have to shut down the power plant.
So it's issues like that where this would be a very inexpensive stand by," said Carambat.
If there is interest, the group is hoping to mass produce the skimmers and make bigger ones to put on barges and ships. He can only speculate about the cost.
"I imagine they'll be between a $100,000 and $200,000 depending on the size. I mean, we can grow these much bigger," he said.
But first, potential customers must see the demonstration of this prototype which was just finished last night.
Late this afternoon, St. Bernard parish president Craig Taffaro said he is hoping to assemble a group of parish leaders to travel to Hopedale to see a demonstration of the skimmer in the future.