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Company wants more active role in helping with Gulf oil spill

POSTED: July 27, 2010 11:11 p.m.

One Gainesville company providing spill-response products to the Gulf of Mexico could do more to help with cleanup efforts — but BP officials aren’t biting.

Gainesville’s MyCelx Technologies has two distributors operating out of the Gulf in Panama City, Fla., and Orange Beach, Ala.

These locations have deployed the MyCelx Versimat product — large yellow mats that absorb oil using a specialized polymer.

But another MyCelx product, not yet in use for this spill, could provide further help.

“I think the marshes in Louisiana are in the worst shape, and that’s where the most activity is,” MyCelx CEO Connie Mixon said. “But they have not yet really settled on any new technology there. They’re just using the same technology they had or that had been used in the past.”

According to Mixon, the current practice — using vacuum trucks to suck up oil from marshes and then taking the water off site for treatment — is inefficient and costly.

The MyCelx on-site treatment system would allow the water to be treated on the barge and released directly back into the ocean, saving money and time, Mixon said.

“Our solution is much, much cheaper and environmentally sound,” she said. “It’s been used and used in many different applications and many different areas of the world. Why we can’t get them to pay attention is beyond me.”

She said she’s also heard that BP may have used the partial shutdown related to Tropical Storm Bonnie as an opportunity to re-evaluate some of its contractors.

“I’m hearing from my distributors that they kind of used that as a broom to sweep out contractors that maybe were ready to leave anyway because they’re just too frustrated,” Mixon said.

Cleanup efforts have also slowed down across the board, as the oil well is capped and the beaches are looking cleaner, Mixon said.

“They go into panic mode when oil’s washing up on the shore, and then when it’s not, they just retreat, and they don’t order product,” she said. “They don’t let you deliver product, so you are very much at their mercy.”

She said the public is tired of hearing about the spill, and outrage in general is dying down. Nevertheless, cleanup is going to continue for a long time.

“At some point, they’re going to have to keep doing the cleanup,” Mixon said. “So, I truly believe that we will continue to have a place in the cleanup.”

She said MyCelx may even be able to expand the Versimat product’s deployment to Mississippi and Plaquemines Parish in Louisiana. BP may even get on board with the marsh cleanup product as well.

“They’ll get weary of paying exorbitant amounts to have very little oil carried off and a lot of water,” Mixon said. “And they will start being more rational about how they look at those sorts of technologies.”

But when this might happen is still up in the air.

“Everybody is at the mercy of what they’re looking for at that moment,” Mixon said. “Depending on where the oil is or what their hot button is at the time.”



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