Gulf spill cleanup relies on vacuum excavators
Vacuum excavators from Greenville, S.C.-based McLaughlin Boring Systems are one of many tools helping with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill cleanup.
They have been deployed on barges in the Gulf and are being used to remove oil from the miles of skimmers located along the Gulf Coast. The oil and water mix is taken from the barge and transferred to a facility where the oil is extracted from the water and burned. The resulting clean water is then returned to the Gulf.
“We also have team members in the region working with authorities to develop specialized tools that can be used in conjunction with the vacuums to remove tar balls from the shorelines,” says Dave Gasmovic, president of McLaughlin. “Currently, the most effective method has involved a shovel and rake. Our hope is that the vacuums, equipped with this special tool, can help speed the removal of tar balls from the beaches.”
Vacuum units also are being used to remove oil from sea walls. The vacuums are equipped with a hot box that produces water up to 130 degrees Fahrenheit. The hot water can remove the oil from sea walls or riprap, and the vacuum sucks up the oil and water mix at the base of the sea wall.
“Ultimately the goal is to see how the units can help expedite the cleanup process, but still remain an economical option,” Gasmovic says.