Current federal EPA standards dictate that any oil separating device must be good for 15 parts per million. As a practical example, if you have a fishing vessel or merchant ship, you will be generating oily waste in your engine room as a result of running your machinery plant. The oily waste that collects in the bilges of the ship can be processed by an oily water separator and the effluent discharged overboard (50 miles from shore) as long as it meets that 15 ppm standard.
How to quantify 15 ppm? You'll have to trust us on the math with this one but picture a 55 gallon drum. Now picture dropping a half-teaspoon of oil into that 55 gallon drum of water. That's approximately 15 ppm.
So, why do we bring this up? It is because the federal government is treating this 15 ppm standard as sacred and because of bureaucratic inflexibility it is unnecessarily hindering the spill clean-up effort.
After making a brief stop in Norfolk for refueling, U.S. Coast Guard inspections and an all-out publicity blitz intended to drum up public support, a giant tanker billed as the world's largest oil skimming vessel set sail Friday for the Gulf of Mexico where it hopes to assist in the oil-cleanup effort.
The Taiwanese-owned, Liberian-flagged ship dubbed the "A Whale" stands 10 stories high, stretches 1,115 feet in length and has a nearly 200-foot beam. It displaces more water than an aircraft carrier.
Built in South Korea as a supertanker for transporting oil and iron ore, the six-month-old vessel was refitted in the wake of the BP oil spill with 12, 16-foot-long intake vents on the sides of its bow designed to skim oil off surface waters
The vessel's billionaire owner, Nobu Su, the CEO of Taiwanese shipping company TMT Group, said the ship would float across the Gulf "like a lawn mower cutting the grass," ingesting up to 500,000 barrels of oil-contaminated water a day.
But a number of hurdles stand in his way. TMT officials said the company does not yet have government approval to assist in the cleanup or a contract with BP to perform the work.
And do you want to know why they haven't received government approval. Because the vessel's oil separating ability does not meet the 15 ppm standard?
TMT also paid to fly in Edward Overton, a professor emeritus of environmental sciences at Louisiana State University, to get a look at the massive skimmer.
Overton blasted BP and the federal government for a lack of effort and coordination in their dual oil-spill response and made a plea to the government to allow the A Whale to join the cleanup operation.
"We need this ship. We need this help," Overton said. "That oil is already contaminating our shoreline. We've got to get the ship out there and see if it works. There's only one way to find out: Get the damn thing in the gulf and we'll see."
Mr. Overton doesn't understand how things work with the Obama regime. You pass legislation willy-nilly to find out what's in it. However, in the face of a slow-motion environmental disaster, every single "i" must be dotted and every single "t" must be crossed before any effective action can be taken.
Obama's Gulf oil spill is becoming replete with these stories of oil containment/capturing/processing items that just aren't quite good enough for the federal government's liking.
Go on over to Left Coast Rebel, here, where KOOK has another heart-warming story of actor Kevin Costner and his brother who have developed a centrifugal separator that has been denied usage in the clean-up effort because they too just don't measure up.
Team Obama: When 99% effective just won't do.