No hair boom as part of oil spill containment
AP – Lisa Orkin Emmanuel, Associated Press Writer – Mon May 24, 4:37 pm ET
MIAMI – Like countless beauticians across the country, Ana La Bella has
had the hair swept from the floor of her salon, wrapped in plastic bags and
shipped off to help contain the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
But the boxes she sent are piling up with hundreds of thousands of pounds
of hair, pet fur and fleece in 19 warehouses spread throughout Alabama,
Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida.
BP and the U.S. Coast Guard say they are not using hair to sop up the oil,
and don't plan to.
La Bella, who has a chalkboard near the entrance of La Bella Salon telling
they are collecting hair for the spill, said she would be angry if the hair
is being collected for no reason.
"I would feel responsible for my clients' hair," she said.
The hair-for-oil effort was organized by the San Francisco-based nonprofit
Matter of Trust, which after repeated requests for comment by telephone and
e-mail released a statement over the weekend saying there had been a
misunderstanding with BP.
The hair was collected to make homespun oil boom to contain the ooze as it
invades deeper into coastal marshland.
Engineers said they concluded that using the hair was not feasible, and the
organizations collecting the hair were asked to stop doing so.
"We foresee a risk that widespread deployment of the hair boom could
exacerbate the debris problem," said Coast Guard spokesman Petty Officer Shawn
Eggert in Robert, La., at the main command center.
Mark Salt, a BP spokesman based in Houston, Texas, said the company is
using something called sorbent boom, which is made of materials that attract
oil, but repel water. The materials are placed in fabric socks.
"There's currently no shortage of this sorbent boom in Louisiana and thus
no need to consider the need for alternative products," Salt said.
Maggie Sherman, 31, was glad to have her hair donated and hoped there was a
chance it would still be used.
"In my mind, I think they should be doing everything that they can in every
capacity. There's no telling what the chemical dispersant is doing to the
environment," she said.
In its statement, Matter of Trust said the boom is there in case it's
needed, but they are asking new participants to wait for their alerts before
sending more hair to the gulf.