Once all the oil from the Gulf spill has been skimmed, mopped and soaked up, workers are left with one question: where to put it all? As The NewsHour's Tom Bearden reports, even though oil cleanup is monitored extensively by BP and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), not all Gulf residents are satisfied with the process.
First, booms and other cleaning equipment are pressure-washed and sanitized with bleach to remove all the oil. The oil and water mixture that was cleaned up is separated by machines; the oil is made into fuel, while the water is sent elsewhere to be treated. The EPA doesn't classify oil waste as hazardous, but it is testing the material and making BP test the waste weekly to make sure that more dangerous material hasn't been mixed in.
Anything that came into contact with the oil, such as workers' uniforms, gloves and cleanup materials, are sent to industrial landfills that have heavy liners and systems to collect and monitor seepage. Even though landfill owners and workers have assured the public that the waste storage is safe, many residents aren't convinced and complained so loudly that BP decided not to store oily waste in their landfill.
"There's nothing to indicate this waste is anything other than non-hazardous." - Mike Mccnulty, Waste Management Coordinator, BP
"Oil itself has some toxic components, but the oil that's reaching the shoreline has largely been weathered. It's gone through evaporation processes, biodegradation processes, dissolution processes." - John Pardue, professor, Louisiana State University
"I think it was a slap in the face to folks in Harrison county. BP dumped their waste on our beaches, picked that waste up, and haul it less than four miles north and place it in our ground and our landfill." - Marlin Ladner, Harrison County, Mississippi, supervisor
"Look what they have done. Why would we trust them? I mean, there have been failures up and down the line at every level." - Casey Demoss Roberts, Gulf Restoration Network
1. Where does your household trash go?
2. What are some methods workers are using to clean up the Gulf oil spill?
3. What do humans use oil for?
1. According to the video, why does the EPA say that the oil being cleaned up from beaches is a non-hazardous substance?
2. If you were one of the residents who lived near the industrial landfill where oil waste was being dumped, how would you feel about it? Why?
3. What measures can people take to reduce the amount of waste they put in landfills?
4. Do you agree with the way the Gulf oil cleanup is being handled? Why or why not?
Lesson Plan: Capping and Cleaning Up The Oil Spill :
Graphic: Where the Oil Waste Goes:
Obama and BP Set Up $20 Billion Fund for Oil Spill Victims: