Updated: Friday, 30 Apr 2010, 6:25 PM EDT
Published : Friday, 30 Apr 2010, 5:42 PM EDT
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - The Air Force is getting involved in the effort to break up the oil spill that continues to threaten the Louisiana and Florida Gulf Coast. 24-Hour News went to the lab of a local scientist to learn more about the effort.
Dr. Gabriel Filippelli uses water and transmission fluid to explain what cleanup crews are fighting off the coast of Louisiana. With the fluid on the bottom of a beaker, he pours water onto the top of it.
"You got a slick pretty quickly. It comes up from a mile of water in less than a day,” said Dr. Filippelli.
Dr. Filippelli is the Chairman of the Department of Earth Sciences at IUPUI. He said because of the size of the leak, because it is still leaking and because of its distance out in the ocean, the best solution is simply to contain the spill.
"Eventually, bacteria and microbes and sunlight will force it to clump together, and when it clumps together, it will start sinking to the deep ocean," he says.
On the ocean floor, says Dr. Filippelli, the oil is not a threat to the coastline.
In some cases, soap-like substances called suracants are sprayed onto the slick, which the Air Force is doing now. He says it works like dishwashing liquid at home does.
"It has two advantages. It both disperses the oil into the water, plus, the soap works as a nutrient for some bacteria, which actually help consume that oil," said Dr. Filippelli.
But the slick may be too big for the soapy substance to work. Dr. Filippelli says the best bet is to contain the spill and keep it away from the coast long enough for Mother Nature to make it sink to the ocean floor.
Dr. Filippelli said to end the problem, the well needs to be capped. But it's a mile deep in the ocean, so it's tough to get done.