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Old 10-01-2015, 12:55 PM   #1
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Oil eating enzymes

The recent flooding of my bilge has left oil in places where it didn't used to be, and much of the stuff is completely inaccessible for cleaning it up.

The guy at the marina suggested that I purchase some "oil eating enzymes" and put them in the bilge, so that they will gleefully gobble up the oil.

I see that I can purchase some via Amazon (they call it oil eating bacteria, but guess it is the same thing), but just wondered if anyone had any recommendations, since there seems to be several different types available. Not cheap, but I didn't figure it would be.
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Old 10-01-2015, 01:19 PM   #2
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Don't forget fiberglass is made from oil!

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Old 10-01-2015, 02:49 PM   #3
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You're asking a big question. I'm tangentially involved in the chemical spill cleanup business and have been for years. The boiremediation of petroleum spills has been around for decades. There are two critical parameters that are not sufficiently appreciated about biorem: 1) Everything about successful biorem is site specific; 2) When successful, it takes a lot of time.

The site specific part includes everything from ambient temp to the constituents of the petroleum target: specific aliphatic/aromatic components, etc. Guys have been running around selling their particular "bugs" since the 70s. Unfortunately, their bugs may not work well or at all in a specific situation. The real way you do biorem is to collect samples from the spill and contaminated water and soil, set the samples up in a lab environment with conditions favorable to microbe growth, and let Mother Nature sort out the microbes that can thrive in the particular conditions. The duration of this process is measured in months. These guys get cultured up and when a sufficient population is present, they are introduced in mass to the spill site and allowed to go to work.

Then, the process is monitored, additional nutrients may be added, and you wait. Months, years.

The probability of canned microbes helping out your problem is slim to none in my experience. A lot of desperate oil field guys have spent a ton of money on commercial oil eating bugs to no noticable result.

BoatUS has a couple of pieces on the subject ( Oil Absorbent Product Testing : BoatUS Foundation Findings for one). Not real helpful to your situation, but it gives you the idea.
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Old 10-01-2015, 04:08 PM   #4
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The probability of canned microbes helping out your problem is slim to none in my experience..
Those are interesting comments. Thanks. I had thought that the technology was a lot further along than that, especially after all the work done on the BP spill, but guess it is not as good as I had thought.
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Old 10-01-2015, 04:13 PM   #5
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bioremediation will only crack the oil into other sludge, not get rid of it...

Best thing is to scrub down with Spic-n-span (best anti-oil soap in my opinion) and then wash out with fresh water. If you're in the water now, float some absorbent pads on the water to absorb the oil residue.

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Old 10-01-2015, 04:24 PM   #6
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.
Best thing is to scrub down with Spic-n-span (best anti-oil soap in my opinion) and then wash out with fresh water.
The problem is that quite a lot of the bilge is just not accessible. I can get the nozzle of a long wand (of a sprayer) over there probably, and can definitely hit it with a stream of water from the nozzle of hose. But scrubbing a lot of it is just not practical, although of course some areas can be scrubbed.
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Old 10-01-2015, 04:52 PM   #7
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i would spray repeatedly with Simple Green letting it sit between treatments. Then hit the area with a strong water stream. Shut off the bilge pump(s) and use oil absorbing mats in the bilge to attract and capture the oil. After removing the pads turn the bilge pump on and pump the Simple Green and water overboard. Simple Green is non-toxic.

Good luck, Howard
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Old 10-01-2015, 04:58 PM   #8
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Re: #4 - just like the military, the feds and the cleanup community were totally prepared to fight the last major oil spill (Valdez) - unfortunately, Macando differed in about every significant parameter, including the composition of the oil - so EPA wound up using the world's total supply of COREXIT dispersant to "make it go away". Dispersion is the petroleum spill mitigation practice that will get you or me hard time and major fines when used in a 5 gallon spill.

Re: #5 - given the right bugs and enough time, biorem will "digest" the hydrocarbon. The problem is time - most observers give up after a few months or maybe years - the remediation has not run to completion. Incomplete remediation leaves "sludge". In a lot of cases, the petroleum mass reduction is measured in low single digit percentages per year.
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Old 10-01-2015, 05:20 PM   #9
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It never ceases to amaze me just how much expertise in so many different areas is represented on TF. This is truly an outstanding resource.
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Old 10-01-2015, 06:28 PM   #10
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Going back on track, I've had great success with some stuff called LA's Totally Awsome (no kiddin') cleaner. Liquid concentrate. It sells for $7-8 a 20 ounce bottle at "major" outlets. Or, you can go to the Dollar Store and buy a 20 oz botlle for - wait for it - a buck. I haven't used it in the bilge, but it sure works on everything else, including my smoker. Substantially more effective than Simple Green IMHO.
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Old 10-01-2015, 06:31 PM   #11
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I have no experience with bio bugs, have not used them or seen them used. But I did hear that once they are done with the oil, they eat insulation around your wires. Can anyone debunk that? I would have loved bio bugs in the bilge of our sailboat, 4' deep under the engine and inaccessible.
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Old 10-01-2015, 06:32 PM   #12
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Forgot to add that I am in total agreement with you on the amazing quantity and quality of info that is on this board. I've lost count of the problems, questions, and screwball ideas that the TF people have helped me with.
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Old 10-01-2015, 06:51 PM   #13
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Lollygag - I'm fairly familiar with the literature and don't recall ever seeing a mention, muchless an evaluation of that concern. Given the degree of difficulty to get the critters to effectively eat the target hydrocarbon, I would doubt that the thermosets/plastics that I think are common insulation materials are susceptable. That's just an opinion, and you know about opinions.
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Old 10-01-2015, 07:12 PM   #14
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Greetings,
Mr. JW. I feel your pain with the dirty bilge. Messy bilges are MY pet peeves. I hate 'em. Have you ever considered re-filling your bilge with a cleaning solution to the previous level, waiting a period of time for a "soak" and then draining it out? Don't know if this is safe or feasible but it's a thought.
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Old 10-01-2015, 07:39 PM   #15
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Greetings,
Have you ever considered re-filling your bilge with a cleaning solution to the previous level, waiting a period of time for a "soak" and then draining it out? Don't know if this is safe or feasible but it's a thought.
Not sure how safe it may or may not be, but most certainly not feasible. I would never have believed that much water could get into that bilge without the boat sinking, to be honest. And of course the oil is at the high water mark. No way I am going to deliberately put that much liquid in there again -- not sinking the first time may have just been a fluke!

No, I have read all the responses to my post, given a great deal of thought to each of them (some more than others, to be sure), and have my plan worked out now. It involves a garden sprayer with a long wand, a garden hose with a nozzle, the proper cleansing agent, commercial oil soak pads, and a long handled brush to reach those areas where I can reach. And of course the bilge pump.
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Old 10-02-2015, 06:45 AM   #16
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"And of course the bilge pump."

AS the clean up will not get all the oil , be sure to only use the bilge pump while underway so the resulting slick or sheen can't be noticed.
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Old 10-02-2015, 11:16 AM   #17
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When I cleaned the bilge in Lollygag I used a shop-vac and put the dirty water in buckets with oil absorbent sheets on top. The next day all the oil was absorbed and the water poured back into the river.
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Old 10-02-2015, 11:22 AM   #18
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Another good trick is to put an oil sorb in the shop vac and use one as the filter.
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Old 10-02-2015, 11:26 AM   #19
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Another good trick is to put an oil sorb in the shop vac and use one as the filter.
Never thought about that! Sounds like an excellent idea.
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Old 10-02-2015, 12:09 PM   #20
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Wow! I didn't think about that either... let us know how it works.
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