Opflex® Technology Effective Removing Spilled Tar Sands Oil and Detecting Bitumen and Related Solvents in Water Column

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During the Earth Day town hall meeting in Conway, AR, at the Faulkner County Natural Resources Center, Founder and CEO, Scott C. Smith, gave a keynote address revealing preliminary results that the water column testing throughout Lake Conway showed positive readings for spilled Canadian tar sands oil and related solvents.

Fingerprinting the Water Column ExxonMobil Mayflower, AR Oil Spill

The presence of spilled Canadian tar sands oil or bitumen in Lake Conway appears to be from the March 29, 2013 ExxonMobil Pegasus pipeline rupture. ExxonMobil has stated that an estimated 28,200 barrels (1,184,000 gallons) of oily water spilled into the Mayflower, AR neighborhood. The oil initially flowed into the storm water drainage system that flows into the Cove portion of Lake Conway as documented by the video footage presented by Mr. Smith. Water in Lake Conway ultimately flows into the Arkansas River.

In his presentation, Mr. Smith showed videos and photographs of his onsite demonstrations of the efficacy of the OPFLEX® Technology removing tar sands oil from water “downstream” of the Pegasus Pipeline spill. One demonstration was for ExxonMobil’s operations personnel after Mr. Smith had several meetings at the ExxonMobil unified command center.

During the Earth Day presentation, Mr. Smith noted that OPFLEX® Technology was used and proven by BP in 2010 Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon. BP’s endorsement of OPFLEX® Technology was reported in a November 15th, 2010 USA Today cover story. OPFLEX® Technology was the only new technology used to remove oil and also recover oil via recycling. It was the only new technology that removed oil, was re-cycled, and re-deployed by BP out of the 43,000 ideas submitted.

“ExxonMobil rejected free samples of OPFLEX® Technology that could have significantly reduced the amount of oil and related solvents that are now in the Cove portion of Lake Conway and appear to be moving downstream in the water column towards the Arkansas River,” stated Mr. Smith. “OPFLEX is re-usable and the tar sands oil can be quickly recovered from the water to go to the refinery and the needless filling of landfills can be avoided.”

Additionally, Mr. Smith presented how the same technology can be used to fingerprint oil and other chemical pollutants in the water column in the wetlands, lakes, creeks, rivers, and streams. Mr. Smith presented a map of the Lake Conway region and sites where the OPFLEX® Environmental Indicators were deployed to fingerprint the water column. After being submerged to varying depths within the water column, pieces of OPFLEX® were removed, placed in sealed containers, and sent to a qualified laboratory for testing.

Mr. Smith shared with the audience that preliminary data show presence of solvents and other chemicals used to transport tar sands oil which include barium, benzene compounds, methylene chloride, phananthrene, and naphthalene compounds. It is important to note that all of these chemicals are not found naturally in the water column of Lake Conway. OPFLEX® Environmental Indicators placed farther downstream from the Shari Campbell Bridge over Palarm Creek, tested positive for some of these chemicals as well indicating spilled oil from the Pegasus Pipeline evaded ExxonMobil’s clean up system.

Mr. Smith stated, “The key point is that our technology can fingerprint the water beneath the surface and above the bottom (the water column). Some of the tar sands oil and other heavier crude oils contain asphaltenes that are complex heavy molecules that sink.” In order to pump these heavy molecules, solvents that include benzene related compounds, methylene
chloride, and solutions containing barium are used. Mr. Smith explained, “Many of these chemicals are heavier than water and sink beneath the surface and when it rains or water from the dam is released, these chemicals freely travel downstream beneath the surface in the water column. The testing must include protocols for detection in the water column of known toxic chemicals.”

Additionally, Mr. Smith noted that some of the OPFLEX® Environmental Indicators deployed in the water column were removed by vandals, but a sufficient number of indicators survived for testing.

Mr. Smith plans to hold a press conference once the final data are available from the laboratory, analyzed, and assembled in a report.


If you would like more information on this topic or would like to schedule an interview with Scott Smith, please contact Glenn G. Wattley at (617)851-5237 or gwattley(at)opflex(dot)com.

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Glenn G. Wattley
Opflex Solutions
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