Oil slick : the rage of a researcher from Nice

Posté mer 22/03/2000 - 00:00
Par admin

Etienne Tillié : 'we maintain we have the solution to treat the oil of the Erika. Why are we not defied, even just for a test ?'

The oil slick is still not checked. Now, it is extended to the Gulf of Morbihan and it also threats the famous marshes of Guérande. In the face of this disaster which is increasingly huge each day, a retired engineer from the French Riviera is in a great rage.Etienne Tillié, 72 years old, goes on working as a researcher within the laboratory of 'Study of oil-mineralogy, stability and reactivity of minerals' of the Faculty of Sciences of Nice Sophia Antipolis. He had thought he had already shown the efficiency of his research, in 1978, in the Amoco Cadiz disaster. That research, led by the professor Guy Turco, the former dean of the Faculty of Sciences, allowed him to perfect a product permitting to 'trap' oil, from cheap materials (DIR, or RIW, i.e. Reusable Industrial Wastes, that have to be eliminated anyway).About the end of December, when France became aware that once more the slicks were going to soil the Coast, Etienne Tallié decided to act sharply again (two people from Nice suggested a treatment). He sent fax, letters, files, e-mails, he phoned all the people who were in charge of the fight against the scourge of the oil slick.; from the ministers to the media, going by the prefects of the different departments that are affected, the people in charge of the Cedre, and the leaders of Total Fina. Not the slightest answer.An unrecognized researcher ? A discoverer who is a bit cranck? Of course, for want of elements of evaluation, it is difficult to protest against the lack of interest Etienne Tillié faced. However, he is worth hearing. All the more because all he asks, it is to be put on the spot for a test...SN.com : how did you come to be keen on that problem of the treatment of oil slicks ?Etienne Tillié :'I am specialized in building and public works. Thus, in the early 70's, i worked on a new binder (from the grouping of cements, lime and plasters that become malleable when they are mixed with water and that harden when they dry). This binder was particular : it oozed (it rejected all excess water). Since the Amoco Cadiz disaster, I have been devoting my efforts of research to the valorization of the reusable industrial wastes. Through the 'material' branch of the laboratory of ' Study of oil-mineralogy', managed by its founder, the professor Turco, since 1967, we have been studying the integration of those RIW in the form of small balls of 'Cricaleum', and of binder with a hydraulic character, that we have called Crical.The uses are not limited to the fight against oil slicks. They affect the fight against forest fires, the soil improvements, the substratum of out of soil culture, the purification of water, etc. In the case of oil, we discovered that when we mixed the Crical with an emulsion made of oil and water, it rejected water but kept the oil that was shut up.Is your process adapted to the Erika oil, because it is a very heavy hydrocarbon ?Etienne Tillié :Until now, all the tests have been done from light hydrocarbons. For the 'gum' oil, as in the Erika case, the solution I suggested in late December was to work with small balls of Cricaleum. When they are dust removed and heated at 150 degrees, at first, (this could be easily done from a station of coating of road aggregates), those balls could be projected on the hydrocarbon slicks. They will become encysted and they will run together, as they shut up the oil.On the ground, this process would allow a neat cleaning of the beaches. In all the letters I sent, I said it was possible to have 25.000 tons of Cricaleum at disposal, in a few days (the cost is about 200 francs a ton); this quantity was enough to treat 10.000 tons of oil that had been rejected in the sea.It was said it was more dangerous to 'sink' the oil in the bottom of the sea than to have it on the coasts?Etienne Tillié :this is absolutely false. Once in the bottom of the sea, the oil will be biodegradable in a very slow way. What will not be detrimental to environment. A few years after the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, we could find again fishes and shrimps in abundance. If we could intervene from December 23, we would have pelted the slicks with Cricaleum and a great part of oil that seemed impossible to pump, would have disappeared. But I was given no answer from the authorities in charge of the operation.Is it too late to apply your solution, today ?Etienne Tillié :it is still possible to intervene to remove the slicks coming close to the marshes of Guérande, for instance. Or even to try to remove oil from rocks, by projecting Cricaleum, treated at first (dust cleaning and heating).Why did you not try to make tests on the spot, on a few square metres, for instance ?Etienne Tillié :In twenty years of research, I financially used up the means. Even if a test will not be so expensive regarding the amounts of money that are currently tied up, against the oil slick. Anyway, why are we not defied to prove what we maintain ?25 tons of Cricaleum, two planes tickets, 3 or 4 days on the spot, and means would be needed to treat and to project the material. This would represent an amount from30.000 to 50.000 francs. If it did not work, we would be ridiculous. Not only we are not challenged, but also the petroleum engineers as the authorities even do not want to hear us.'

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