WB woman: Corncobs key to cleaning up oil spill
By Eric Czarnik
Posted October 20, 2010
WEST BLOOMFIELD — It’s a favorite for the Fourth of July and the summer barbecue, but the corncob could hold the secret to cleaning up the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, according to a West Bloomfield Township business owner.
Adria Brown, a member of West Bloomfield’s Wetland Review Board, is also president and CEO of Recovery I Inc. She founded the company in 1992 in order to sell environmentally friendly products that clean up oil or chemical spills.
Brown said she was devastated when she heard about the current oil spill in the gulf, which was caused by a leaking oil well April 20. She said she thinks it will be about 20 times worse than the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill.
“You have just begun to see the damage,” she said.
But Brown’s company offers a product called Golden Retriever that she says can be a clever solution to a crude problem.
The product is a naturally treated, dried corncob that is absorbent enough to soak up oil in tainted water. The cobs can be dropped into a spill by plane or barge, and their floating ability makes them easy to collect. Later, the cobs can be collected, and a centrifuge can separate the oil from the cob so that both can be reused.
“The process is so simple because it is natural and organic,” she said.
She hopes her product will become a viable alternative to the dispersants that oil companies have been using to clean up oil spills. She believes the dispersants are poisonous for the ecosystem. “It’s declaring death to anything that touches it,” she said.
Although the Golden Retriever has not been used in practice to clean up a major oil spill, Brown said it was proven highly effective in testing done by Environment Canada in Ottawa.
Following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Brown said she has contacted British Petroleum, the Coast Guard, Homeland Security and the Environmental Protection Agency to see if she could help clean the spill. She also has been working with Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, on using the Golden Retriever.
According to Brown, she has about 34,000 tons of properly dried material ready to go, and she applauded Feeders Grain and Supply of Corning, Iowa, for doing all it can to assist. “Iowa has been our greatest supporter in locating material,” she said. “We are thrilled.”
West Bloomfield Township Clerk Cathy Shaughnessy mentioned Brown’s mission at a May 17 Board of Trustees meeting. “Everyone knows that we’re innovators in environmental protection,” she said, referring to West Bloomfield.
Even if the Golden Retriever hasn’t had its chance to work in the gulf yet, Brown said the oil spill isn’t going away anytime soon.
“They’re going to be cleaning this up for a long time,” she said.
To learn more about Recovery I Inc., call (248) 851-4849.
About the author
Staff Writer Eric Czarnik reports on Sterling Heights and Utica Community Schools, and he writes a weekly auto column. He is a Wayne State University graduate who has been employed at C & G Newspapers since 2007.
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