Guzzler Equipment is in Position to Help with Massive Gulf Oil Cleanup

As the enormous oil spill teases the Gulf coastline with its threat of environmental disaster, hundreds of industrial vacuum trucks manufactured and serviced by Guzzler Manufacturing are poised along beaches to help with anticipated cleanup efforts.
The 3,000-gallon, multi-service trucks generally are sent to construction areas, factories, and other high-traffic places. However, for the past six weeks, hundreds of them have been positioned along bayous, inlets, and delicate marshlands. The Guzzler vacuum trucks are in the hands of local contractors, many of whom are being paid by British Petroleum (BP) to sit and wait for cleanup work, said Tony Fuller, Director of Industrial Sales for Guzzler.
The company, a subsidiary of Federal Signal Corporation, has positioned employees throughout the Gulf Coast region to assist local contractors. Company officials watched closely as the environmental disaster unfolded. BP and others responsible for the massive oil leak hope to have a portion of the oil flow redirected to a drill ship on the surface, but that still leaves massive amounts of oil drifting in the Gulf of Mexico—and it provides a ready target for the team of Guzzler trucks and operators.
As the largest manufacturer of vacuum equipment in the world, the company has had experience dealing with massive cleanups, according to Fuller. Although the company has no specific outline for disaster help, it has extensive real-world experience. Guzzler trucks were instrumental in the colossal cleanup after Hurricane Katrina and with flooding in the Midwest, Fuller explained.
It is too soon to tell when the oil slick in the Gulf or the huge plumes of oil that are still deep below its surface will come to shore or where the trucks will be needed most. In the meantime, people have been playing a frustrating but necessary game of “wait and see.” Fuller explained that the Guzzler equipment is perfectly suited for maneuvering into areas such as bays where hoses can pick up globs of oil. The Guzzler trucks and equipment can skim delicate marshes, providing important cleanup in some of our nation’s most vulnerable coastal areas.
“As the largest manufacturer in the world of vacuum equipment, we have the lion’s share of business in the Gulf Coast region,” Fuller said.
While oil is certainly different from other sewage or other liquid waste, the trucks need no special adaptation for sucking up the oil when it comes ashore, he explained. “The machines are designed to suck up any liquid. They will be sucking up oil and water, and they require no special filtering system for the oil,” Fuller continued.
The oil spill happened on April 20, following a blowout and explosion on the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil platform. The explosion killed eleven platform workers, injured more than a dozen others, and ruptured a connecting pipe some 5,000 feet underwater. The platform was located about forty miles southeast of the Louisiana coastline. The ruptured line has been discharging between 5,000 and 100,000 barrels of crude oil a day, making it one of the worst oil spills in history. Efforts by BP officials to capture some of the leaking oil have had mixed results. The ultimate goal will be to seal the well, but a specific timetable is as contingent upon good engineering as it is on good luck. The very first positive news about the spill came on May 16, when a mile-long tube was inserted into the damaged pipe, giving BP engineers hope that they could buy time for a longer-term solution.
Scientists have said that damage to wetlands and beaches had been averted so far because of chemical dispersants and the use of booms, along with winds and tides that have kept the growing slick from moving onshore.
As soon as news of the oil spill broke, Fuller’s company started getting calls—calls from contractors along the Gulf Coast who wanted to make sure replacement parts, hoses, and other items were readily available for what they anticipated would be an enormous oil cleanup. Area contractors also wanted to make certain that their employees had proper training on the vacuum trucks. Fuller confirmed that he has had a handful of employees working throughout the region to make sure that everyone who wants to be trained for using the equipment for hazardous cleanup gets the training. In short, company employees are making sure they are available along the Gulf Coast so that when the oil comes ashore, Guzzler equipment and operators are prepared for one of the largest coastal cleanups ever recorded. Some of the Guzzler equipment could also end up on barges or platforms in the Gulf, positioned close to the source of the spill and providing a unique application for the industry workhorses.
Even with a “best case” scenario, if winds and weather keep the fluctuating oil spill from reaching delicate coastal areas, oil toxicity and oxygen depletion in the sea could cause huge problems for the profitable Gulf fishing industry. Getting as much oil out of the water is just as important as cleaning it up if—or when—it reaches shore.
Fuller explained that because the company is comprised of a relatively small group of people, it has the flexibility to respond quickly to customers’ needs, especially with a slow-moving disaster like the one lingering off the Gulf coastline.
“We don’t really plan other than [to] make sure we have the equipment available in case there’s a spike in demand” such as in the days after the oil platform explosion. “We are well rounded in being prepared for disaster; that is our core business,” Fuller continued.
To keep the vacuum trucks operating at their best, the company has staff mechanics available for contractors. They will work not only on Guzzler trucks but also on trucks manufactured by other companies.
The scope of the environmental disaster will no doubt play out over the upcoming weeks, if not for months or years. In May, the Coast Guard had estimated 170 boats and vessels, 7,500 workers, and 2,000 volunteers were involved in the cleanup so far. Add to that the hundreds and hundreds of Guzzler vacuum trucks staged throughout the Gulf region, and the result is an impressive response to the environmental disaster that is mounting offshore. Some of the oil will disperse, some will be collected by booms, some will drift off to sea, and eventually some will come ashore, fouling wetlands, bird sanctuaries, and breeding grounds for sea turtles, and spoiling commercial fishing areas.
The spill has taken on a life of its own, buoyed by currents and weather.             Regardless of where or when the oil wreaks its worst damage, the damage will be contained at least in part by Guzzler vacuum trucks and the coastal contractors who will be using them.

Story by Marie Elium

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