Scott Smith: Oil spill contractors deliberately avoid using proper clean-up technology, thereby exacerbating oil spill disasters in order to profit


Story Transcript

JESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore.

With the increase in domestic production and the stigma of pipelines, railway companies are shipping 25 times more crude than they were five years ago. These tragedies were caused by negligence on the part of the oil and train companies, according to oil spill expert Scott Smith. Let’s take a look at some of the footage that they captured in Alabama.

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VOICEOVER: Public Herald received this footage from John Wathen, capturing cleanup of in Alabama oil spill, where a train carrying 2.7 million gallons of North Dakota Bakken shale crude oil exploded, spilling into wetlands just outside of Aliceville on November 7.

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DESVARIEUX: With us to discuss the Alabama spill and what’s behind these disasters is Scott Smith. He is the founder and inventor of Opflex technology, a reusable sponge that absorbs oil-related toxins and repels water.

Thanks for joining us, Scott.

SCOTT SMITH, FOUNDER AND INVENTOR OF OPFLEX® TECHNOLOGY: You’re welcome. Thank you.

DESVARIEUX: So, glad to have you back on.

Let’s talk more about the cleanup and the EPA’s role. Who is responsible for cleaning all of these spills?

SMITH: When there is a spill, it’s called the responsible party, and in the case of the recent Alabama spill, it’s the Genesee and Wyoming Railroad. And the EPA serves as what’s called as an on-scene or on-site coordinator.

DESVARIEUX: And right now the oil is continuing to spread, we saw in those pictures. Where is it actually going?

SMITH: Well, we don’t really know, that’s why we’re testing the water column and the water column with a technology that basically uses biomimicry to detect how the oil-related chemicals are accumulating over time.

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And if you see from the aerial footage, they’re using hoses with water to spray the oil. And when you do that, that’s dispersing it into the water column and making the problem worse.

And let me make that–you know, a very simple analogy. If you or I owned a property with a dock on the water and we spilled ten gallons of oil in the water and we got out our hose and started spraying it, we would be arrested, and we couldn’t say to the EPA and the state officials that we’re corralling the oil. Just think about that. It’s mind-boggling that you’ve got the communications guy from Genesee and Wyoming making statements that they are corralling the oil by spraying it with water. It’s just–they’re not using any technology, let alone the best available technology.

DESVARIEUX: You’re going to have people watching this saying that, obviously you have a product that aims to contain oil spills, and you’re criticizing what’s currently going on. What would be your response to those people?

SMITH: That I welcome that challenge. It’s just not–the technology that I invented is a small part of this. There are a lot of other great technologies out there in this country, despite the disasters, has not prepared to deal with the disasters. And for 40 years, all the new technologies, not just mine, are being blocked because the stakes are so high with these oil spill contractors.

DESVARIEUX: What you mean by that, the stakes are so high?

SMITH: Well, there’s a lot of money made in the oil spill contracting business. There’s a lot of money made in this particular case by the railroad. So just one data point. In 2008, there were 9,500 cars of oil moved by the rails. In 2012, that’s 236,000. In 2013, there will be over 400,000 railcars moved by the railroads. And that’s pretty significant when you think about it.

And what I mean about how this is working–and, you know, I saw your interview with Peter Buffett and I happen to agree with him. His book on The New York Times bestseller list, he quotes Albert Einstein and said, you can’t–Albert Einstein said you can’t solve problems with the mindset that created it. So that’s what’s going on with this oil spill business, whether it be the railroads, the oil companies, and the network of contractors.

DESVARIEUX: Yeah. We actually haven’t interviewed Peter Buffett yet, but we do aggregate some other interviews on our site. But we’d love to have Peter Buffett on (putting out the invitation). Well, we certainly welcome you guys come and join us in-studio.

Thank you so much for joining us, Scott.

SMITH: You’re welcome.

DESVARIEUX: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

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DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


Scott Smith

Scott C. Smith, Founder & Inventor of OPFLEX Technology, is a Harvard Business School graduate living wherever there is oil and toxic chemicals to filter from water and has been involved in over 20 patents. His creative and environmentally responsible vision for his company is setting new standards for Low Carbon Impact (LCI®) solutions not only to filter oil and other related contamination from the Worlds’ waterways, as endorsed by BP in the Gulf of Mexico in a 2010 USA Today Article, but also setting unprecedented standards to fingerprint and detect oil and related toxic chemicals in the water column.  Mr. Smith has invested his life and over $25 million in developing and commercializing the Open-Celled OPFLEX® Technology,  which is based on biomimicry of the human lungs with the Open-Cells of OPFLEX behaving as the Alveoli of the human lungs, but only breathing contamination and exhaling clear water 1 drop at a time.  Mr. Smith has firsthand experience on the ground in many disasters which include the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Dalian China oil spill, ExxonMobil Yellowstone River oil spill, Costa Concordia disaster in Italy, ExxonMobil Mayflower, AR diluted bitumen "Tar Sands" oil spill, Gowanus Canal ongoing oil spill in Brooklyn, NY, Lac-Megantic, Quebec Bakken oil train disaster, and recently the Aliceville, AL Bakken oil train disaster.