According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), there are two negative impacts to the environment and wildlife when an oil spill occurs: the spread of toxic oil which harms fish and wildlife and the detrimental chemical agents used to clean the spill which spread in air, land and sea.
Natural alternatives, however, are available for bioremediation. Plants with core fiber have been proven effective for bioremediation, as the microorganisms living in the plant break down the oil by feeding off of it, metabolizing it, and releasing it back into the water or soil without the toxins.
When oil spills in bodies of water, sawdust-like material made of hemp core fibers could be spread over the top layer of oil. As it washes ashore, it can be collected and used as compost. The particles not washed ashore would decompose and safely become part of the ecosystem.
Land-based oil spills can also be treated with hemp by planting hemp in the soil. Hemp is very capable of pulling toxins from the soil, metabolizing them and turning the harmful agents into harmless hemp.
How can hemp prevent all future oil spills?
Hemp can replace fossil fuel. Biofuel made from hemp is both non-toxic and efficient and would protect the environment for years to come.
In a study conducted in 1999 by the United States Navy, they looked at using a plant called kenaf as a way to cleanup oil spills. The Kenaf used looks a bit like sawdust, and absorbs the oil very well. After the studies were finished, the Navy concluded the following: The report concluded that the preliminary results from the above three tests indicate that kenaf could be used as an excellent sorbent of oil and also as a carrier of microorganisms for bioremediation of petroleum wastes.
The absorbing power of the kenaf plant is in it’s core fiber.
A uniquely similar core fiber is also found in hemp, which is also a carrier of microorganisms for bioremediation! Bioremediation describes the microorganisms living in the hemp breaking down the oil by actually feeding off of it, metabolizing it, and releasing it back into the water or soil without the toxins.
There are two big reasons why hemp isn’t already being used to help with the problem. The first is money. It is more expensive to produce the hemp than the chemical agents. Essentially, it would take a tremendous amount of core fibers from hemp to be able to clean up some of these larger oil spills. By no means does that make it right, but the for profit oil companies see it through a money valued lens, unfortunately. Secondly, hemp is a federally illegal crop. So even if money wasn’t an issue , there are then the legal issues surrounding hemp.