Company With Whitefish Ties Aids Gulf Cleanup

By Beacon Staff

On a map, Whitefish is a long way from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, but in reality, it might be a lot closer than you think.

Ecosphere Energy Services, a subsidiary of Florida-based Ecosphere Technologies, recently announced a partnership with Mid-Gulf Recovery Services to use the Ecosphere Ozonix water treatment system in the cleanup of British Petroleum’s massive oil spill.

Both Ecosphere’s parent company and the subsidiary have ties to Whitefish. Ecosphere Technologies’ chief executive officer Dennis McGuire is a part-time Whitefish resident, as is one of Ecosphere Energy Services’ major investors, Drew Bledsoe.

Whitefish-based attorney Chad Wold is the subsidiary’s general counsel and managing member. Wold is also general counsel for the Drew Bledsoe Capital Group, which has invested in the project. Wold said the board for Ecosphere Energy Services consists largely of Whitefish residents.

On June 9, Ecosphere Energy Services investors Troy Aikman and Bledsoe, both former NFL quarterbacks, met with members of the press in New Orleans to discuss the Ozonix system, which treats contaminated water without the use of chemicals. Jean-Michel Cousteau, of the famed oceanic exploratory Cousteau family, has endorsed the technology.

Back in the Flathead Valley last week, Wold was scurrying around, conducting his own interviews and keeping in constant contact with his partners in Louisiana.

“It’s really exciting to wake up in the morning and know you’re working for this company that’s helping the environment, helping out in this dire situation, and creating jobs,” Wold said.

The Ozonix technology has been used to treat water contaminated by chemicals and oils in various locations around the country, Wold said. According to an informational presentation distributed by Ecosphere Technologies, the Ozonix system uses a “contain and clean” method for treatment, as opposed to BP’s current chemical dispersant approach.

The chemical dispersant approach, according to the presentation, is aimed at dispersing the oil not collected at the wellhead so the oil doesn’t reach the surface. This minimizes containment of the oil and leaves the door open for “massive unknown consequences for tomorrow.”

But Ecosphere Technologies says that the “contain and clean method” uses ultrasonic transducers and acoustic cavitation to create millions of micro-bubbles that rapidly transport the oil to the surface for non-chemical separation.

Seawater is then pumped through reactor systems located on an offshore supply vessel. Billions of oxygenated and ozonated micro-bubbles are created, producing a chemical-free, and non-toxic, fluid that’s pumped down to the wellhead. The oil on the surface is contained and treated in an Ozonix system.

Glen Smith, CEO of Mid-Gulf Recovery Services, said in a release that Ecosphere’s technology has far-ranging benefits in oil-spill cleanup efforts.

“Mid-Gulf’s expertise is responding to natural disasters,” Smith said. “We are excited to be combining decades of experience and rapid response with Ecosphere’s breakthrough technology to begin the massive cleanup of the Gulf’s marshes and inland waterways.

“Our teams working together can make a real difference to the Gulf region that is being so devastated by the oil spill.”

The Gulf of Mexico is more than 2,000 miles away from Whitefish, but through the 24-hour news cycle the oil spill has become ingrained in many people’s daily lives since the Deepwater Horizon oilrig exploded on April 20.

But the constant coverage doesn’t generally paint a picture of optimism. Wold hopes Ecosphere’s technology can shine a light on progress, and give people a reason to believe the situation is getting better.

“You turn on the T.V. and it’s so negative,” Wold said. “But there’s actually a solution to it.”