A Solution to Manmade Disaster: The Rigid Pipe Boom

T. Baker Smith

6. Clean Water and Sanitation 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 14. Life Below Water 15. Life on Land Flourish Prize Finalist - For Business as an Agent of World Benefit - Weatherhead School of Management

Overview

The Rigid Pipe Boom was a solution to a problem that may have changed the life of South Louisiana for decades. In response to the Deepwater Horizon Gulf Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico, T. Baker Smith engineered the Rigid Pipe Boom to contain and prevent the oil from invading the inlands, and as their mission states “to enhance our communities and our way of life.”

Authors

Samantha Hollingsworth

Samantha Hollingsworth

Geri Orgeron

Geri Orgeron

Donald August

Donald August

Alexis Guzman

Alexis Guzman

School

Nicholls State University

Nicholls State University

Professor

Christopher Castille

Christopher Castille

Innovation

When natural disasters occur, environmental agencies deploy a number of different methods to correct or repair the damage. In the case of the BP Oil Spill, the commonly used methods would not work. The oil covered too large of an area and the waters had too great of a velocity for those methods. So, if a new method could not be created, then this meant the oil would continue to contaminate the water in the Gulf South. To do what other methods could not, the Rigid Pipe Boom was created. The Rigid Pipe Boom system begins with a 30-inch thick wall of pipe lodged attached to a barge. The pipe is welded to a cable which is attached to vertical pilings driven into the ground. The cables allow for the pipes to float on the surface of the water, while the pilings provide structure so the pipes are stationary. The system ends with the barge which has a vacuum truck docked onboard. As oil would hit the pipe, it would be vacuumed from the water.

The idea for the Rigid Pipe Boom is an improvement upon the Absorbent Boom methodology. The Absorbent Boom methodology is used when there is a spill in a small body of water. The Absorbent Boom would float on the water and as oil hits it, it absorbs the oil. Engineers took this idea and made it feasible for the conditions in Gulf of Mexico. Though the majority of the credit goes to T. Baker Smith, this innovation was deployed and installed by Chet Morrison contractors. In the end,the Rigid Pipe Boom was able to correct one of the South’s largest manmade disasters.

A Solution to Manmade Disaster: The Rigid Pipe Boom

Inspiration

The Rigid Pipe Boom was stimulated as a reaction to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico. As project manager Craig Guidry said “BP was concerned that the oil would migrate to Grand Isle. This was a grand scale project and solution to the BP Oil Spill.” However, the motivation for this project was entrepreneurial for Kenny Smith and Chet Morrison.

These guys were not hired to take on such a project, but the two knew that they had to do something to protect the waters, the inland, and, essentially, Louisiana. The environmental and economic effects of further contamination would be far more devastating than the time and resources they would use to look for a solution. So, they acted quickly to protect their home of coastal Louisiana.

Overall impact

Imagine this: The town of Grand Isle, Louisiana abandoned, as no more people live on the island and no more tourists visit the island. The beaches of Grand Isle are covered in dead marine life. The water, or what used to be water, submerged beneath the oil. This is miles and miles of what seems to be a ghost town.

Think upon what you know of New Orleans, Louisiana: the never-ending party and loads of food-seafood. But since the Gulf of Mexico is contaminated with oil, this means no more seafood. This means a countless number of shops and restaurants closed. This means Louisiana is not the same.

This is what T. Baker Smith saved Louisiana from. The Rigid Pipe Boom had an enormous impact on the Gulf South Coast. “The application was of an emergency disaster recovery. So, this allowed the environment to recover from the effects of the spill. Since the oil was being cleaned from the water, the society and business, economically, can prosper.” The ecosystem was allowed to restore itself and Louisiana was able to remain “Louisiana.”

Business benefit

Many businesses in south Louisiana rely on the resources of the Gulf of Mexico. Since Louisiana is known for its seafood, this innovation has impacted business greatly. Thousands of dollars are brought into Louisiana from food, tourist attractions, and events held in Grand Isle and South Louisiana, in general.

Social and environmental benefit

The Rigid Pipe Boom benefits the society and environment of Louisiana to a profound extent. Louisiana is known as Sportsman’s Paradise. Many of the Gulf Coast society use the Gulf of Mexico and its connecting waters for recreational use. This innovation allowed the Louisiana way of life to remain the same.

Interview

Jennifer Smith & Craig Guidry, Public Relations Coordinator & Project Manager

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T. Baker Smith

T. Baker Smith

Houma, LA, US

Business Website: https://tbsmith.com/

Year Founded: 1913

Number of Employees: 201 to 500

T. Baker Smith is a professional Civil Engineering and Consulting firm that serves those in the public works, land development, pipeline, and exploration and production industries. Project include improving transportation, drainage and sewage infrastructure, developing affordable construction site designs, and the laying and maintaining miles of pipelines. The company works on projects to explore and produce oil and natural gas, and assists in the producing of petrochemicals, natural gas, oil, and energy as well.