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Vetiver System. Has it a role in the Gulf Oil Clean Up and Protection?

Friday, June 4, 2010

This image is of vetiver growing on land adjacent to Trinity Bay, near Galveston, Texas.

Vetiver certainly has a role to play as one of the technologies for coastal and island stabilization.  It has been tested in many parts of the world and has been shown to tolerate high levels of salinity and petroleum products.  It should have no problem in tolerating lighter weight crude oil that is floating around in the Gulf.

Vetiver could be used to help stabilize the proposed off shore barrier berms in the Gulf of Mexico.  If used, vetiver barriers would (a) quicker than other plants stabilize the dredged soil islands, (b) act as a pioneer plant allowing native species to colonize and eventually take over, (c) provide habitat for wildlife, (d) reduce wave run up on the berms, thus providing another 10% equivalent in berm height at no extra cost, and (e) provide better protection than most other plants against extreme storm conditions.

There are people who say that vetiver is a non native (even though it has been in Louisiana for over 200 years, and has in that time shown no competitiveness with other plants) and therefore should not be used. My retort is that the problem is so severe and acute that the most efficient biological system should be used - native or non-native.  Further other countries in the world, particularly Vietnam, has found vetiver very effective for this sort of disaster mitigation, and it has not competed with native plants - to the contrary native plants better establish when grown in conjunction with vetiver.

Vetiver has been shown to protect the bluffs near Fairfield (Mobile Bay), Alabama, very well, some of the vetiver is grown on the beach at the foot of the bluffs. Elsewhere in the world vetiver has been used to stabilize beaches, sea dykes, brackish water (tidal) river banks, and as can be seen in this photo it grows well on the Gulf coast.

I have posted on TVNI website a list of files  ( that have relevance to Vetiver's application under these difficult conditions.

Dick Grimshaw


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