Environment: The Slick-Licker

The ways of treating oil spills are many and mysterious. Some involve nothing more than sopping up the mess with absorbent straw or raking in spills with floating booms; others involve complicated machines that vacuum oil-drenched sand. All have two things in common: they are painstakingly slow and they often leave as much oil behind as they pick up.

Thanks to a Canadian invention called the Oilevator, grimy beaches and greasy seagulls may soon be a thing of the past —provided the machine, nicknamed the "slick-licker," can get to the scene on time. The brainchild of Canadian Engineer Richard Sewell, the licker...

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