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Professor Takes Part in Gulf Cleanup

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Arkansas Tech faculty member Sean Huss, assistant professor of sociology, is back in the River Valley after spending several weeks on the Gulf Coast this summer assisting with cleanup following the oil spill.

Huss spent three weeks working for the Centers for Toxicological and Environmental Health, which is a company based out of North Little Rock, to test the air quality in Port Fourchon, Louisiana.

While in Louisiana, he worked to complete air monitoring in Port Fourchon and in several nearby communities.  The data he helped collect was provided to various officials within the Department of Homeland Security and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA.)  Huss says some of the data is also displayed on the EPA website.

Huss says his favorite part of working in the Pelican State was “the excitement and having to move quickly to respond to the spill.”

“Within less than two days, I had been in three states and several parts of these states depending on what was going on with the spill,” he added.  “We typically worked between 13 and 18 hours per day depending on what was going on at the time.”

Huss says he was surprised at the level of organization among those involved.  He added, “Despite what you see on the news, things were far more organized than they were portrayed.  I hear that things are now running as efficiently as they can given the mobilization of thousands into the Gulf Region to work on the problem.”

While in Louisiana, Huss says one of the hardest parts was meeting those individuals whose “livelihoods depended either on oil or fishing.”  He explained, “I did meet a few people there, and I found myself truly empathetic to their plight.  In addition to these losses was the impact of the recovery effort, which essentially drew hundreds and thousands of workers in.”

After his return to Arkansas, Huss says he’s followed the progress of the area, and he hopes to return soon to see if “the people and the wetlands have recovered.”