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As oil spill stumps experts, concerned citizens give it a try

Kitchen colanders may hold the key to controlling the leaking oil well in the Gulf of Mexico. That's what Jim Green of Carmichael, Calif., thinks.

Bottle brushes, he believes, suggest a way to scrub the gunky slick from the surface.

Green is not an engineer, but he's also not a kook.

He's one of thousands of everyday citizens horrified by the environmental damage caused by the Deepwater Horizon disaster and moved to act.

They're calling their congressional representatives, showing up at newspapers, posting ideas on websites.

"We get a lot of these calls. A lot," said Don Wagner, a spokesman at the Deepwater Horizon Response center.

Green got creative after watching the news unfold.

"It just kept getting worse," Green said. "I became very concerned."

So he went to work trying to solve the problem.

His ideas sound wacky at first, but when he describes them, they sound more plausible.

The colanders offer a concept for capping the leak in gradual stages, while rotating brushes would pick up oil and then release it in a collecting pipe.

Green has tested his ideas on a small scale, using oil, water, sand and dollar store supplies.

"I just love doing this stuff," said Green, who worked in instrument sterilization at the VA Hospital at Mather.

Jerome Baumann of Lodi got creative, too.

He suggests lowering an inflatable bladder, like a big air bag, into the leaking pipe and filling it with air to create a plug.

He called Rep. Dan Lungren's office with his idea. The office of Rep. Doris Matsui has taken calls from inventive constituents, too.

"It doesn't do any good for me to have the idea in my head," said Baumann, a retired telecommunications consultant. "I'm retired, so I have a lot of time to think about things."

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