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Monterey Mills gaining BP OKs

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JAMES P. LEUTE
July 27, 2010
— With two key approvals in hand, a Monterey Mills official is expected back in the Gulf of Mexico region this week to meet with BP about cleanup applications for a Janesville-made product.

Monterey, the largest manufacturer of knit pile fabric in the United States, has been touting since June the oil absorbency of one of its woolen fabrics.


In Janesville, the company has staged demonstrations showing how its fabric can pick up and retain four or five times its weight in oil.


Videos of the demonstrations have circulated on the Internet, and political candidates have taken notice as well. Sen. Russ Feingold stopped by the plant for a demonstration last week, and gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker is due in today.


Company representatives already have made two trips to the Gulf region, one where the product was tested in oil-fouled waters and another to explain the fabric’s capabilities to BP’s “High Interest Technology Team.”


Brent Birkhoff, Monterey’s vice president of administration, said the company’s fabric has received approval from the U.S. Coast Guard.


Last week, he said, the product won the approval of the Environmental Protection Agency, which has laid down strict requirements that any products cleaning up oil not return infected water to the ocean.


Birkhoff said Monday that company President Dan Sinykin would return to the region this week for further discussions with BP. Ultimately, company officials hope their biodegradable product can contribute to the massive cleanup efforts.


The BP team has whittled more than 120,000 cleanup solutions down to 150—including Monterey’s—for further investigation.



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