Janesville company offers solution for BP oil spill

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Thursday, June 24, 2010
— A Janesville company’s solution for cleaning up oil in the Gulf of Mexico might be falling on deaf ears at BP, but it’s attracting a lot of eyes on the Internet.

“This is basically all I’ve been talking about for the two days since the video was posted,” said Dan Sinykin, president of Monterey Mills, the largest manufacturer of knit pile fabric in the United States.

Sinykin was referring to a short company video that demonstrates how one of the company’s wool fabrics absorbs oil. The company posted the video on YouTube on Monday, and it’s become a popular link on plenty of Facebook and other environmental websites.

In it, oil is dumped into a small wading pool. A scale shows the weight of the pool before and after the oil is added. Two workers then place a piece of the fabric in the pool, twirl it around and remove it.

Most all of the oil is removed from the water. About all that remains is a mark around the edge of the pool and a spot on the bottom where the oil contacted the plastic pool.

Sinykin said a lineal yard of the wool fabric can absorb roughly 30 pounds of oil. Monterey Mills, he said, can produce enough of the fabric to save more than 20 miles of beachfront a day.

“We couldn’t believe how well this product absorbed the oil,” he said. “It picked up four to five times its weight in oil and water.

“We can prove that our product is head-and-shoulders above all of the other options being featured on the news and Internet, including peat moss, hay, human and pet hair and a specialty-fabric out of Europe.”

On its website, BP encourages people to submit ideas on how best to clean up the spill. Sinykin did just that about five weeks ago but hasn’t heard back.

“I figured that I’d give them a month before we did the video,” he said. “I’m sure they are wading through lots and lots of ideas, and the majority of those are probably pretty crackpot.”

But Sinykin is convinced his company’s idea can work. He’s aware that Monterey’s tests were rudimentary and didn’t include variables such as water composition and temperature.

“We knit a very precise product,” he said. “It’s very consistent, very dense.

“It will work above or below water level, and it’s 100 percent biodegradable. It could be buried and, when the wool decays, the oil could be reclaimed or incinerated.”

Sinykin doesn’t see his overtures to BP as a get-rich scheme for Monterey.

“Our entire reason for doing this is out of concern for people in that area and their livelihoods in the Gulf region,” he said. “Unfortunately, I’m not in a position to just donate a million yards of this material to BP and say, ‘Here you go guys, good luck.’

“We feel awful for the people and wildlife suffering in the Gulf Coast and are confident that our fabric is the means to prevent BP oil from reaching and despoiling shorelines across the Gulf.”

Last updated: 2:00 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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