IFAI members assist in oil spill cleanup

Share This Article

  • Del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmark
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Twitter

More than 60 members of the Industrial Fabrics Association International are preparing products for clean-up efforts in the Gulf of Mexico following the April 20 explosion of the BP-owned Deepwater Horizon oil rig. The oil gusher at the source of the spill, located 5,000 feet below the ocean surface and about 40 miles southeast of the Louisiana coast, is emitting an estimated minimum of 210,000 gallons of oil per day with a possible maximum of more than 10 times that amount. Attempts to contain the spill and protect shoreline are in effect at several staging areas in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Textiles and containment

Fabric components play a crucial role in oil containment efforts. Oil skimmers made of PVC separate oil from the surface of a body of water. Geotextiles and PVC-coated fabric are options for creating turbidity curtains, which can prevent oil from spreading. Hanesbrands Inc., Winston Salem, N.C., donated a less technical solution—50,000 pairs of pantyhose—for making booms filled with human and pet hair to absorb and trap the oil.

A more traditional containment tool manufactured using PVC or urethane is the oil containment boom, which creates a floating barrier to contain oil and protect shoreline. More than 1 million feet of containment boom has been deployed to the GOM site.

IFAI members supply oil boom containment materials

Several IFAI members are providing materials and equipment for oil boom containment production to help meet the growing demand for booms. Miller Weldmaster manufactures machines that produce oil booms and has increased supplies of these machines for immediate use at the GOM site. “The requests we are getting for production are for hundreds of miles of product,” says Jeff Sponseller, executive vice president of Miller Weldmaster, Navarre, Ohio. Three T-300 machines can produce a combined total of 675 feet of oil boom per hour.

Value Vinyls is supplying tens of thousands of feet of 22-ounce coated vinyl to boom manufacturers, as well as securing additional capacity to prepare and ship hundreds of thousands of feet for these new and urgent requests,” says Randy Busch, president of Value Vinyls, Grand Prairie, Texas.

Cooley Specialty Products, Pawtucket, R.I., also designs quality fabrics specifically for oil booms. “Critical applications, such as maritime spill containment, require materials that will stand up to rough weather and harsh climates,” says Darius Shirzadi, business manager at Cooley. Cooley products for oil booms include Coolthane® thermoplastic urethane, Coolguard 24-ounce with DuPont Elvaloy® and Coolguard HRL 35-ounce membrane with Elvaloy.

How IFAI members can help

IFAI continues to update its website and LinkedIn page with the latest news and discussions of the spill. A list of suppliers involved in efforts to contain the spill is available here and on the IFAI website. To be added to the list, contact IFAI's Information and Technical Services Manager Juli Case. Members can also call the BP hotline at +1 281 366 5511 to register as consultant, contractor, vendor, or to submit information on alternative response technology, services, products or suggestions pertaining to the spill.

What happens next?

Demand for fabrics will continue after containment materials are in place. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration is working with BP to provide equipment to protect the more than 2,000 volunteers and 3,000 personnel working on or near the site from hazardous materials.

Once the booms are removed, they will need to be disposed of properly. Many bags of debris from the Exxon Valdez spill on March 24, 1989 in Prince William Sound, Alaska, were sent to a hazardous waste landfill in Arlington, Ore. A similar facility will be utilized to store waste from the GOM spill and will require geosynthetic materials to properly line the landfill. IFAI and Specialty Fabrics Review will continue to track this story and the important role of fabrics in the spill recovery.

Share your story

Is your company helping with the GOM oil spill? Tell us about your efforts in the comments section below.

Abbie Yarger is a freelance writer based in St. Louis Park, Minn.


Comments are the opinion of individual posters and do not reflect the views of Specialty Fabrics Review or Industrial Fabrics Association International.

  • Parris Hicks-Chernez

    Leigh Fibers, Inc.

    Leigh is a provider of both post industrial and post consumer recycled fibers. We process both natural and synthetic fibers. Cotton, polyester, polypropylene and cellulose fibers are approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency for oil spill clean up. Our customers are sourcing recycled fibers from us to be used in various products including sorbant booms and pads. The recycled fibers are processed and packed into large bales for shipment to manufactures. Leigh has the capacity to process over 1.0 million pounds of fiber per day, meaning that we have been able to keep up with the intense demand. Our waste streams include textile manufacturing plants and various waste collection channels. We have also been working with product developers to find new ways to contain the spill. Leigh provided similar support during the Exxon Valdez clean up. More information regarding Leigh Fibers, Inc. can be found on our website, www.leighfibers.com.

  • Moreland International

    Moreland International on Oil Booms

    Moreland International is located in Three Rivers, MI and would like to thank the IFAI for setting up this comment section.  Our in-house design department and experienced project managers are currently researching how we can apply our Pillow Tanks technology that is being used by the Military in desert conditions in the Middle East to provide new solutions for BP.  We also have a NEW Containment wall and liner system with electronic monitoring system that might be adapted for solutions for oil recovery fabric tanks for skimming challenges.  Also deep water curtains that would stand up to pounding surf are being researched.  To work with us contact Jack Moreland at Business1@MorelandInt.com  

  • Shelly Lapping

    Frame Tents and Disaster Relief Shelters In-Stock



    cost-effective, high-quality solution for short or long-term relief shelters that are thoughtfully engineered to provide housing and work facilities after natural and man-made disasters like the devastating earthquake on Haiti and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.


    Our Disaster Relief Shelter is affordable, lightweight, tough, durable, rugged and easy to assemble - the perfect choice for portable rapid-response structures [housing, command centers, on-site labs, worker rest & changing stations, clinics, aid stations] needed during emergency situations.

    • Quick & easy set-up
    • No special tools required
    • Engineered for long-term use
    • Wind load tested
    • User-friendly
    • High quality
    • Flame-retardant - Meets standards established by California Fire Marshal and NFPA 701
    • Mildew and UV inhibitors
    • Cost-effective
    • Hundreds in stock
    • Ready to ship worldwide
  • Jeff Greene

    Experimental Oil Boom

    Denver Tent is working with a Colorado based engineering firm on an experimental oil containment boom.  The prototype is currently being tested in the Gulf.

  • Eastern Metal Supply

    Oil Containment Boom Connectors (aluminum extrusions)

    In response to the oil spill in the gulf, and the subsequent run on Oil Containment Boom Components, Eastern Metal Supply rushed to help. Prior to this disaster, production of aluminum connector clamps were limited to hundreds per day due to the technology and fabrication methods that were in place.  We recognized the limitation in the marketplace and wanted to do what we could to help. EMS has used the extent of our resources to develop a more efficient and expedient means of producing the Oil Containment Boom Connectors.

    Tooling was ordered and duplicated in both Florida and Texas that would provide a capacity of up to 6000 connectors per day - a quantity sufficient to support 300,000 feet of oil boom PER DAY! This task was expensive and time consuming - a price that we felt obligated to invest, considering the current threat to the environment. The Gulf Coast is important to us and to the majority of our customers and vendors.

    Eastern Metal Supply is heavily involved in many industries that are coastal in nature including: hurricane protection, aluminum boat trailers, tuna towers, etc.  We are very innovative in our approach to developing new aluminum extrusions and fabricated parts for these, and many other industries. With locations in Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Missouri and Delaware our nearly 30 year old company has always been civically responsible and has a track record of investing in new ideas that will benefit our customers and the niche markets we serve.

     For more information about our Oil Containment Boom Connectors please click here:  http://www.easternmetal.com/oil-boom-connectors.htm

    To contact Eastern Metal Supply, feel free to visit us at www.easternmetal.com to find the location nearest you.

  • Ted

    Oil Boom fabric

    BondCote is a Virginia, USA manufacturer of coated industrial fabrics.

    We are stocking 22 oz. yellow and orange coated oil boom fabric available to ship within 4 hours of order placement.  Call Eric Brown at 800 255 9338 or 540 674 0674 for stock checks.

    We can produce to customer specs. Current leadtime is 4-6 days ARO.  Current capacity is 15 miles a week, much more with scheduled orders.


  • Traci Evling

    Providing efficient solutions and technical assistance

    JTE Machine Systems, Inc. has come to the rescue of filling the increased demand for oil boom by providing both existing and new customers like SG&S with efficient new and used RF machines, along with streamlined manufacturing process consultation. This combined effort has resulted is the ability to produce boom at a rate of 100 feet every 6 minutes with less than 8 people.  JTE's exclusive Double RF Welder can remove the bottle neck of cross seaming the foam pockets using two different welding heads, sharing one generator, and the FIAB automated track welders are welding pockets and rope with a minimium and at times no human dependancy. At the end of the day, the machines pay for themselves in record time, and the manufacturer can resume back to a more predictable demand with paid-off machinery and less labor cost per product than ever before.

  • Chris Fredericks

    Supplier of 22 oz. Vinyl Coated Polyester

    Top Value Fabrics is helping oil boom manufacturers obtain 22 oz. vinyl coated polyester quickly and cost effectively.

  • Glenn Lippman

    We can help with our network...

    Novaseal is located in South Florida.  In May when the BP Oil Spill story broke, we networked our Florida-based customers owning at least one heat sealer to contribute heat sealing capabilities to make oil spill containment booms.  Additionally we have access to unlimited supplies. Recently we added additional capability to our network.  Using hand-held wedge welders, oil boom containment sections can be assembled and installed locally, at the beaches, by locally, currently unemployed Florida and Alabama-based workers.  Booms and skimmers can be deployed by local fishing boats.  With Novaseal network in addition to local community-based workers, Florida and Alabama can fix the problem of oil washing up on our beaches.

  • Helen

    RE: Oil spill

    Planetresource.net has a Eco friendly solution to clean up the tragedy British Petroleum has created, please watch the video animation:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60bdQQQ3iVw and pass this along to as many people as you know.

    One person can still make a difference in this world, is that simple interactions have a rippling effect. Each time this gets pass along, the hope in cleaning our planet is passed on.

Submit a Comment

Required. Will appear next to your comment.
Required. Will not be displayed on site or used to send unsolicited messages.
If applicable. A link to your site will appear with your comment.
Optional. Will appear in bold type above your comment.