Heartland company helping with oil spill cleanup in the Gulf

By Carly O'Keefe

CARMI, IL (KFVS) - Oil is hitting the shoreline of the Gulf Coast and there is a massive effort to block as much of the giant slick as possible; and part of that effort comes out of Carmi, Illinois.

Elastec American Marine, Inc. manufactures hydro-fire boom systems to contain oil spills at sea, and employees have been working overtime since the spill.

"Speed is of the essence, and the way you handle that is putting the most effective tools in place immediately," said Elastec American Marine Chief Financial Officer Jeff Bohleber. "If you have several systems to corral that oil and burn it, you'll get rid of the largest quantity of oil as fast as possible."

That process has already begun. The Coast Guard conducted the first controlled burn in the Gulf of Mexico Wednesday afternoon and Elastec American products and personnel were on the scene to help out.

"Even though there's some smoke, and that's bad, it's not nearly as environmentally destructive as if that oil hits the beach, so getting it out quick is an absolute key," said Bohleber.

Still, the cleanup could take week or months to complete. For some Elastec employees, that means traveling to the Gulf to make sure the cleanup systems on their way from Carmi are used correctly and efficiently.

"I've been getting extra equipment together, manuals," said Research and Development employee Charles Storey. "I'm ready to go."

For many Elastec employees, it's a way to make a difference in the wake of a disaster.

"Nobody wants an oil spill, but when it happens, and we provide our product, it really gives us a feeling that we're helping," Bohleber said.

Copyright 2010 KFVS. All rights reserved.