The spill on the Wabash River comes almost six years after the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
Millions of gallons of oil spilled, and a Tri-State company played a major part in the clean up.
At Elastec’s headquarters in Carmi, a fire boom stands on dry land. Six years ago, it was in the Gulf of Mexico, battling one of the biggest oil spills ever.
“It was pretty intense to be that far offshore, and to see the volume of oil surfacing in one place,” says Brian Orr of Elastec.
Orr and Don Johnson were two of many containing millions of gallons of oil, using dozens of fire booms. They got the call just days after it started.
“The Coast Guard first reported the well was secure, and that the automatic shut offs worked. We didn’t know until a couple of days later that wasn’t the case,” Johnson says.
The fire booms made by Elastec collected more than 300,000 gallons of oil, a task made difficult by the gulf’s conditions.
“Some of the constant problems that we ran in to were the valley was so deep that the oil would come up, it didn’t come up in the same place every day,” says Johnson.
The explosion killed eleven people. The spill damaged hundreds of miles of louisiana coast line. Johnson and orr say without the booms, the disaster would’ve been much bigger.
“Louisiana has over 7,000 miles of shoreline,” says Johnson. “So, the work everyone did protected quite a bit of shoreline.”
“It would still be going on. it never would’ve been fully cleaned up, the way it was,” adds Orr.
The technology has improved since then, with booms now able to collect larger amounts of oil a minute. Orr and Johnson say the feeling of doing their part, stayed the same.
“It’s quite humbling to know that we were out there and Elastec was making such a difference,” Orr says. “It was a great feeling to know we were able to help.”
Elastec officials say the oil boom collection technology is now in use in 155 countries.