RICE LAKE (WQOW) -- The phone lines are jammed with companies offering their ideas to help cleanup the gulf coast. One in Rice Lake is hoping the idea it has stands out. American Excelsior says one of its products could protect hundreds of miles of coastline from oil, and the EPA has given its stamp of approval.
American Excelsior has been manufacturing all natural wood-fiber for more than 120 years. Now, this older product could help solve a new problem. "Our hope is to become involved and be part of the solution to protect the beach lines," said Terry Sadowski, President and CEO of American Excelsior Company. "You've all seen the terrible pictures of the fish and the turtles and the birds that are being affected by that spill."
Although the product is manufactured to prevent erosion, Sadowski says it could have a very practical use on the gulf coast. "Our devices would be laid at high tide line and that wave action would bring crude up into our product, be captured and trapped within the excelsior fiber in the mat and then that mat would be able to be rolled up and disposed of."
American Excelsior says it could produce enough of these mats to cover 23 miles of shoreline every day until the cleanup is complete. The EPA has approved the product for use in clean up efforts. Now, it's up to BP. The Rice Lake company is trying to convince BP to sign on. "There are about 5000 suggestions per day coming to BP," said Sadowski. "There's a lot of good ideas but not all in the form that can be used, not all practical."
The company says its ideas are practical and those ideas have lawmakers' attention. In a letter sent to BP, Senator Russ Feingold urged the oil giant to enlist the help of domestic companies, like American Excelsior in the cleanup efforts. "BP has responded to Senator Feingold's office and has now opened the door for us," said Sadowski. Sadowski says the company plans to submit its products and ideas on paper, to BP this week. "I think our next move is to get down on the coast, to get product actually installed and try the application."
American Excelsior has manufactured wood fiber and foam products since 1888. The company opened a wood fiber plant in Rice Lake in 1906.