Oregon companies pitch in to clean up the Gulf

The Clean Harbors boom being readied for deployment on Dauphin Island, Ala.

Four Oregon companies are part of the cleanup effort in the Gulf of Mexico, following the Deep Horizon oil leak and spill that began April 21.

Included in the mix are BELFOR Environmental Services, NWFF Environmental, Shaw Environmental and National Response Corporation Environmental Services. All of the companies have offices in Oregon.

BELFOR Environmental Services is based in Denver with 190 employees in five other offices around the nation, including one in Portland. The company provides spill response and remediation services and also excavates contaminated soil.

John Peterson, senior response manager for BELFOR, said the company has positioned workers and equipment in Florida should oil begin to wash up on the Florida coast. BELFOR made similar preparations in Biloxi, Miss., though that area does not appear to be under threat.

Asked about the opportunities for environmental contractors in the Gulf, particularly for companies in Oregon, Peterson said an oil spill of this magnitude outstrips local resources for cleanup and support is likely to come from companies that make a play for the work.

"The Gulf has tremendous capacity for clean up in of its own," Peterson explained, saying companies that provide cleanup services often site in areas where spills are likely. Many such companies are located in the Gulf area, he said.

The magnitude of the BP spill, however, has overwhelmed the large number of local contractors already prepared for cleanup work, allowing companies like BELFOR to move in.

"We have contracts with a couple of the big, prime contractors and if the situation were to move to the beach (in Florida), we have the capacity to train and deploy about 1,000 to 1,500 workers," said Peterson.

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Lee van der Voo, lvdvoo*at*gmail.com, is a freelance writer for Sustainable Business Oregon.

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