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Talking With … Nick Naayers: Oil-spill booms booming

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July 29, 2010|By Kevin Spear, Orlando Sentinel

Nick Naayers, 46, is vice president of American Boom & Barrier Corp. in Cape Canaveral, one of a small number of companies making the floating booms used to contain oil from the BP PLC well in the Gulf of Mexico. He spoke with Sentinel staff writer Kevin Spear.

CFB: You’ve seen the unprecedented surge in orders for your floating boom persist for nearly three months now. Is it possible somehow to have too much boom business?

Of course not.

CFB: How much boom are you sending out your doors each day to the Gulf of Mexico?

We’re still making boom as fast as we can. We went from 10 employees working eight hours a day to two, 10-hour shifts, six days a week, and an additional 20 employees. We’re making pretty close to a mile of boom a day.

CFB: Despite weather worries, efforts to cap and plug the damaged BP PLC well 50 miles south of Louisiana are showing encouraging signs. How long do think the demand for your booms will continue to be so high?

There’s still a slick out there the size of Texas, and they don’t have a permanent cap on that thing yet, and they haven’t plugged it yet. Anything could happen. It’s a little too early to tell, until they get those relief wells drilled.

CFB: A few months ago, you said there was a nationwide shortage of all the key materials — such as chain, cable and fabric — used to make boom. How’s that going?

They finally are just getting caught up. As a matter of fact, the only thing I’m a little short on right now is chain, but I should be getting caught up on that pretty soon, too.

CFB: You and some of the people you work with seemed stressed during the early days of the spill. Are you hitting your stride and relaxing a bit?

The only thing that has relaxed a little are some of the ridiculous phone calls I was getting every day. Every vendor in the country was calling us, trying to sell us something. Everybody and their brother was wanting us to come and teach them how to make boom. And, unfortunately, reporters were calling everyday [laughter].

CFB: With all this boom you are making, do you think this spill could end up causing a glut of boom that ruins your business for awhile?

No, I don’t think so. Our customers know what their requirements are, and they are still restocking what they sold to BP. Any boom that’s been used out there, it gets broken and damaged; a lot of it will be recycled — cutting the chain and cable out — and disposed of. The stuff that wasn’t used will get stored somewhere, but I don’t see that being a big issue.

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