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By Kimberly McMillian

Correspondent

DAYTON, Tenn. - A local company that has made 300 tons of fiber to mop up oil spilled in the Gulf of Mexico is seeing its contract winding down.

"They've told us to continue through August," said Ian Petrie, vice president of sales for TenCate Grass North America. The plant specializes in synthetic grass products used in residential and commercial areas.

The BP undersea oil well that blew out in April, releasing about 172 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, has been plugged and the leak contained, government officials said this week.

In May, TenCate began mass production of a clear polypropylene yarn needed for mops created by a supplier for BP in Louisiana, Petrie said.

Petrie was contacted by Crucial Inc. in Gretna, La., which specializes in oil-spill equipment, to reproduce the yarn, which also was used after the 1978 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska. He said Crucial officials had come up with the idea to use the specialty yarn for their hand-held mops.

"They told us what they needed, and we made it," he said.

Representatives from Crucial Inc. declined to talk about the product, stating they had legal obligations to BP and couldn't give interviews.

Petrie said no one from BP has contacted Dayton plant officials about their contribution, so he doesn't know exactly where the mops were used.

The company will stop making the yarn at the end of August because it can't be used for anything else, Petrie said. But TenCate workers could gear up again if needed for another oil spill, he said.

"TenCate's a major industry and has made a difference" in the Gulf, said Raymond Walker, Rhea Economic and Tourism Council director. "Rhea County appreciates their contribution to this area, too."

The Dayton plant is a division of the Dutch-owned Royal TenCate Corp., which specializes in geosynthetics and aerospace composites, along with industrial and protective fabrics.

Kimberly McMillian is based in Rhea County. Contact her at kdj424@bellsouth.net.

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