Groveton firm’s oil cleanup product weighed for Gulf ‘nightmare’

A Groveton firm is awaiting word on whether its innovative oil mitigation product will be used in the ongoing cleanup of the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.MolecuLoc LLC began producing Moleculoc two years ago as a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-accepted, environmentally friendly spill control and recovery product.“We’re being heavily considered at this point,” said Barry Normandeau, MolecuLoc‘s treasurer, of the decision process involved in whether the firm’s product will be chosen for the Gulf cleanup. “It’s a nightmare down there due to the gridlock.”Two of his partners, company President Lou Niles and Robert Larson, vice president and general manager, have been down in the Gulf for several weeks, where progress on the cleanup remains elusive. “They’re not doing much of anything to really mitigate the situation yet,” said Normandeau.Normandeau said the Groveton firm is pressing besieged BP and others involved in the decision-making to use New Hampshire-made product. Recently, Moleculoc won an important ally in Congressman Frank Wolf, a Virginia Republican and member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee. He urged that the product be considered and outlined its attributes. According to Normandeau, support from other sources is mounting.Local rootsWhen the product was first introduced, the Coos County Democrat reported that the product — designed for environmental or other disaster-relief applications — encapsulates gasoline, diesel, motor and gear oils, transmission fluids, glycols, coolants, greases, battery acids, machines oils, paints and varnishes, lacquers, thinners and any other petroleum-based hydrocarbon liquids.“It provides a total mitigation that will set a new global standard,” predicted Niles at the time.Moleculoc comes in porous, sand-like or granular-pellet consistencies, sorts hydrocarbon molecules and encapsulates the molecules permanently. Made from all-natural volcanic minerals, Moleculoc absorbs up to 20 times its own weight. In addition, it’s reusable, fire-retardant and able to be disposed of in most landfills.Normandeau said his company is capable of producing 10 million pounds a week.Moleculoc has its roots in local problems.During the 2008 ice storm, Public Service of New Hampshire needed an on-the-spot mitigation product for small oil leaks from damaged transformers.“(It) has been very effective removing free product as well as stains from impervious solid surfaces,” wrote Richard Dumore, supervisor of environmental operations for PSNH, in a letter to company officials.McDevitt Trucking, a Manchester-based heavy truck dealer, uses it as well. Jim Lagana, general manager, said he remembers Normandeau coming to his facility to demonstrate Moleculoc for several veteran mechanics, who had been “turning wrenches for years.”Normandeau dumped the powdery substance on a puddle of oil, and not only did the oil disappear, but the slippery stain as well.“We were blown away,” Lagana said, adding that it was like “magic fairy dust.”Previously, the best way to clean up oil was either with absorbent mats or a cat-litter-like substance. Both were inefficient, cumbersome and expensive to dispose of, he said.“There seems to be a growing perception of helplessness, that there is nothing that can be done to battle this man-made disaster, or that we just have to stand by and let nature take its course,” said David Kovach, principal of Reflection Solutions, one of the businesses helping MolecuLoc try to break through the corporate and governmental logjam. “But that simply is not true. When I saw the dramatic impact Moleculoc can have in fighting the spill, I jumped in to help spread the word.”Normandeau agreed with Kovach’s assessment of his company’s product. “It’s amazing what this product is capable of doing,” he said. “There is nothing like it in the market.”