Despite BP setback, local hair donations continue

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LEWISTON — Misty Edwards is still hard at work sending hair to be made into oil-absorbing booms for the Gulf of Mexico, despite confusing press releases by oil company BP and Matter of Trust, a nonprofit organizing the hair-collection efforts.

On Friday, the Lewiston hairdresser shipped 50 pounds of hair collected from area stylists, pet groomers and even from donors in Canada. She estimated Tuesday that she had another 20 pounds yet to be sent.

But donations have slowed after a BP press release announced they had no need of any additional booms. Further, engineers stated that hair booms absorb much more water than the “sorbant” booms currently in use, making them sink faster and complicating cleanup.

“It was really, really discouraging,” Edwards said. “It was like a slap in the face to all the people who gave their time to save their hair, and their money to send it out.”

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Matter of Trust will continue to accept donations of hair, fur and nylons and will continue to stockpile booms. In a Tuesday statement on its website, Matter of Trust said it would be ready to provide booms for state cleanup projects.

The same day, Matter of Trust sent an e-mail to members, stressing the importance of making more hair booms to be used for continuing cleanup “long after the press and BP are gone,” citing the Exxon Valdez oil spill off Alaska in March 1989. Alaskan officials continue to report finding oil in the beaches where the spill washed ashore.

Edwards agreed with Matter of Trust’s sentiment, saying, “I don’t see why we’d ever stop collecting hair, because we’ll still need it for years and years to come.”

Local donors and collectors were concerned that their hair would never be used, Edwards said, but she remained confident that the hair booms would be deployed at some point, also pointing to the Valdez as an example of things to come. “Going back to the Alaskan spil l… 20 years later is a long, long time to see oil still,” she said.

Edwards encourages everyone who wishes to stay involved to send their hair, fur and nylon donations directly to Matter of Trust. More information on hair collection efforts, as well as where to send donations, can be found at the website, www.matteroftrust.org.

ayoung@sunjournal.com

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