Surfing World in Turmoil

The news hit Los Angeles harder than a tsunami. One of the surf board industry's primary suppliers of the polyurethane foam blanks out of which the boards are then shaped has abruptly closed down after 44 years in the business. Gordon "Grubby" Clark, now 72, and his partner Hobie Alter, invented the modern surf board industry in 1959 when they poured hot resin over a hunk of plastic and discovered that it didn't melt, leading to the mass production of surf boards. Clark closed shop rather than face the potential of fines, lawsuits and possibly even prison as a result of damage to the  environment and workers who have contracted cancer working in the shop.  Clark Foam supplied about two-thirds of the surfboards made in the U.S. and virtually all the small surfboard makers in America use him almost exlusively.  Clark said that state and federal regulation drove him out of business, an allegation denied by environmental regulators. On Wednesday, as prices spiked, surfers rushed to secure surfboards, fearing the factory's shutdown could spark shortages.
 LA Times 1  & 2


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