Emergency Response Equipment: What is a Spill Containment Boom?


During a spill response, sensitive locations threatened by an advancing oil slick can be protected with various kinds of equipment and tactics. Booms are often the first containment method to be used and the last equipment to be removed from the site of an oil spill, they can be the most commonly used and most environmentally acceptable response technique to clean up spills.

Containment booms are used to accumulate the oil, prevent it from spreading and facilitate its removal. A well deployed boom is the first step towards the success of an operation. The installation and the maintenance of booms requires well trained personnel. There are a number of factors that determine a successful oil spill response. Often these are determined to be the speed of efficiently mustering a response team, the quantity of applicable equipment for the response and the availability of trained personnel.

Boom Types

Oil spill containment booms come in a variety of forms, this is why ensuring a supply of applicable equipment is essential. There are three main types to be aware of;

Hard Boom

This is a floating piece of plastic that has a cylindrical float at the top and is weighted at the bottom so that it acts as a skirt under the water. If the currents or winds are not too strong, booms can also be used to make the oil go in a different direction.

Sorbent Boom

Sorbent booms are long and cylindrical made out of a material that absorbs oil. Sorbent booms don't have the skirt that hard booms have, so they can't contain oil for as long a period as hard booms.

Fire Boom

This incorporates metal plates with a floating metal cylinder at the top and thin metal plates that make a skirt in the water. This type of boom is made to contain oil long enough that it can be lit on fire and burned up.

Booming Tactics

In order to ensure the best use of this equipment there are a number of tactics to be aware of;

Containment Booming - Placing a boom in a body of contaminated water for the purpose of holding or slowing the movement of contamination.

Diversion Booming - Placing a boom in a body of contaminated water for the purpose of diverting the contamination to a collection point.

Deflection Booming - Placing a boom in a body of water for the sole purpose of changing the course of the contamination.

Exclusion Booming - Placing a boom in a body of water for the purpose of blocking off a sensitive area from contamination.

To achieve the best possible response it is important to ensure selection of applicable equipment and use personnel trained in tactics is essential.

We're always interested in anything that aids response organizations in improving your capabilities. Being able to easily manage your equipment and track the personnel trained to use it is one of the reasons we created [D4H] Technologies designed especially for equipment stockpile management.

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