Spill Response Techniques: Several Options Are Available!
A number of advanced techniques are available for controlling oil spills and minimizing their impacts on human health and the environment. The key to effectively combating spills is careful selection and proper use of the equipment and materials best suited to the type of oil and the conditions at the spill site.
During a spill response, sensitive locations threatened by an advancing oil slick can be protected with various kinds of tactics.
Several options are available to respond to oil at sea and can be considered in three broad strategies; containment and recovery, in-situ burning and dispersant application. When oil reaches the shoreline, considerable effort may be required to clean the affected areas. It is therefore essential that comprehensive and well-rehearsed arrangements for shoreline clean-up are in place. Here are some techniques used;
These are used to clean up shorelines. Natural processes such as evaporation, oxidation, and biodegradation can start the cleanup process, but are generally too slow to provide adequate environmental recovery. Physical methods, such as wiping with sorbent materials, pressure washing, vacuuming, raking and bulldozing can be used to assist these natural processes.
Mechanical Containment or Recovery
This is the primary line of defense against oil spills in most operations. Containment and recovery equipment includes a variety of booms, barriers, and skimmers, as well as natural and synthetic sorbent materials. Mechanical containment is used to capture and store the spilled oil until it can be disposed of properly.
These are used to protect birds and animals by keeping them away from oil spill areas. Devices such as propane scare-cans, floating dummies, and helium-filled balloons are often used, particularly to keep away birds.
Chemical and Biological Methods
This can be used in conjunction with mechanical means for containing and cleaning up oil spills. Dispersing agents and gelling agents are most useful in helping to keep oil from reaching shorelines and other sensitive habitats. Biological agents have the potential to assist recovery in sensitive areas such as shorelines, marshes, and wetlands. Research into these technologies continues to improve oil spill cleanup.
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