When an oil spill occurs, there are many ways to clean it up. One method includes mechanical means to contain and clean up the oil. Let’s take a look at some of the equipment needed:
A containment boom is a flexible, fence-type, water-borne pollutant containment barrier that floats on the water.
Oil Skimmers are a floating device used to skim oil off the surface of water or liquid. Many skimmers use oil-attracting materials to help draw the oil to the system and facilitate a more complete cleanup.Skimmers can be towed, self-propelled, moored in river currents, or even used from shore. Many types of skimmers are available for use, depending on the kind of oil spilled and the weather conditions.
There are three common types of skimmers:
Other equipment used for oil spill cleanup include the following:
Oil can be sucked up along with the water, and then a centrifuge can be used to separate the oil from the water, allowing a tanker to be filled with near pure oil. Usually, the water is returned to the sea, making the process more efficient, but allowing small amounts of oil to go back as well.
Shovels are used to clean up oil on beaches.
These are large absorbents that absorb oil. To be useful in combating oil spills, sorbents need to be both oleophilic (oil-attracting) and hydrophobic (water-repellent). Although they may be used as the sole cleanup method in small spills, sorbents are most often used to remove final traces of oil or in areas that cannot be reached by skimmers. Sorbent materials used to recover oil must be disposed of in accordance with approved local, state, and federal regulations. Any oil that is removed from sorbent materials must also be properly disposed of or recycled. (EPA)
Sorbents can be divided into three basic categories:
Studies by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) have shown microorganisms naturally present in the soils actively consume fuel-derived toxic compounds and transform them into harmless carbon dioxide. Furthermore, these studies have shown that the rate of these biotransformations could be greatly increased by the addition of nutrients. By "stimulating" the natural microbial community through nutrient addition, it is theoretically possible to increase rates of biodegradation and thereby shield the residential area from further contamination.
A bioremediation accelerator is a chemical containing no bacteria which bonds to soluble and insoluble hydrocarbons. Characteristics of bioremediation accelerators include the following:
Controlled (In-situ) burning is the term given to the process of burning oil slicks at sea, at or close to the site of a spill. Burning may be seen as a simple method which has the potential to remove large amounts of oil from the sea surface. Controlled burns:
There are a number of problems which limit the viability of this response technique. These include:
A controlled burn to clear marsh grasses can also be used BEFORE the oil reaches the shore.
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