Sunday, 30 January 2011

Alternative Oil Cleanup Methods for Cleaning Oil Spills in Water

Apr 30, 2010 Lisa Russell
Clean up Oil Spills With Human Hair Mats - Lisa Russell
Clean up Oil Spills With Human Hair Mats - Lisa Russell
Learn different ways to clean up oil spills and remove oil from the ocean to protect birds, fish and seaside ecosystems from damage caused by spilled oil.
Coastal environmentalists keep sorbent mats in their oil spill kits, but what goes on at sea to remove or clean up oil spills? Alternative oil cleanup methods like in-situ burning, the use of human hair mats and even feathers have been used for oil spill cleanup.

Oil Containment Booms and Oil Skimmers

According to the Environmental Protection Agency's "Understanding Oil Spills" ( and Oil Spill Response, December of 1999, the first course of action when an oil spill occurs is to use a floating barrier called a containment boom. These keep the oil from spreading further out into the sea until it can be removed by other means. Because the water conditions at sea are difficult to control, this oil spill containment tray is simply a temporary measure, until the oil can be skimmed away, diverted, dispersed or otherwise removed.
Since oil floats, the next means of controlling oil spills comes in the form of oil skimmers. These devices come in many forms and are designed to lift the oil from the top surface of the water, to be transported to a safer location.

atural Oil Spill Cleanup Materials

Once the bulk of the oil has been contained and removed, sorbents (short for absorbent) are applied to the surface of the water. The best sorbents are those that attract oil and repel water. Matter of trust is a US company that makes sorbent mats out of donated human hair, for cleaning up oil spills. Other materials may also be used, like sheep's wool, corn cobs, peat moss, sawdust, straw, hay and feathers.

Dispersing Agents and Biologic Agents for Removing Oil

The use of dispersant chemicals to remove oil from waterways is hotly debated. Some of these chemicals are quite toxic, but the affect they have upon wildlife, compared to the damage an oil spill can cause, has not been established. Their use is limited because of the controversy (EPA).
Biologic agents that “digest” oil in the water, are also hot topics. Enzymes and microorganisms that consume oil are used in bioremediation techniques like bioaugmentation and biostimulation.

Burning the Oil Spill

Under very specific conditions, and with the approval of several authorities, oil spills are sometimes burned away (EPA). The environmental impact is taken into consideration, and it's used most often as a last-ditch effort. In-situ burning is rarely used for controlling marine spillage, because of its negative impact on ocean life.
Disaster cleanup isn't likely a topic that comes up at the dinner table, but for coastal families dealing with an offshore oil spill, oil spill kits are a wise investment. Knowing how the EPA handles oil spills can help citizens take helpful action.