Sunday, 30 January 2011

What Are Oil Booms, How Do They Work and How Are They Used?

This article explains what oil spill booms are and how they contain oil spills. It also discusses the various types of such oil booms and how they help save the environment in different cases.
Oil spills mostly happen, as a result of human carelessness. Tankers carrying oil may spring a leak or there could be break down in equipment, which could cause an oil-spill. Oil spills are very dangerous for the wildlife present around the area of the spill; and need to be contained as soon as possible with very little damage or loss. This can be achieved through oil-spill booms.
Oil spill booms or contamination booms are temporary floating barriers that are used to contain oil-spills. They are used in order to lessen the chances of pollution spreading to the shorelines and they also help make recovery easier. Oil-spill booms absorb the oil and concentrate it into thicker layers at the surface. This way, vacuums, skimmers or other cleaning up methods can be used a lot more effectively and with as little wastage. The booms are made up of highly absorbent polypropylene fillers that are held together by an outer mesh. They are great for absorbing hydrocarbon based liquids, like oil, diesel, petrol, jet fuel and kerosene. They are not as effective when it comes to water based fluids or acids.
Oil spill booms are the first piece of equipment used and last piece of equipment to be removed from an oil-spill site. If one flies over an oil-spill site, they will notice the booms on the surface of the water strategically placed in order to prevent the oil from spreading. They go down about 18 to 48 inches below the water's surface and are extremely effective as long as the waters stay calm. As the material of the boom is only slightly raised on the surface, waves can wash the oil over the top of it and can spread the contamination. In most oil-spills, single booms are not enough to contain the oil-spill. If the current's speed is over 1 knot, the oil will drain from under the boom. To overcome these drawbacks, multiple booms need to be used.
To contain an oil-spill, sometimes, the oil is burned in spite of it causing air pollution. It is necessary to be prepared for such an event and to use fire proof oil spill booms. These booms are just as effective in oceans and seas as they are in ponds, lakes, rivers or streams. If in case the oil-spill occurs over land, the oil-spill booms work just as effectively. This equipment has proven very helpful in containing oil-spills and in saving the lives of many marine creatures.
Looking at the damage oil spills create, oil spill booms really come as a boon. The proper and timely use of these oil booms is necessary to prevent or repair lots of damages, which may otherwise negatively affect wildlife and the environment in general.