Monday, 14 March 2011

Oil Spill Containment - A Challenge Made Easier By Using the Right Equipment in the Right Sequence

By Travis Zdrazil
Oil spills are serious business. And depending on where they happen and how much oil is involved, they can also be a huge challenge. No matter what, though, oil spill containment is a lot easier with the right equipment on hand to keep the oil from spreading and facilitate clean-up. And you need to use it in the right sequence too.
The first thing you need to realize that managing any kind of spill, no matter what the liquid involved, really requires a two-step process. The thing is that our first impulse is to clean things up as fast as possible. But if we give in to that temptation, we might actually make things worse.
And you're probably wondering why starting with clean-up would be a problem. Here's the answer.
Imagine you have a barrel of oil in your facility and suddenly, it tips over and the oil is spreading all over the place. What do you do?
If you're trying to get control of the situation by mopping up the oil, you're going to find after a while that not only have you not made much of a difference, but that the oil has spread -- and continues to spread, making your problem worse by the minute.
If the oil spill should happen on water, this kind of dynamic is magnified since oil spreads even more rapidly on water.
So what do you do instead? Resist the temptation to start mopping up frantically and in a haphazard way and instead focus on containing the oil so it cannot spread any further. And how do you do that?
You use equipment designed for oil spill containment and arrange it around the spill. What kind of equipment? Primarily spill berms or spill dikes if the spill happened on land, and oil booms if the spill happened on water.
By arranging this equipment around the perimeter of the spill, the oil will be contained where it is and you can start with mopping it up -- without having to worry about it spreading any further.
Preventive oil spill containment
Now here's a revolutionary concept! Why wait until the spill before securing the area? Because you're an optimist? Prevention is always better than the cure. So if you handle large amounts of oil, why not put some kind of containment barriers in place before there's a spill.
That way, you can keep the secured area fairly small, which means this kind of containment is far cheaper than the after-the-fact crisis management kind. And if there's a spill, the damage will be comparatively minor and the oil can be cleaned up quickly.
Want to know more about oil spill containment? Get valuable tips and the latest news about absorbents and other environmental safety products on Travis Zdrazil's Safety Maintenance News blog and get his free newsletter too. Travis is an expert on environmental safety products and has supplied businesses with products to aid in meeting EPA and OSHA requirements for more than 10 years.
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