Spill Containment | What are Oil Booms And How are they used?


As oil spills continue to occur in oceans, rivers, and lakes around the world, increasing environmental concerns are raised as to how to properly clean up and contain these spills. One of the most frequently used items during this process in an oil containment boom. These booms vary in variety and can include absorbents, flotations and more.

What is an Oil Containment Boom?

An oil containment boom is essentially a floating barrier that is deployed around spills to help temporarily contain oil as cleanup efforts are being implemented. These booms are wide-spread in their styles and can include the ability to absorb oil as it is being contained. The purpose of these booms is contain oil to prevent further spreading and contamination, as well as concentrate oil to a specific location to help ease cleanup process.


Oil Boom Styles:

Floating Boom: The floating boom is designed specifically to contain oil. These booms can be inflated with air, used with a built-in foam flotation device, or built with a net system.  These booms can effectively contain oil and prevent it from spreading to the surrounding areas.


Absorbent Boom: The absorbent boom offers the dual ability to both contain and absorb oil in these locations. This allows the boom to effectively surround and absorb to prevent spreading. Absorbing these materials can help further the cleanup process.


Deployment Methods

When containing an oil spill, booms can be deployed in many different methods. Some of the most commonly used tactics include containment, deflection, and exclusion.


Containment: Oil booms used for containment are a common method for water locations that have moving water. These booms are placed around oil spills to contain them and prevent further spreading. Booms should be installed around the spill barrier and deployed perpendicular to the spill for the best level of containment.


Deflection: When containment is not possible, booms are often deployed for deflection. This method includes deploying an oil boom along a spill to deflect the oil to a desired cleanup area. Rather than deploying this boom perpendicular to the spill, these booms should be deployed at a slight angle to help move the oil to shorelines where it will be easier to manage and cleanup.


Exclusion: This type of deployment is used to exclude oil from polluting particularly sensitive areas. This can include areas like under bridges, marshlands or other water sources and wetlands. This type of deployment includes places booms around the area in need of protection, acting as a kind of barrier to prevent oil from spreading this location.


For more information on boom deployment, view Oil Spill Training.


Booms are often successfully used with a boom reel to both increase storage safety and speed up the deployment process.


Oil Spill Cleanup Products

After an oil spill has been contained to a specific area, cleanup often includes the use of several different oil spill cleanup products including skimmers, vaccuums and absorbents. These products are typically used on the surface of the water to help absorb or skim oil for later disposal.


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