Oil spills are a consequence of malfunction in containment procedures and can have either short-term or long-term repercussions. These spills can also be categorized into simple and complex.
A simple spill is generally small and may cause a minimal hazard, making it comparatively easier to contain.
On the other hand, a complex spill may mostly comprise hazardous chemicals and are capable of spreading, thus impacting public health and safety. Such spills may be harmful and tricky to clean up.
When an oil spill transpires, several elements of the environment are ravaged. Depending on the magnitude of the oil spill and the location, the impact can vary between minimal and devastating.
Heavy oils may affect various organisms and their functions such as respiration, feeding, and even thermo-regulation.
Furthermore, the entire ecosystem can change temporarily due to the impact of the chemical constituents of the spilled oil, which are toxic to the environment.
Oil spills resulting from damaged pipelines, tankers, and offshore, or onshore oil rigs frequently cause immediate and almost permanent environmental damage, lasting for decades.
Some of the most impacted areas and victims of ecological havoc due to oil spills include fragile aquatic ecosystems, wildlife habitat, and breeding grounds, fish and marine mammals, marshlands, birds, and beaches.
Land-based oil spills cause irreparable environmental degradation and potentially pose hazards to human health.
Did you know? The largest inland oil spill witnessed occurred on 2nd March 1992 in Uzbekistan. Known as the Mingbulak Oil Spill impact, it happened due to the blowout at a well that spewed oil into the valley near the city of Fergana.
The spilled oil caught fire and burned for two months before the well pressure subsided. A total of about 285,000 tons of oil were released, and it is considered the fifth largest oil spill, and the most massive inland spill in history.
As inland oil spills prevent water absorption by the soil, oil leaks in rural locations of grasslands have the adverse impact of choking off plant life.
If a spill occurs in such environments, the highest response priorities are to impede oil from leaching into groundwater or entering any waterways as run-off, and also to return the soil to productive use as quickly as possible.
Furthermore, spill response strategies in urban environments place paramount weightage on safeguarding human health and restoring usability to the havoc site of the spill as soon as possible.
The urban banner encompasses everything, starting from paved surfaces to forests and parks. Hence, recovery of spilled oil is a top priority here, as it can leach into groundwater or enter rivers and streams as run-off.
Other than the excessive costs incurred by clean-up activities, the industries and the people dependent on coastal resources face severe economic losses.
Even though it is impossible to predict the duration of the economic impacts of oil spills, the consequences are long-lived, fueled by negative publicity and persisting public speculations.
Note: Oil should never be flushed into any sewage system; hence, oil recycling plans are salient. Vacuums, shoreline cleaning agents, skimmers, sorbents, along with bioremediation, can be used to recover the contaminated soil. However, since prevention is better than any cure, quality berms and trenches should be used to avoid any oil leaks.
A photo of the infamous Keystone oil spill in North Dakota that occurred on 29th October 2019. The pipeline, operated by Canada-based TC Energy, had spilled about 383,000 gallons of crude oil into a North Dakota wetland (Information Source: washingtonpost.com)
Did you know? Trans-Canada’s Keystone pipeline had 21 spills between 2010-19. (Information Source: boldnebraska.org)
While safety and surety is a priority for oil and gas firms, spills do occur, resulting in potentially catastrophic effects on surrounding ecosystems.
The most reliable way to further subdue a potential oil leakage is to take preventative measures to minimize the likelihood of a spill. Using proper storage and careful handling of fuel and oils play a pivotal role in avoiding such accidents to occur.
At gas and oil drilling sites, the central and the local governments require containment of any fluids having the risk of contaminating the environment.
Hence, to help protect your oil industry from environmental liability, it is vital to devise a product that meets or even exceeds the regulations depending on where you are located.
This holy grail of a product is known as an oil spill berm that is specially customized using polymers to avoid any oil spills.
Gas and oil spill berms help contain any leakage and consequently reduce the potential disasters to local ecosystems and local economies. Given below is information on oil spill berms to help understand the product better.
An oil spill berm is a secondary containment solution to help avoid any accidental leakage of hazmats into the environment
What are oil spill berms or oil spill containment berms?
Oil spill berms, also known as oil spill containment berm, are an efficient yet affordable choice for the secondary containment of hazardous liquids to avoid ecological damage.
Oil containment berms are generally used for the protection of any oil-filled equipment, fuel tanks and trucks, truck washing decks, and any item that is capable of leaking hazmats.
Benefits of oil spill berms
The hazard of slow drips and devastating oil ruptures can dump hazmat into the environment. This leads to the evacuation of on-site facilities, thus resulting in production downtime.
Oil spill berms provide the safety and security for containing small drips or large spills, to avoid such situations from occurring. The pointers below enlist the benefits of these oil spill berms.
- They are portable with interlocking joints; thus, the mode of conveyance is not a challenge
- They have modular, impervious & lightweight designs
- They are specifically engineered to act as barriers that are leak-proof, corrosion-resistant, tensile, and virtually indestructible
- Oil spill berms have superior chemical resistance, and their design ensures that any fluid sits harmlessly in the berm
- Owing to the diverse applications of oil spill berms, they are used across various heavy-duty industries
- They can be quickly & easily installed in sites, involving limited preparation requirements
Oil spill berm construction
Fuel, gas, and oil berms are particularly engineered to endure the elements of heavy-duty use while meeting the SPCC mandates for full compliance.
Heavy-duty construction enables the drive-through capability of the vehicle while magnifying the efficiency for portability and usability.
These berms contain the requisite properties to withstand abrasive chemicals that can deteriorate the material of the berm, causing a fuel leak.
Considerations to customize the ideal oil spill berm include factors such as the type of land for deploying the berm, the volume of the hazardous fluids, portability, vehicle traffic levels, and so on.
Additionally, considering atmospheric and climatic conditions are essential while designing an oil spill berm for meeting the secondary spill specifications for the contained area.
Applications of oil spill berms
Proper assessment of each application of oil spill berms is vital while addressing the eventuality of an oil spill. Given below are some of these applications.
Huge containers are cached on-site for permanent storage. As per EPA rules and regulations, these containers need secondary spill containment solutions.
As a result, the use of oil spill berms provides an additional tier of safety and protection from oil spills around these bulk storage containers
2. Drilling and Fracking
Oil spill berms are also installed around drills and fracking wells to avoid any excess spillage from the engine. With drills, there is usually plenty of oil oozing out due to some malfunctioning pipe or a defective seal.
With fracking, there could be an oil spill from the extraction process or the flow back of the chemically treated water used could drip. Using spill berms proffer protection against these contingencies
Portable oil and gas tanks are often used for carrying the oil, safely transporting wastewater and fracking water, and removing and disposing of chemicals.
When these tanks are stationed on-premise, to be loaded or unloaded, the possibility of spillage is high.
Therefore, oil spill berms are typically laid out over the deployed area where these tanks are usually parked
Heavy machinery is majorly used to operate the drills or pump in water at fracking sites and on oil rigs. These devices can malfunction and drip, inducing a lot of contamination.
To contain any leakage promptly at the source, it is a standard practice to set such equipment on top of oil spill berms
When tools or machinery demands maintenance, they are relocated to a specific part of the site, allotted for that purpose.
This maintenance space utilizes oil spill berms to hinder residual oil or other chemicals from blending with the soil
The bottom line
Oil spills can cause a catastrophic impact on the environment with a rippling effect on the industry as well as the workers.
Whether the spill occurs on land or water, the aftermath is as wrecking to the local ecosystem as it is for the local economies.
Furthermore, there are massive fines from regulatory agencies such as EPA and OSHA. Thus, blocking potential hazards due to oil spills can be more cost-effective than the costs ensued due to a spill clean-up of any size.
Furthermore, these oil spill berms will not only help you keep compliance but also ensure that you are ready and capable of minimizing the damage when an unforeseen, havoc-wreaking disaster strikes.
Tip: With proper oil containment gear on hand, you can be shielded from any public relations oil spill havocs and armored against the associated hit to your bottom line
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I am Dinesh, an industrial studies enthusiast, and an aspiring entrepreneur who is trying to make it in the World of Content. I am someone who believes that “Content is King”, and has several years of experience in creating content.