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Oil & Fuel Spills: A Guide to Marine Spill Response

When an oil or fuel spill occurs on water, it is critical to contain the spill as quickly as possible. Oil spills can cause widespread damage to marine life and the marine ecosystem, as well as human health. Some of the most devastating pollution incidents in Australia have been caused by oil spills, and continue to affect both the natural environment and the companies involved. Specialised marine spill response equipment must be used to effectively contain and clean up oil and fuel spills, including booms, sweeps, nets, absorbents, and marine spill kits.

In this guide, we introduce the different types of marine spill response equipment, discuss the benefits of using a marine spill kit to contain an oil spill, and outline how to respond to an oil or fuel based marine spill:

Marine Spill Response Equipment

SpillShop stocks a range of high quality marine spill response equipment to help companies contain and clean up oil and fuel spills. Responding quickly to a pollution incident with the correct equipment can effectively minimise the environmentally and financially damaging effects of an oil or fuel spill into a waterway.

Marine Booms

Oil & fuel marine booms are made of a nylon outer net and spun bond inner skin to ensure durability and boom integrity, encasing a highly absorbent meltblown polypropylene fill. A nylon rope runs through the full length of the boom to provide exceptional strength. Marine booms are hydrophobic, meaning that they repel water while absorbing hydrocarbons such as oil and fuel. Marine booms can float on water even when saturated with oil, making them an ideal first response measure for this type of spill. Booms with snap-hook joins can also be easily linked together, allowing them to form large containment systems for marine spills. Double booms are used when a higher level of absorbency is required, with a second barrier to absorb any hydrocarbons which pass the first boom, while spaghetti booms are designed to contain and remove heavy oils and other more viscous liquids on water.

We also stock oil & fuel nets and sweeps, which can be used alongside marine booms to clean up hydrocarbons. The net is manufactured using strands of oil adsorbent and can be attached to a rope for ease of deployment, and is used to clean oil slicks off the surface of the water. The sweep is designed to absorb oil sheens on the water surface, featuring a sturdy length of dimpled absorbent securely attached to a nylon strap. Sweeps are also useful in the final clean up stage of a spill.

Organic Absorbent

Organic absorbents is another method for containing and absorbing oil or fuel spills. The SpillBoss P85 Premium Organic Absorbent can absorb hydrocarbons both on land and water, and should be spread upwind of the spill as it is very lightweight. Although this loose granular absorbent is suitable for absorbing hydrocarbon-based liquids like oil and fuel, we highly recommend using oil-only polypropylene absorbents for marine spills as it is difficult to remove granular absorbents from the surface of the water.

Marine Spill Kits

Marine spill kits are designed for responding to hydrocarbon spills only, on either land or water. Marine spill kits are housed in durable containers or wheelie bins, and while they are easily stored, they can also be quickly transported to the site of an incident. These spill kits typically contain oil-only absorbent pads, organic absorbent, marine booms, safety equipment, disposal bags and laminated instructions for ease of use. Marine spill kits are ideal for the containment and clean up of oil and fuel spills in marinas, harbours, waterways, ponds, dams, rivers and bays, and are very popular with construction companies working on projects with a high spill risk.

Benefits of Using a Marine Spill Kit for an Oil Spill

For facilities or projects located on or near waterways, marine spill kits are the easiest and most effective way to respond to an oil or fuel spill. They can be stored on site near spill prone areas for quick deployment, and are convenient to transport by forklift or by using the attached wheels. Marine spill kits also contain absorbent booms, which are one of the most vital pieces of equipment in the event of a water based pollution incident. Marine booms have a high hydrocarbon absorbency rate, while remaining buoyant and durable. Some spill kits also contain a pre-joined length of marine booms, meaning that the boom can be deployed straight into the water without requiring the time-consuming process of joining each piece.

Responding to an Oil or Fuel Based Marine Spill

When responding to an oil or fuel based marine spill, understanding how to use the equipment in your marine spill kit is vital. Marine booms should be deployed first to contain the spill and prevent it spreading further into the waterway. One end of the boom should be attached to an anchor point such as a tree or railing, and the boom angled across the water to direct the spill to a single point to make the clean up process easier. Depending on the severity of the spill and the nature of the waterway, you may need to use double booms or even multiple lines of boom to contain the spill.

Once the spill has been contained using the marine booms, organic absorbent can be used to assist in absorbing the oil or fuel. Ensure that a boom is deployed downstream or downwind to capture the floating absorbent. At this point, absorbent nets and pads can also be used to skim oil from the surface of the water. In the final clean up stage of a marine spill, use sweeps and absorbent pads to absorb any sheen left on the surface of the water. Absorbent wipes can also be used to wipe down surfaces, clothes, hands and any items contaminated by the spill.

At SpillShop, we are dedicated to providing our customers with effective spill response and liquid containment equipment across Australia and the Asia-Pacific. To learn more about our product range, visit our FAQ page, or Contact Us today to discuss your needs.