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Equipment used to clean up oil spills

Inflatable oil containment boom are typically used onboard response vessels where a foam filled boom would be too bulky. They are typically used in open waters where the higher buoyancy to weight ratio assists the performance of the boom in waves.

There are two types of inflatable booms - self-inflating and pressure inflated. Self-inflating booms rely on springs or coils that are compressed in storage, when deployed the springs open drawing in air via one way air valves.

Weir type skimmers simple suction head or large offshore unit fitted with high capacity screw pumps.

Brush skimmers are popular as they have a wider viscosity range, they can lift very heavy oils and deposit them into the sump.

Vacuum systems are widely used due to their versatility. Ranging from vacuum trucks to small portable systems.

Recovered oil storage may present a big problem in an oil spill operation. Storage can be created with temporary pits or by utilizing barges or other tanks of opportunity. Floating storage tanks can be used for temporary storage of recovered oil.

Fastanks and vacuum trailers can provide logistical support

Dispersant spray systems mounted on vessels or aircraft. It is important the oil spill dispersant chemical is applied in the correct manner so that the chemical can do its job of dispersing the oil into the water column. Droplet size needs to be in the region of 500 microns ( coarse rain ) - if it is any finer the dispersant will potentially blow away in the wind, if it is any larger then the dispersant goes through the oil layer and straight into the water. Consideration needs to be given if the chemical is to be applied neat or diluted. This will depend on the type of chemical and the viscosity / nature of the oil to be dispersed.

Helicopters can be used to apply oil spill dispersant as well as airplanes. They have the advantage of being able to treat larger areas more rapidly. Crop dusting planes may also be used. Dispersant systems are available for large heavy lift aircraft such as C130.

Oil transfer pumps are also an important piece of the equipment setup. It is often the case that the oil thickens and becomes contaminated with trash and debris in the open. Pumps that can handle a mixture of oil and water, or that can manage a thick emulsified oil are very important.