Workers at an oil spill

Contain and Absorb: The Basic Procedures in handling a Petroleum Spill

Petroleum spills have many immediate and long-term effects that are detrimental to the environment. It can also pose major health threats to people and animals who get in contact with the spill. For animals, a petroleum spill could kill aquatic life and wildlife if the spill happens in water or land ecosystems that house an abundance of flora and fauna. As for people, petroleum has mixtures of toxic chemicals that can contaminate drinking water wells, if it percolates into the ground water.

So, how do you prevent spills from becoming dangerous? The approach is dependent on the severity of the spill. But generally, you will use various fuel spill absorbents and if warranted, an emergency response team that is knowledgeable in handling petroleum spills.

Stop and Contain

In a petroleum spill, the first thing you need to do is to find the source of the spillage. If you see that the cause of the spill is from a leaking container, you should advise a qualified and equipped professional to safely cover the nozzle or valve using a wooden plug, bolt, band or putty. However, if the spill or leak does not come from a container and it cannot be stopped, you would have to alert the professionals to catch the flowing liquid using pails, barrels or other large vessels.

Using fuel spill sorbents is another way to contain the leakage. For spills on land, spreading sorbent pads on the affected areas can stop the flow and soak up the petroleum on the pavement. On the other hand, petroleum spills on bodies of water require the use of absorbent booms. This type of sorbent floats on water, and it is used to surround and isolate the spillage from spreading to other parts of the body of water.

Collect and Dispose

Now that you know how to contain the spill, you must also know how to properly dispose of the used absorbents. Commonly, fire departments or emergency response teams handle the disposal of used absorbents.

Incineration is the most common method of disposing of used fuel spill sorbents. This process deals with burning the used sorbents so that it will not contaminate any area that it is placed on. Several environmental policies regulate the incineration process to ensure it minimises its harmful effects on the environment.

By using high-quality sorbents and immediately notifying an emergency response team, you can help in handling a petroleum spill.


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