Oil spills are an ongoing risk in the offshore industry, and any incident has the potential to cause far-reaching environmental, financial and reputational damage. Fortunately, Brady’s spill specialist division SPC has the experience and products to deal with any spills efficiently and economically
Two years have passed since the underwater explosion of the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico, which lead to vast quantities of oil contaminating both the sea and coast. The mop-up operation was one of the biggest the world had seen, and demanded the best clean-up brains and experience from across the globe.
For Brady’s spill specialist division, SPC, there was no time to waste as the scale of the disaster became apparent and containment of paramount importance. The U.S base in New Jersey quickly instigated a round-the-clock shift to its boom assembly area to help meet the demand.
In total the company provided more than 1 million feet of sweeps; nearly half a million feet of oil-only booms; and about 62,000 oil nets, 46,000 feet of oil-only rolls and thousands of bales of oil-only pads. Materials used to contain and clean up the spill include both polypropylene and ReForm sorbents.
Brady’s SPC?division was chosen because its absorbent booms are strong, lint-free and gapless, and designed to remove oil from water. Also, its personnel are experienced and fast to react when disaster strikes.
Meltblown polypropylene (MBPP) binds to oil molecules absorbing between 10 to 25 times its own weight, and even when at full saturation, it remains easy to handle. It does not absorb water and is also less dense, so is suited to the task.
In addition to its suitability for major incidents involving tankers, oil spills or offshore platforms, the polypropylene materials used by SPC are equally efficient in industrial environments, where they can be used for prevention and elimination of pollutant-containing fluids around machines and working areas. In contrast to granules it is also easily and more economically disposable.
In addition to the MBPP products, the Gulf of Mexico clean-up also included the eco-friendly Re-Form range. Consisting of 80% recycled newspaper and cellulose, Brady’s SPC Re-Form Sorbents are environmentally responsible sorbent options, green to produce and green to use.
Massive operations like the Gulf of Mexico are fortunately rare, and less publicised marine spills require SPC’s expertise around the world on a daily basis – the procedure and materials for clean-up in oil spills stays the same, only the scale changes.
A spill in San Francisco Bay
Within 24 hours of an oil spill in San Francisco Bay, SPC was contacted for inventory and delivery information by an environmental supplier working with the spill. A team went to work providing information and products, and SPC had delivered sorbents to the San Francisco spill location by the same afternoon.
“Spills are accidents that can happen at any time and customers working on a spill need a constant flow of up-to-date inventory and shipping information,” said Rich Glancy, SPC channel account manager and spill coordinator for the San Francisco Bay spill. “In addition, inventory, manufacturing and shipping at SPC need up-to-date information on the dynamics of the spill to know which products will be used for containment and clean-up.”
Glancy, along with Thom Sousa, sorbent specialist and SPC representative at the spill site; Kelly Lopez, customer service representative; Jim Ahern, manufacturing supervisor; and others from SPC worked throughout the weekend to ensure the required products were delivered quickly.
SPC provided oil nets that float on water and entrap heavy oils, sweeps to collect spilled oil as they ‘sweep’ the surface of the water, industrial rugs that control contamination in staging or decontamination areas, and spill pads to clean beaches and contaminated birds.
The spill happened when a container ship struck a bridge support cutting a 200ft by 12ft gash in the ship’s side. About 58,000 gallons of oil leaked into the bay.
When oil spills occur in water, the oil spreads quickly. “It is important to keep the oil contained so it does not hit the beaches,” said Glancy. “Once the beaches get contaminated, the clean up efforts turn to manual versus mechanical clean up. Manual clean up is much more costly and slower than mechanical clean up.”
Approximately seven miles of containment boom were stretched across the bay with more than 12,745 gallons of oil collected.
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