A Guide to Oil Spill Booms

What is the function of booms?

Oil Spill and Containment Booms are used as a tactical way of deflecting, diverting, containing or excluding oil spills in marine environments such as harbours, lakes and the open sea. In the event of an oil spill, booms surround and restrict the spread of oil, mitigating the potential harm it could cause to aquatic species and the wider environment. Speed of deployment and ease of installation means booms are often used as the first response in oil or debris escapes occurring either at sea or across the nationwide network of rivers and canals.

What are the four types of oil booms?

Different oil booms are designed to deal with a variety of situations and circumstances, listed below are four particular types of oil boom, including:

  • Inflatable booms
  • Foam filled booms
  • Rubbish and debris booms
  • Fire booms

Inflatable and self-inflating booms can be stored flat, take up very little storage space and are easier to transport when compared to other types of boom which may be permanently filled with ballast materials or foam etc. This type of boom is also generic in that it can be used in many water based settings and conditions and be deployed with speed and efficiency.

Foam filled containment booms offer a lightweight structure and low maintenance method of spill containment. The closed-cell internal floats give a high degree of buoyancy and the reinforced exterior fabric is UV and oil resistant. This type of boom is ideally suited in fast moving currents commonly found near the shoreline.

Rubbish and debris booms are a passive way of collecting waste such as plastic products, driftwood or congealed oil that has found its way into a water system. Predominantly used in low current waters, these booms simply halt the flow of rubbish in its path and can be installed and removed as required.

Fire booms are made from a fire resistant fabric and have a water cooled design; they act as a barrier in situations where oil has spilled into the water and ignited. Generally used in open seas, fire booms act to contain the combustion within a defined area so that the oil can continue to burn in a controlled way.

How do oil spill booms work?

Most types of oil spill boom incorporate a design consisting of a floating section which sits above the water line and the skirt which is submerged. These two aspects help to prevent oil either riding over the top of the boom or escaping from underneath it. In high winds, the floating section may act as a sail if too high, whereas if strong under currents are prevalent, then oil may escape from under the boom. It is essential therefore to choose an oil spill boom that is designed to cope with the prevailing conditions.

TPA’s Floating Oil Spill Inflatable Containment Booms

With a raft of experience in the hire and supply of oil spill booms, TPA provide customers with UK produced containment equipment which can be deployed in minutes. The booms can be joined using universal slide connectors to increase length without the need for additional tools. Booms are manufactured from high visibility, extra heavy duty 900 gsm or polyurethane coated fabrics and have galvanised ballast chains that provide tension across the entire length of the boom.

TPA’s oils spill booms are available in four specifications to suit a wide variety of applications. Whether for use in an emergency or for longer term hire, TPA offer fast expert help and advice to select the most suitable boom for your project.