Oil absorbents can be the boaters best friend.
We all know the saying: “Oil and water don’t mix.” It’s an adage that has persisted for a good reason. When marine oil spills happen, it’s more than just inconvenience. If not handled and contained properly, a marine oil spill can lead to disaster.
We get it … mistakes happen. But knowing how to handle this type of oil spill — and of course, having the right resources on hand to deal with it — is essential for environmental conservation, not to mention protecting you business from legal repercussions.
Keeping our water oil-free
We depend on oil, diesel, gasoline, and other lubricants to power most boats. That makes it especially tricky to make sure that the oil that powers those boats stays out of the water they travel on. History has taught us the consequences of failure: Disasters like the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill caused years of devastation and was the push policy-makers needed to take action to prevent such events from happening again.
The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 was passed, amending the Clean Water Act to create a comprehensive plan for preventing and responding to oil spills. The act also required that vessels that caused oil pollution on U.S. waters pay for their damages.
Years later, there are plenty of safeguards in place against such catastrophes. Employees who work on or operate boats are now required to have training under the HAZWOPER (Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response) standard, Title 29 of Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1920.120 to protect them in the event of a hazardous waste spill or oil cleanup operations.
In case of emergency
So what happens if you do experience a spill or a leak? According to federal law, you should follow this process:
- The moment you notice something is amiss, immediately stop and identify the source of the spill or leak. If you are docked in a marina, you may notify their personnel for assistance.
- If the discharge has caused a sheen or discoloration on the water’s surface, it must be reported to the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center. Be prepared to offer information about the location, cause or source, type, amount, and threat level of the spill, as well as local weather conditions.
- Contain the spill as much as possible using the following tools and oil absorbents:
- Oil Absorbent Boom
- Oil Absorbent Sweep
- Bilge Boom
Once the above items have been used to contain the spill, dispose of the oil absorbents properly to ensure no further contamination issues. DO NOT use soap or detergent to try and clean up a spill. It will make the situation worse, and is thus illegal. It is imperative that you be prepared and have the appropriate tools and oil absorbents on hand.
Ideally, you will never have to deal with a serious oil spill while on a boat. But anything is possible, and if you do end up in this situation, it is best to have a clear and efficient plan. Always have appropriate tools and oil absorbents available to minimize damage and properly contain the threat.
Do you have the right safety products on hand for your workplace? To find out, contact Angie Meza at firstname.lastname@example.org or (800) 869-9633.