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SPILL-SORB ON VESSELS
PROTECTING WATERWAYS & OCEANS


 

The 1989 grounding of the Exxon Valdez resulted in the release of 35,000 Tons of Toxic petroleum into an environmentally sensitive region in Alaska. Missteps that caused and then followed the spill outraged much of the American public against Exxon in particular and against environmental pollution in general. The story stayed alive in 1990 as the beaches near the oil spill were still polluted and various legal battles continued in the spring.

On February 4, 1970, the oil tanker Arrow struck Cerberus rock in Chedabucto Bay, Nova Scotia. 16,000 tons of Bunker C oil started flowing in the Bay. Tests were conducted to assess the potential of peat as an absorbent. Peat was first spread on a patch of oil of approximately 20 square feet which was slowly drifting to the shore. Using a " wire mesh screen, two persons brought the slick to the shore by dragging it with the screen positioned vertically in the water.

On April 22, 1970, the sinking of the ferry Patrick Morris resulted in polluting beaches near Glace Bay, Nova Scotia with Bunker C oil. The beach was covered with numerous lumps of Bunker C approximately one square inch in size. Peat was spread on the beach, mixed with the Bunker C and picked up with rakes. The operation resulted in the removal of 95% of the oil.

In November 1970, a private company used peat to absorb crude oil on the shorelines of the St. Lawrence River. The spill was 1,500 feet by 200 feet and twenty men worked during three days at low tide. They spread peat at a rate of 4 cubic feet per 100 square feet of beach, On rocky shorelines, the same technique removed about 90% of the oil.

Oil Tankers will soon be required to carry oil discharge-removal equipment under a new regulation. According to the Coast Guard, Tankers, off-shore tank barges and coastal tank barges will be required to carry containment and removal supplies for on-deck oil cargo spills under the proposed rule (33 CFR, Part l55) as mandated by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.

The equipment and supplies required under 33 CFR, Part 15 include SORBENTS; NON-SPARKING HAND SCOOPS, SHOVELS, AND BUCKETS; CONTAINERS SUITABLE FOR HOLDING RECOVERED WASTES; EMULSIFIERS FOR DECK CLEANING; PROTECTIVE CLOTHING; AND NON-SPARKING PORTABLE PUMPS AND HOSES.

Parts 155.205 through 155.220 outline the on-deck cargo spill response equipment requirements for various types of vessels. Vessels under 400 feet in length require enough containment and removal equipment for at least 7 barrels of oil. Vessels over 400 feet in length require enough containment and removal equipment for at least 12 barrels of oil.

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In addition, inland tank barges would require material for at least one barrel of oil during cargo transfers. Vessels carrying oil as a secondary cargo would require equipment for at least a half barrel of oil. All of the required equipment is designed for on-deck oil spills. At present, there are no requirements for vessels to carry materials for on-water releases, according to the Coast Guard.

While the Valdez captured the largest headlines, the worst problems of ocean pollution were elsewhere. In fact, although ship accidents and oil-well blowouts command the public’s main attention, most oil pollution in the ocean comes from municipal and industrial runoff, cleaning of ship’s bilges or tanks, and other routine events

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