Oil Spill Cleanup Is It Doing More Harm Than Good?

Storage tank construction

Oil spills already have a devastating effect on the environment. Unfortunately, the cleanup process can make it even worse. The Associated Press describes the aftermath of a recent oil spill in Goleta, California: “Along a stretch of beach heavily marred by a crude oil spill, workers in hard hats and white protective suits use wire brushes and putty knives to scrape the black liquid off cobblestones and cliff faces.” Cleaning up the spill by hand is a painstaking operation, particularly given that 101,000 gallons of oil initially leaked out of the pipeline.

Reducing The Environmental Impact Of An Oil Spill

It may seem ineffective to cleanup oil spills by hand — particularly given modern advances in technology — but workers are doing it very purposefully. These techniques are vastly more environmentally friendly than faster, cleanup alternatives. For example, some binding agents (i.e., chemicals that are poured on top of slicks to absorb it, contain it, and make it easier to burn off) leave behind chemicals in the water, some of which take years and years to break down, or don’t break down at all. By removing as much of the oil as possible by hand, workers are able to keep chemical residue and toxic agents to a minimum.

What Is The Most Effective Cleanup Solution?

Of course, the best thing that Americans can do when it comes to oil spills is to prevent them from ever happening in the first place. Stainless steel tank manufacturers and manufacturers of liquid fertilizer tanks should adhere to standards, such as API 650 or API 653 standards, and have tanks inspected regularly. For areas prone to bad weather (like California is prone to earthquakes), extra measures can be taken to fortify and protect tanks from damage.

Cleaning up oil spills is no easy task — and even the cleanup process itself can take an incredible toll on the environment. Cleaning up by hand whenever and wherever possible and steel tank manufacturers taking steps to fortify and maintain tanks in the first place can reduce this harsh, and sometimes devastating, environmental impact.

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