What Are Some Ways to Clean up Oil Spills?


Quick Answer

Using dispersants to break down crude oil, introducing biological agents to speed biodegradation, and using skimmers to contain and collect oil are all methods used to clean up oil spills. Spills may also break down naturally over time when the sun, wind and ocean currents disperse the spill and evaporate the oil. Cleanup methods depend on the location of the spill, weather and ocean conditions as well as any potential hazards.

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What Are Some Ways to Clean up Oil Spills?
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Full Answer

Containment methods utilize floating booms that surround and isolate the oil slick. Oil is then skimmed from the slick and placed in tanks located either on shore or within nearby vessels. These methods are less effective in high seas and during windy conditions.

Chemical dispersants break down the oil, which speeds the process of natural biodegredation, although such methods are not appropriate for all spills. The process of biodegredation breaks the oil down into harmless substances like fatty acids and carbon dioxide.

Oil spills occur when crude oil spills into oceans and other bodies of water. Spills are typically caused by damaged tankers, pipelines and offshore drilling platforms. These spills are often very hazardous and have the potential to cause extensive damage to the natural environment. In order to be effective, cleanup efforts need to begin as soon as possible after the spill.

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