Oil spills are events that can cause a lot of harm to environment, and in turn to human health. Oil remediation refers to the process of cleaning up such oil spills. When threats arise from such spills, the remediation techniques to be used will depend on the spill size, the classification of the oil, the climate at the time of such an occurrence and the area where such spills occur.
Oil remediation methods that are commonly in vogue to deal with oil spills can consist of:
1) Natural Disintegration: This is the most preferred form of oil or petroleum remediation, and involves leaving the spill alone and allowing natural processes to take over. The oil or petroleum gets broken up by the action of the wind and the sun. In water, this process is further enhanced by waves and ocean currents. Lighter oils break down easily in this natural process.
2) Containment and Removal: When such oil spills occur on water, these are contained with the use of floating booms. This contained oil is then skimmed over with skimmer equipment, and the oil scooped or sucked out into containers, which are then transported to areas where the oil can be safely disposed off or stored for retrieval. Oil remediation companies will have booms of various shapes and lengths, that will allow them to tackle all sizes of oil spills. Where such spills occur near the shore, containers for the oil can be based on land.
3) Chemicals and Dispersant: Damage to coral , grass and marine life occurs only after some time. If such spills are detected early, among the oil remediation methods is one that uses chemicals and dispersant to break up the oil and assist in its degradation. The dispersant breaks up the oil and enables it to mix with water. The oil is then removed by bacterial action from organisms in the water and evaporation of the dispersed oil and water mix.
4) Oil bioremediation: Petroleum remediation products have been developed as a part of the space exploration program and use treated wax in the form of tiny balls. These balls are impregnated with nitrogen and phosphorous which are nutrients that help microorganisms to grow. These are the microorganisms that that literally eat up the oil and thus prevent any damage from the spills. The wax helps the oil to adhere to the balls, which then get consumed by the bacteria.
5) Bio-integration: Oil remediation bacteria are single genus cells and of pure strain that are normally found in oil drilling mud. Such oil bio-integration strategies use inorganic co-treatment to promote the growth of the bacteria. These can vary depending on the conditions of the spill and are used extensively in situations where oil spills are on land and soil conditions can vary widely. Such remediation techniques help to not only clean up the soil but also clean up the contamination from the groundwater. Such bio-integration can be carried out without affecting any ongoing business activities.
Time is very crucial when dealing with oil spills and any needed oil remediation. Especially in the sea, weather and conditions change so rapidly, that these can make or break any effort to contain the oil spills. When such spills occur on land, they remain more easily contained because of the inability of the oil to disperse easily, as in water.