We don’t often think about all the coordinated efforts and all the technology needed to contain a dangerous oil spill. But then when a major spill actually happens… suddenly, we do. And we notice that booms for oil spills must be a significant business in their own right within the larger shipping industry.
The equipment and techniques used to contain a major spill are similar to those used for any kind of port and terminal projects, ferry landings, pipeline crossings, or really any construction project that happens over or near water. The purpose of a turbidity barrier or silt curtain is to prevent sediment stirred up by the construction from escaping into and polluting the water. There are federal and state laws about controlling pollution in this way. Some of these laws also lead to the use of booms for oil spills.
Booms for oil spills work on the same principle, except that it’s a temporary floating barrier that sits on the water’s surface and prevents the oil slick from spreading to land masses or over more area until it can be skimmed off. That makes this barrier possibly the most crucial pice of oil spill response equipment in use, or at least about tied with the oil skimmer.