Oil is a contaminant in groundwater, soil, rivers, lakes and oceans. Protecting against oil spills is important to protect your home environment and to guard against environmental contamination. Proper maintenance, procedures and preventive measures combine to prevent and contain oil spills.
Sources of Oil Spills
The EPA has drastically changed rules for safe handling and containment of oil and gas products for both commercial and home use. Even common practices like changing your own vehicle oil are now regulated to avoid accidental spills and contamination. Homes heated with fuel oil have large tanks that are often not maintained or even installed safely. Bilges in watercraft are often contaminated with oil and gas, then pumped into the surrounding water.
Proper maintenance of equipment and fittings can prevent leaks. Make sure your fuel tank is installed correctly and placed in a sheltered area. Even tanks installed in basements can leak into stormwater or sewage drains installed in the floor. Have your vehicle oil changed at an approved facility. Be careful with watercraft to avoid contaminating your bilge with oil or gas--use funnels to pour petroleum products.
Containment and Cleanup
Outdoor tanks in some areas must have earth dikes built to contain spills. In other areas, concrete berms (containment pools) have to be built around tanks to contain possible spills or leaks. Commercial facilities use oil/water separators to contain accidental leaks and spills.
Contaminated soil must be processed to remove the oil--sending it to a landfill will contaminate local groundwater. Arrange for a local environmental contractor to dispose of the soil. Spills on solid surfaces like concrete or asphalt can be contained with absorbent temporary berms and soaked up with absorbent materials like sawdust or fibers. All of these materials should be collected in a solvent-resistant container and processed separately from normal trash. Commercial "spill kits" are available in many sizes to fit any potential spill.
How to Prevent Oil Spills
Oil spills are hugely detrimental to the environment, polluting drinking water and destroying oceanic ecosystems. Governments spend hundreds of millions of dollars...
Hydrochloric Acid Safety Precautions
Hydrochloric acid -- or HCl -- is an acid that is highly corrosive when concentrated. Always handle it with care to prevent...
How to Prevent Chemical Pollution
Chemical pollution is harmful to humans, animals and the environment. Acid rain, ozone depletion and greenhouse gases can be limited by taking...
About Oil Spills
Oil spills are terrible environmental disasters that wreak havoc on marine ecosystems. International oil transports are vulnerable to extreme weather conditions, and...