Maine DEP Ships Boom to Help BP Contain Spill

Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) crews recently loaded 13,900 feet (more than two miles) of oil spill containment boom onto tractor trailers that will transport the equipment to the Gulf of Mexico.

DEP signed an agreement to provide British Petroleum with the boom for use in the Deep Water Horizon oil spill. That agreement provides for BP to replace DEP’s boom within the next two years.

Last month, DEP compiled and published a list of equipment and staff available to help with clean-up efforts. The list includes oil skimmers, a 30-foot oil spill response boat, and two workboats on trailers, pumps and hoses, as well as 8 to 10 trained responders. BP requested the boom a few weeks ago, the other equipment and offer of personnel is still available for use by states affected by the spill.

DEP separated and stored the 13,900 feet of boom in warehouses in Bangor and Portland so that BP could arrange for pick-up. “We are glad that the oil spill containment boom will be put to use where it is needed most right now,” said Barbara Parker, DEP’s director of Response Services. “We have additional equipment and trained staff ready to go when and if the states call and ask for it.” DEP staff was integral in the recent Spill of National Significance (SONS) exercise lead by the U.S. Coast Guard off the coast of Maine in March. The exercise was designed to prepare responders for a major oil spill which would require multi-agency efforts.

Oil spill containment boom is made of an impervious material such as polyvinyl chloride and acts as a barrier. It is used to protect an area, such as blocking oil from entering a marsh or inlet; it can also be used to direct the flow of oil into or away from an area. It is constructed so that there will be a portion of the boom above the water and a portion below the water. There is always a floatation component as well. The floatation can be foam, air, or plastic like in globe boom. Globe boom gets its name because the flotation is circular black plastic that looks like a globe. The boom is kept in place in the water with anchors that are attached to the boom with ropes. Oil spill containment boom acts as a barrier in the water preventing whatever is floating in the water from going past it. The effectiveness of this barrier is greatly affected by current, wind and wave action.

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