How have Spill Cleanups Evolved Over Time?

From oil spills to chemical spills, these incidents can cause significant damage to people, the environment, and local communities. Over the years, there have been some large-scale spills which have made worldwide news and created long-term consequences. Off the back of these events, the success of the cleanups have provided learnings which can be implemented by businesses of all scales, providing insight into the different strategies that can help avoid disaster through innovative technologies and quick action.

The Corsica oil spill, 2018

When a Tunisian vessel and a Cypriot container ship collided in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Corsica, approximately 600 tonnes of heavy fuel oil was spilled into the ocean. To minimize the significance of the threat to marine life as much as possible, dispersants  were used to help break down the oil slick. The cleanup efforts were carried out by multiple nations in response to the environmental emergency that was raised across the countries involved, preventing it from spreading further and minimizing the impact on the biodiverse marine habitat.

The Tianjin port explosion, 2015

A series of explosions occurred at the container storage station in the Port of Tianjin, China, which killed 173 and injured hundreds more. The larger of the explosions released widespread hazardous chemicals following the ignition of around 800 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, contaminating the densely populated surroundings. The community got involved in the cleanup process to minimize the potential health risks they were exposed to and experts carried out a range of decontamination processes. Advanced technologies allowed for  chemical degradation and soil washing to be carried out, removing the contaminated debris from the area to protect both the residents and the environment.

The Mayflower oil spill, 2013

A large amount of heavy crude oil was spilled into a residential neighborhood following the burst of an ExxonMobil Pegasus pipeline. A combination of community leaders and local environmental experts joined forces to configure a cleanup plan that aimed to overcome both environmental and social damage. As well as immediate cleanup efforts, a long-term plan was needed to protect the ecosystem and the well-being of the local residents, monitoring the area over time.

The Bhopal disaster, 1984

Being one of the world's most devastating industrial incidents to date, the Bhopal disaster saw a gas leak at a pesticide plant in India cause the deaths of over 3,700 residents from surrounding towns and caused lifelong injuries to thousands more. The aftermath caused mass disruption and rehabilitation programs were introduced to support those affected, facing complex challenges due to the scale of the incident. Since then, there have been changes to regulation which introduced more rigid safety standards and emergency response protocols within the chemical industry.

The Yellowstone river spill, 2011

Following a ruptured oil pipeline in the Yellowstone River in Montana, over 63,000 gallons of oil were spilled which posed a huge threat to the local ecosystem and contaminated the water supply of nearby homes. To minimize the spread of the oil downstream, absorbent materials, such as booms and sweeps, were used to remove as much oil as possible from the surface of the water. After this, the water quality and wildlife was continually monitored to keep an eye on the long-term effects.


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