Hydraulic Engineering: The Importance of Oil Spill Capture Systems in Marine Life Preservation

09 October 2019

On land, consulting engineering services design working models, which grow into full-size constructs. Those structures drain stormwater into special ground channels and culverts. At sea, the challenges swing round by 180-degrees. It’s the water at sea that’s the subject of concern now. Estuaries, bodies of inland water, rivers, all of these natural environments fall into a special engineering category, but more on that topic in a moment. What about oil contamination?

Localizing the Source of the Contamination

Oily spills aren’t usually found in rivers or lakes. Not that these important waterways are immune to pollution, they can fill up with agricultural overspill and factory waste. With hydrocarbon spillage, however, that’s a uniquely sea-based issue. Sure, oil leaks happen on land, but they’re easier to manage. If an oil rig disaster occurs, the crude black stuff will enter the local marine environment. Likewise, if an accident takes place onboard a large oil tanker, the oily mess will endanger many square kilometres of marine life. Ruptured pipelines are yet another threat. Pipelines sometimes transport platform well oil to onshore processing facilities. If this flow line ruptures, the whole length of a once pristine beach could become an oil-slick sandlot.

Installing Oil Spill Capture Systems

So there are three threat points to address. There are offshore oil rigs, sea-going tankers and platform-to-shore pipelines. Knowing the possible threats, an engineering service can come up with an oil spill remediation plan. After the fact solutions exist. They include special spill clean-up agents and burn-off strategies. That’s not enough, though. We need solutions that’ll snare the crude oil before it can enter a delicately balanced biosphere. These systems are in place as temporary measures, as floating booms and skimmers, which are engineer-approved resources. More relevantly, however, consulting engineers install permanent oil spill capturing mechanisms. Still, these measures are incredibly hard to apply at sea.

Layers of crushed stone and clay bedding prevent transformer leaks and oil refinery ruptures from damaging their surrounding environments. The thing is, these measures don’t work at sea. With the rupture directly in contact with open water, people feel helpless as they watch the black pollutant spill out. As liquid petroleum contaminates the water, local marine life experiences the deep impact of the spill. Coastal birds can’t fly, fish and seafloor dwellers asphyxiate, and all local marine lifeforms are forever affected by the discharge. Hydraulic engineering experts have a tough job. They’re expected to come up with a strategy, a mix of booms and barriers, pumps and bio-emulsifiers, which can disperse the oil. Beyond these measures, the engineers are asked to project the impact of the spill, to monitor its effects on the ocean floor or a specified coastal region.

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