Over the past 12 months we have seen a steady increase in poor quality imported marine booms used in the Australian environment and this proves to be a worrying factor for anyone trying to contain and clean-up an oil spill.
Many imported absorbent booms have an inability to absorb heavy fuels and oils due to design weakness and poor quality absorbent. Imported boom have a close knitted outer mesh with a weak tensile strength. These factors result in the outer mesh being easily tore open and allowing internal loose fibre to spill into the environment. The spill responder now has two spills to recover.
Secondly, the internal material is very important when absorbing heavier fuels and oils. Australian marine booms, just like the ones manufactured by Global Spill Control are supplied filled with superior 50mm wide Australian Made polypropylene.
These wide strips allow for better absorbency. If the polypropylene material inside the boom is packed too tightly, absorbency is restricted and the booms are ineffective. Most imported booms are this style.
Recently tests were conducted on imported boom and found the extremely fine polypropylene particles used resulted in "oil clumping" affecting the efficiency and effectiveness of the boom. We also found a large amount of lint or small poly particles being released from the boom onto the water surface.
This type of boom has recently been banned from use by a major company working in this sensitive environment.
These factors are seen to be quite a worrying prospect when you as a spill responder are attempting to protect the Australian environment.