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Oil Spill Prevention & Oil Spill Response

Oil is the most common pollutant in the oceans. More than 3 million metric tons1 of oil contaminate the sea every year. The majority of oil pollution in the oceans comes from land. Runoff and waste from cities, industry, and rivers carries oil into the ocean. Ships cause about a third of the oil pollution in the oceans when they wash out their tanks or dump their bilge water. Oil spills account for less than 15% of the total oil in the oceans but are probably the most obvious form of oil pollution. The damage caused by oil spills is certainly seen right away. We've all seen images of the water's surface and shoreline covered with oil and dying animals and plants. Oil spills will continue to be problem and source of pollution as long as ships and barges move most of our petroleum products around the world.

When oil leaks or spills into water it floats on the surface of both freshwater and saltwater. Oilfloats because it is less dense than water. When these two liquids are mixed together, the denser seawater forms a layer underneath the less dense oil.

It's much easier to clean-up an oil spill because of oil's lower density. You can imagine how difficult it would be to clean-up a spill if oil was denser than water and formed a layer along the bottom instead of the surface. We humans have come up with some pretty creative ways to clean-up spilled oil and we've described some of the major methods below.


Listed here are the three categories of mechanical tools used to contain and recovery spilled oil.

Booms: It's easier to clean-up oil if it's all in one spot, so equipment called containment booms act like a fence to keep the oil from spreading or floating away. Booms float on the surface and have three parts: a 'freeboard' or part that rises above the water surface and contains the oil and prevents it from splashing over the top, a 'skirt' that rides below the surface and prevents the oil from being pushed under the booms and escaping, and some kind of cable or chain that connects, strengthens, and stabilizes the boom. Connected sections of boom are placed around the oil spill until it is totally surrounded and contained.

Marichem Oil Booms                   Product Code: 686868

Marichem Marigases Oil Boom 1 is the newly developed boom from our company.

Its height is 90 cm and it is a heavy-duty vinyl polyester product that is resistant to heavy sea conditions, abrasion, weather, marine life growth and chemical dispersants.

Marichem Marigases Oil Boom 1 is approved for use from the Greek Ministry of Mercantile Marine according to EU regulations.

Skimmers: Once you've contained the oil, you need to remove it from the water surface. Skimmers are machines that suck the oil up like a vacuum cleaner, blot the oil from the surface with oil-attracting materials, or physically separate the oil from the water so that it spills over a dam into a tank. Much of the spilled oil can be recovered with skimmers. The recovered oil has to be stored somewhere though, so storage tanks or barges have to be brought to the spill to hold the collected oil. Skimmers get clogged easily and don't work well on large oil spills or when the water is rough.

Sorbents: These are materials that soak up liquids by either absorption or adsorption. Oil will coat some materials by forming a liquid layer on their surface (adsorption). This property makes removing the oil from the water much easier. This is why hay is put on beaches near an oil spill or why materials like vermiculite are spread over spilled oil. One problem with using this method is that once the material is coated with oil, it may then be heavier than water. Then you have the problem of the oil-coated material sinking to the bottom where it could harm animals living there. Absorbent materials, very much like paper towels, are used to soak up oil from the water's surface or even from rocks and animal life on shore that becomes coated with oil.

When it's time to clean up or remove oil from land or water, Marichem Oil Spill Absorbents are the best alternative. Convenient, lightweight and cost-effective, Marichem Oil Spill Absorbents absorb up to 25 times their own weight in petroleum products. Additionally, Marichem Oil Spill Absorbents are equally effective in soaking up petroleum based solvents and paints, vegetable oils and other non-water soluble chemicals. The deployment of the absorbents not only is easy but also is saving time, money and resources. Marichem Oil Spill Absorbents will not absorb water, will float indefinitely, are wringable, dustless, unaffected by temperature, flame resistant and impervious to both rot and mildew.

There are non-toxic to the environment.

Marichem Oil Spill Absorbents are approved for use according to EU regulations.

The different types of Marichem Oil Spill Absorbents are the following:

i.Pads 100/Pads 200
These pads are hydrophobic, they float on water and are used for absorbing petroleum-based fluids. Can be used on land or water and they are recommended for use on oil spills. These oil absorbents are always easily placed and retrieved. Our pads come into:

- Pads 100 (100 pieces of pads together)
- Pads 200 (200 pieces of pads together)

ii.Boom 510
Boom 510 absorbents are plastic net tubes filled with sorbent material. The boom is flexible so it can be adapted to fit in waste water or holding ponds. Connectors at each end allow the linking together of several booms to provide a continuous chain of protection, permitting containment and absorption of a spill. This oil absorbent boom may be left deployed almost indefinitely.

It is the best product for emergency spills on water. It absorbs petroleum-based fluids. Our boom comes in the following size:
Boom 510 (5 inch diameter)

iii.Roll 30
It is a sorbent material that can be used for lying over and covers the contaminated, from oil spill, area. Also it is ready to be cut to any configuration or torn into the appropriate size for use around industrial equipment to protect floors from oil or chemical leakage. Great for over sprays next to leaky equipment.

iv.Pillow 10P
They are sorbent materials packed into open weave poly-mesh bags that allow passage of oil for more complete saturation. There are ideal for use in bilge areas of ships and also for absorbing oil spills in seawaters.Clip attached for easy use and removal.

v.Pom Pom
Pom poms were developed for the recovery (adsorbent) of crude oil. They are operative even in subfreezing conditions and will recover from 20 - 60 times their own weight, depending on the viscosity of the oil. They are the best solution in order to fight heavy oil spilled on the water and shorelines. An excellent oil adsorbent solution for recovery of viscous oils on piers, bulkheads, marsh and rocky shoreline environments. They are especially designed for viscous oil clean up and are non-toxic, non-scattering, wringable and inert. They have applications in both small and large spills and are cost effective adsorbents.

Oil Spill Kits                   710701 (7 BARREL OILCLEANKIT),   711201 (12 BARREL OILCLEANKIT)

MARICHEM OIL SPILL KIT is a complete unit of mixed equipment specifically made to use on board merchant vessels in conjunction with OIL SPILL EMULSIFIER and MARICHEM OIL SPILL DISPERSANT for cleaning up spills at sea, on board and/or at shore by the vessel's crew. MARICHEM OIL SPILL KIT is engineered, designed and manufactured under high quality standards in order to fulfill IMO and OPA 90 regulations.

According to OPA 90 U.S. Coast Guard regulations, paragraph 155205, Tanker vessels, which are 400 feet or greater in length, must provide oil spill cleaning equipment on board equivalent to handle 12 barrels of oil spill. Tanker vessels smaller than 400 ft in length and all dry cargo must provide oil spill cleaning equipment on board equivalent to handle 7 barrels of oil spill.

In order to satisfy this need, MARICHEM MARIGASES provides two types of Oil Spill Kits: 7 Barrel Oil Clean Kit & 12 Barrel Oil Clean Kit.


Chemicals, such as detergents, break apart floating oil into small particles or drops so that the oil is no longer in a layer on the water's surface. These chemicals break up a layer of oil into small droplets. These small droplets of oil then disperse or mix with the water. The problem with this method is that dispersants often harm marine life and the dispersed oil remains in the body of water where it is toxic to marine life.

Marichem Oil Spill Dispersant                   Product Code: 832076 (30 lt),   832176 (210 lt)

MARICHEM OIL SPILL DISPERSANT is the new, 3rd generation dispersant, approved as Type II and Type III from the Greek General Chemical State Laboratory. Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. It can be used concentrated or diluted at a ratio of 1:10, depending on the level of contamination. It is an efficient and environmental friendly product containing no hydrocarbons.It has been specifically designed for oil dispersion at sea, at shore and in port, either on- or off-board.

The major characteristics of this product are as follows:
- It is non-toxic to marine life.
- It converts oil spills to small droplets that are easily biodegradable.
- It minimizes environmental damage.
- It does not contribute to pollution.
- It is cost effective and economical.
- It is easy to handle and apply.
- It is applicable to mineral oils, crude oils, fuel oils, kerosene, white spirit and lubricant oils.

Marichem Oil Spill Emulsifier                   Product Code: 832023 (30 lt)   832123 (210 lt)

Oil Spill Emulsifier is a superior product specifically designed for oil dispersion at sea, at shore and in port concerning both on-board and off-board treatment. High standards and specifications have been incorporated to engineer this environmentally safe product.

The main characteristics of this product are the following:
- It is non-toxic to marine life.
- It is highly effective for oil spills at sea, on seashores or on solid surfaces such as docks, decks, piers, wharfs, ship hulls etc.
- Promotion of oil-dispersion into microscopic droplets so that the maximum surface area is available for fast bacterial degradation.
- It is tested and approved by many different regulatory agencies.
- Its cost is effective and economical.
- It is applicable to mineral oils, crude oils, fuel oils, kerosene, white spirit and lubricant oils.


Burning: Burning of oil can actually remove up to 98% of an oil spill. The spill must be a minimum of three millimetres thick and it must be relatively fresh for this method to work. There has been some success with this technique in Canada. The burning of oil during the Gulf War was found not as large a problem as first thought because the amount of pollution in the atmosphere did not reach the expected high levels. Field-testing is needed to check the feasibility of this technology.


Bioremediation: There are bacteria and fungi that naturally break down oil. This process isusually very slow- it would take years for oil to be removed by micro-organisms. Adding either fertilizer or micro-organisms to the water where the spill is located can speed up the breakdown process. The fertilizer gives the bacteria and fungi the nutrients they need to grow and reproduce quicker. Adding micro-organisms increases the population that is available to degrade the oil. A drawback to adding fertilizers is that it also increases the growth of algae. When the large numbers of algae die they use up much of the oxygen so that there isn't enough oxygen in the water for animals like fish.

Over time, a number of things can happen to oil that has been spilled. The oil may evaporate, reach the shore and cover beaches, remain suspended in the water for long periods, or sink into ocean sediments. The problem of cleaning up oil often becomes more difficult the longer the oilis in the water.


Pollutant: Any substance that contaminates or makes the environment impure. Pollutants arecommonly man-made wastes.

Density: The mass or quantity of a substance per unit of volume (m/V). The relative heaviness of a material or how compact or crowded the molecules are in the material.

Absorption: The process of taking in another substance, in the same manner that a sponge would.

Adsorption: When a liquid or solid takes up a substance and holds it on its surface, so that the substance coats the molecules of the solid or liquid.

Dispersant: A chemical or material that when added to some other substance causes it to break apart and scatter about.

Bioremediation: Using natural biological processes to correct or counteract an environmental hazard or ecological disaster. An example of bioremediation is adding fertilizer or bacteria to the water to help clean-up an oil spill.

Ecosystem: An ecological unit of all the living organisms plus the nonliving, physical environment and how they function together.