Proper Handling, Storage, Deployment, and Maintenance of Oil Spill Containment Boom

In this industry, it’s pretty common knowledge to know what oil spill containment boom
is and what it’s used for. If there is a large spill on water, boom is a widely used tool to contain
the situation and this is for good reason. Containment boom is durable, rugged, easily
transportable, and decently quick to deploy in a timely manner. But what many of us may not
know is just how much effort goes into properly handling, storing, deploying, and maintaining
this significant containment device. Here is a list of helpful tips to make sure your boom’s
lifetime is as long as possible.

The handling portion of this list mostly applies to when new boom is being unwrapped
for the first time after shipment. More often than not, containment boom is loaded onto pallets
for transportation and covered with some sort of woven synthetic geotextile or plastic. The most
important thing to remember when unwrapping your boom is to do so in a carefully thought out
manner as to prevent cutting the fabric of the containment boom. While this fabric is pretty
hardwearing and resistant, it is not indestructible. This fabric can be cut and sliced if handled
improperly. This material can also be damaged if the boom is dragged, pulled, or ran over so
please be sure to lift the containment boom when transporting it from one place to another. This
is will ensure the integrity of the material to be long-lasting.

Now that you’ve got your boom carefully unwrapped and moved to the proper location,
it’s time to focus on how to appropriately store your product until it is time for deployment.
First, if you are re-storing used boom please make sure that it is clean and free from all
contaminants as these will cause damage to the integrity of the materials over time. As for the
location in which to store your boom, make sure that it is always out of direct sunlight. UV
radiation is harmful to all fabric, even some such as durable as containment boom fabric. UV
rays will actually act as a bleaching agent over time and not only fade the material but wear out
the durability and shorten the lifespan. It should also be elevated as to prevent mildew from
ground moisture and the possibility of rodent infestation (if planning to store for a long period of
time, it is recommended to use some type of rodent prevention product, also). The last critical
part to storing is making sure that the boom sections are stacked in overlapping segments to
prevent twisting and knotting during storage. This will make it much easier to deploy when the
time comes.

With this being said, there are several different product options available to make sure
that the boom is protected from the elements, but each has their particular strengths and
weaknesses. First, an aluminum or high-grade plastic container is good for holding small
sections of containment boom. While this is one of the more secure ways to protect the boom, it
is limited in space and generally recommended only for small sections of containment boom that
is made up of smaller diameter floats. The second option would be to house the containment
boom on a deployment reel. This is especially helpful in making sure that the boom is elevated
and does not knot or tangle easily. Boom reels are particularly practical when using inflatable
boom. However, the downside to housing the boom on a deployment reel is that the large
majority of these reels are outside near the deployment site and therefore the boom would be
exposed to UV rays without some sort of UV protective cover. The third option would be to
stack the containment boom (like the photo below demonstrates) and then place them inside an
enclosed or covered trailer. This storage method is extremely useful when you need to respond
to a spill that is outside the immediate vicinity of your housing location. However, this again
means making sure the boom is covered and stored in a dry area. The final product option we
will discuss in this article is that of the boom storage rack. These are metal racks capable of
holding the boom towards the center of each section to ensure they are elevated, dry, and that
any compression load is relieved during storage. However, just like any storage option there are
downsides to the rack, as well. The first is that they can be very bulky and therefore not
recommended with areas of limited space and the second is that they are better suited for either
inflatable boom or boom with smaller diameter floats, similar to the reels.

As you can see, there are many options for storing your boom from reels to racks and
even trailers, but there is no official right way to store your containment boom. As long as your
boom is covered, elevated, and stored in such as way as to reduce knotting it should be protected
and maintain a long lifespan.


Since you have now been storing and handling your boom properly and there is no
knotting or sun damage, you are ready to deploy when you receive the call. Now, there are
different methods for deploying depending on the situation, type of spill, and body of water.
However, there are a couple of cardinal rules that should be followed to ensure the protection of
your containment boom no matter the situation. First, your boom should never be anchored or
towed by its tension members. This creates too much stress in these areas and will cause
unnecessary damage. Secondly, tow bridles that match the exact size and type of coupler should
only be used to transport and deploy the boom. This ensures that all stress and tension is
distributed evenly across the boom. If these two rules are followed, along with the proper
techniques needed for the situation, your containment boom shouldn’t take on any unnecessary

Now that you know how to properly handle, store, and deploy your boom it’s time to talk
about maintenance. Cleaning your boom after deployment is crucial and also much easier than
you may think. You do not need to go out and purchase any heavy-duty cleaning chemicals and
cleaning solutions. In fact, these will actually do more harm than good! All that is needed is a
mild detergent and a medium bristled brush. Power steam cleaning, while not prohibited, should
be done with caution since weakened seams and welding points may separate due to too much
heat and pressure. Simply rinse your boom thoroughly, allow to dry, and inspect for damage
before storage. Adhesive and hot air fabric repair kits are always available to repair any
sustained damage to prevent the need for another purchase of boom.

Oil spill containment boom is a long-lasting and resilient product that will provide years
of service when it is taken care of properly. If you make sure to follow these steps you should
get many uses out of yours.

Written by: Logan Armstrong, Marketing Manager, ACME Environmental