Oil Booms FAQs

Oil Booms FAQs

What do oil booms do?

Oil booms are deployed to contain oil that has been spilled in aquatic environments. Oil booms create a flexible, floating barrier that surrounds an oil slick at the surface. Once contained, cleanup crews can use the oil booms to concentrate the oil to aid in mechanical removal by skimmers or suction devices. Oil booms can also be used to protect sensitive environments, shorelines, and property from further damage after a spill.


What are oil booms made of?

Oil booms are comprised of a floatation member, skirt and a ballast member. A tension member is often times added to the boom to increase the tension strength of the oil boom. Oil boom floats are made from closed cell foam. The size of the oil boom float varies depending on the operating environment and float sizes can vary from 2.5 inches to 18 inches in diameter. Oil booms are made from a variety of PVC coated fabrics but the industry standard for oil spill cleanup is a 22 ounce PVC coated fabric. ACME’s 22 ounce Jaton coated fabric is specially designed to resist tears and protect against UV or hydrocarbon damage. Chain ballasts keep the skirt vertical and also acts a tension member.


What are the benefits of using oil booms?

Oil booms offer an effective way to contain and corral oil on water. Oil booms are also simple to customize for any application.


What types of oil booms exist?

Oil booms include inland/nearshore oil booms and offshore oil booms. Smaller floatation members and lighter weight ballast are used for inland/nearshore oil booms. These types of oil booms operate well in light wind and small waves. Offshore oil booms have a larger floatation member and much heavier ballast members.


Where can oil booms be used?

Oil booms can be used in any aquatic environment, but are most effective when the correct oil boom type has been employed. Super mini oil booms are designed to be used in stagnant or low-volume water environments. Small oil booms are ideal for lakes and ponds with little to no wind or current. Mid-sized oil booms can be used in larger bays and harbors, or anywhere with moderate current. Open ocean, large wave zones, or high wind areas benefit from large oil booms, and may also require anchor systems to keep the oil boom in place.


What factors determine what type of oil boom to use?

Environmental factors such as waves, wind, and current are important factors when considering an oil boom. Open ocean sites tend to have larger waves, and more unpredictable weather patterns and therefore offshore oil booms are required. Small protected harbors, lakes, and shoreline sites generally have calmer waters and require smaller inland oil booms.


How do oil booms vary?

Oil booms can vary in floatation member size, skirt length, ballast member, fabric and section length. Oil booms come in a large variety of sizes and specifications due to the diverse operating conditions across the world.


What oil boom fabric options does ACME offer?

ACME offers two different fabrics that make up the oil boom skirt, Jaton Coated fabric, and Jaton Plus Coated fabric. Jaton Coated fabric comes standard in yellow or orange. Regular Jaton is recommended for oil booms with limited UV and hydrocarbon exposure. Applied coating prevents damage from punctures, abrasion, tears, or thermal shock. Heavy duty Jaton Plus Coated fabric comes standard in orange, and is designed for use in oil booms with prolonged UV and hydrocarbon exposure, extending the life of the oil boom used in these situations by up to 50%.


What types of oil booms does ACME offer?

ACME offers a wide variety of oil booms ready for any application. The smallest oil boom, the super mini oil boom, has a float size of just over two inches. ACME’s oil booms are also available in 4 inch, 6 inch, 8 inch, 10 inch, 12 inch and 18 inch float size. ACME also carries a perma-boom for long-term oil boom usage.


What oil boom accessories are available?

ACME also offers a full range of accessories to complement our oil booms. ACME’s tow bridles, bulkhead connectors, anchor systems and fabric repair kits aid in proper boom deployment, maintenance and repair. ACME’s oil boom storage options include reels, storage boxes, and customizable trailer packages. No matter what your oil boom needs are, ACME has you covered.


How should oil booms be stored?

Oil booms should be clean and free of contaminants when stored. Oil booms should always be stored out of direct sunlight as UV radiation shortens the fabric life. When possible, boom should not stored directly on the ground to prevent mildew and rodent infestation. When storing boom for long periods, rat poison should be placed with the boom. When boom sections are continuously connected end-to-end, it is critical to prevent twisting or knotted overlapping if boom is to be rapidly deployed again in the future.


What accessories are needed during deployment of oil booms?

Care should be taken when deploying oil booms for both the safety of personnel and to prevent unnecessary damage to the boom. Oil booms should not be anchored or towed by its tension members. Tow bridles made from extrusion matching the boom coupler type should be used to evenly distribute loads to the oil boom during deployment and use.


How should oil booms be maintained?

Harsh chemicals and fuels should not be used to clean booms. An oil “stain” is far less harmful to the boom fabric than the damage diesel does when scrubbing the boom down. A mild detergent and medium bristled brush are ideal. Power steam cleaning should be done with caution as weakened seams and welds may separate from heat and pressure. Rinse boom thoroughly, allow to dry and inspect for damage prior to storage. Adhesive and hot air fabric repair kits as well as hardware and fittings are available or ACME can perform repairs at our manufacturing plant.

Get the most out of your oil boom. Oil boom is a rugged and durable product that, when properly handled and maintained, should provide years of service. ACME personnel are always ready to answer any questions you may have regarding our products.