Oil Spill Glossary




Any process that causes one substance to penetrate the inside of another substance. In cases of oil spill cleanup, oil is drawn into porous sorbent materials.


A unit of area equivalent to 43,560 square feet.

Acute Pollution

Pollution that either last a short time or is very severe


A substance used for sticking materials together

Air pollution

Degradation of air quality resulting from unwanted chemicals or other materials occurring in the air.

Aluminum Angle Berm

Are designed with 6061 aluminum angles spaced between 18" and 24" depending on the height of the berm. The berms offer a range of 6" to 24" sidewalls in standard lengths and sizes. Berm will fold up for compact storage and can be set up in minutes.

Anchor Point

A structural point on an end connector or along the length of a boom section designed for the attachment of anchor or mooring lines.


Weight applied to the skirt to improve performance.

Ballast Water

Water taken on board a ship to control trim, list draught, stability or stresses of a ship.


Unit of liquid measure equivalent to 42 US gallons.

Barrels per day (BPD)

In the United States, a measure of the rate of flow of a well, total amount of oil and other fluids processed or transported in one day.

Beach Raking

Used to remove tar balls (coagulated oil) left on beaches after a spill can be picked up by simply raking the beach.

Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD)

The rate at which organisms use the oxygen in water or wastewater while stabilizing decomposable organic matter under aerobic conditions.


Process which utilizes the use of microorganisms or biological agents to break down or remove oil.


The process of accelerating the rate of natural biodegradation of hydrocarbons by adding fertilizer to improve nitrogen and phosphorus.

Blowout Preventer (BOP)

Known in the industry as a BOP, this is essentially an enormous safety value that automatically seals the well if there is a problem.


A device to contain oil on water without impeding the water.


A device attached to a boom to distribute the load exerted by towing or anchoring the boom.

Bulkhead Connector

A boom accessory that allows for boom to move vertically in a body of water.

Chronic Pollution

Pollution that is either recurring or continually present.

Clean Water Act

Passed in 1972, the objective of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, commonly referred to as the Clean Water Act (CWA), is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation's waters by preventing point and nonpoint pollution sources, providing assistance to publicly owned treatment works for the improvement of wastewater treatment, and maintaining the integrity of wetlands. NOTE: This act was amended in 1977 and 1987.

Containment Booms

Floating barriers that corral the oil and keep is from spreading thus making oil removal easier.

Controlled Burning

This can effectively reduce the amount of oil in water if done correctly. It can only be done in low wind and can cause air pollution.


A microprocessor that controls electro hydraulic valve functions.


Can be used to dissipate oil slicks and were widely used during the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. A dispersant is either a non-surface active polymer or a surface-active substance added to a suspension of particles. Dispersants can rapidly dispense large amounts of certain oil types from the sea surface by transferring it into the water column. They will cause the oil slick to break up and form water-soluble micelles that are rapidly diluted. Watch and wait method is also used. In some cases the best way to fight an oil spill is to rely on Mother Nature and natural attenuation of oil and this is most effective in ecologically sensitive areas such as wetlands.

Drain Plugs and Custom Fittings

Additional fittings and drains can be added to help effectively drain and transport spilled fluids.


Utilized for oils dispersed with detergents and other oils denser than water.


An excavation activity or operation usually carried out at least partly underwater, in shallow seas or fresh water areas with the purpose of gathering up bottom sediments and disposing of them at a different location. This technique is often used to keep waterways navigable.


Edge Skirt

Excess fabric welded to bottom of the berm that protects from wind uplift. The skirt can be staked down through the grommets on the edge of the skirt. If the surface is impenetrable, place sandbags onto the skirt to prevent uplift of the berm.


Wastewater or other liquid flowing from a reservoir or basin.

End Connector

A device permanently attached to a boom used for joining boom sections to one another or to other accessory devices.

Environmental Remediation

The removal of pollution or contaminants from environmental media such as soil, groundwater, sediment, or surface water.

Floatation Chamber

Enclosed compartment of air or other buoyant material providing floatation for the boom.

Floating Baffles

A guide or similar device constructed or placed in flowing water, wastewater, or slurry systems to cause more uniform flow velocities, to absorb energy, and to diver, guide, or agitate liquids.

Foam Wall Berms

Are enclosed or non-enclosed secondary containment berms with closed cell foam, square planks as the sidewalls. The berms offer a range of 4" to 12" sidewalls and cross seals allow for easing packing and setup. Non-enclosed foam walls are inserted on site while enclosed foam walls are sealed into place during the manufacturing process.


The part of the boom above the water that contains the oil and keeps from washing oil over the top.

Furling Lines

Are typically cable or rope attached from the top of the floating baffle to the chain ballast in order help with moving or de-silting the floating baffle.

Gross Buoyancy

The weight of fresh water displaced by a boom totally submerged.

Gross Buoyancy to Weight Ratio

Gross buoyancy divided by boom weight.

Ground Pad

Protect the bottom of the berm from the terrain with an 8 ounce geotextile pad. Ground pad dimensions match the berm's dimensions.


Any strap, handle, depression or other provision for grasping a boom by hand.


Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) set of guidelines produced and maintained by the Occupations Safety and Health Administration that regulates hazardous waste operations and emergency services conducted around inside of the United States and its territories. The auspices of this regulation are an effort for the US Government to regulate hazardous wastes and dangerous goods from the inception into society and their handling throughout the lifetime of that hazardous waste or material.

Heat Gun

Is a device used to emit a stream of hot air, usually at temperatures between 200 to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit

Heavy Duty Disposal Bags with Ties

Polyethylene bags that prevent tears, punctures and broken bags. Bags are used to store waste prior to disposal.


A location between boom segments where a boom can be folded back 180 degrees upon itself.


The work produced per unit of time.


A flexible line.

Hose Bridge

Welded aluminum tubing that protects berm walls from cables and hoses placed into the berm. Each unit is custom fabricated to hold the weight of hoses and cables while keeping the berm wall upright.


Operating by the pressure of a fluid.

Hydraulic Motor

A device for converting fluid energy into mechanical force and motor, usually rotary motion.


The engineering science of liquid pressure and flow.


Water repelling.



wastewater or other liquid flowing into a reservoir or basin.

Lifting point

a structural point on the end connector or along the length of a boom section designed for attachment of a lifting device, such as a crane.



continuous portion of a boom that serves as a barrier to the movement of a substance.

Miracle Sorb

Granular sorbent used to absorb oil in the case of a spill


Oil of any kind or in any form, including petroleum, fuel oil, sludge, oil refuse, and oil mixed with wastes other than dredged spoil.

Oil Absorbents

Any insoluble material used to absorb oil. Oil absorbents come in a variety of formats, including sorbent socks and pillows, absorbent pads, and particulate sorbents.

Oil Booms

Oil booms, commonly known as containment booms, are floating barriers used to contain and control the movement of spilled oil. Oil booms can also be used to protect sensitive areas.

Oil Containment Boom

An oil containment boom is a tool used to contain oil slicks for easier cleanup. Oil containment booms are made of a floatation member, skirt, ballast, and an optional tension member.

Oil-Only Sorbent Boom

5" and 8" diameter absorbent booms used to contain and absorb oil.

Oil-Only Sorbent Pads

17" x 19" absorbent pads used to absorb oil.

Oil Sorbents or Oil Absorbents

Often used to absorb the oil by collecting the hydrocarbons and not the water.

Oil Spill Cleanup

The collection and removal of oil that has been accidentally introduced to an environment.

ACME Oil Spill Response | Oil Spill Cleanup

All actions taken following an oil spill. Oil spill response may include assessing the impact, containment and recovery of the spilled oil.


Oil loving, having a strong affinity for it.

Oleophilic Skimmer

Type of skimmer that recovers oil that absorbs oil.


Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is an agency of the United States Department of Labor. Congress established the agency under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which President Richard M. Nixon signed into law on December 29, 1970. OSHA's mission is to "assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance". The agency is also charged with enforcing a variety of whistleblower statutes and regulations.


Oil Spill Removal Organization.


A piece of 22, 24 or 40 ounce fabric applied to a damaged piece of fabric on an oil spill containment boom.


Using air pressure to move or work.


Personal protective equipment (PPE) refers to protective clothing, helmets, goggles, or other garments or equipment designed to protect the wearer's body from injury. The hazards addressed by protective equipment include physical, electrical, heat, chemicals, biohazards, and airborne particulate matter. Protective equipment may be worn for job-related occupational safety and health purposes.


Forcer of a fluid per unit area, usually expressed in pounds per inch.


A device which converts mechanical force into hydraulic fluid power. Basic design types are gear, valve and piston units.


Reportable Injury

Employers, not employees, determine whether an injury is reportable. The employer may refer the employee to a doctor to determine if the injury is reportable to OSHA but is not required to do so. The injury must be work related. A work-related injury includes injuries or illnesses that are a direct result of the work environment of the employee. If an employee injures himself while on a break, the injury is considered work related and reportable as long as it occurred during normal working hours.

Reserve Buoyancy

Gross buoyancy minus boom weight.


A container for keeping supply of working fluid in a hydraulic system.

Retention Time

Average period of time wastewater stays in a treatment system.


A cylinder that rotates around a central axis used to apply pressure onto a patch for repairing a tear in an oil spill containment boom

Rubber Gloves

Used to protect hands while cleaning up an oil spill

Safety Glasses

Toughened glasses or goggles for protecting the eyes from splashes and irritating vapors.

Silt Curtain

A flexible fabric barrier attached to a floating boom that prevents the spread of solid particulate (silt) in the water. Silt curtains are often used near construction zones where large amounts of silt may be disturbed.


A device to remove oil from the water without changing its physical or chemical properties.


Requires relatively calm waters and can utilize mechanical devices that effectively remove the oil from water by skimming the oil off the surface of the water


The subsurface part of a boom that prevents oil from being carried underneath the boom.


Happens when solidifiers are composed of dry hydrophobic polymers that absorb. The cleanup of spills by changing the physical state of the spilled oil from a liquid to a semi-solidified or rubber like material that floats on water. Solidifiers have proven to be relatively non-toxic to aquatic and animal life. Some solidifiers are biodegradable and can be deposited in landfills.


Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure Rule provides requirements for oil spill prevention, preparedness, and response to prevent oil discharges to navigable waters and adjoining shorelines.


Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Plan. An oil spill prevention and control plan required by the EPA.

Spill Kits

A spill kit is a collection of items used for oil spill cleanup, packaged in a convenient kit which helps ensures immediate response.

Spill Response Plan

Oil spill response plans are predetermined instructions for oil spill response, including how to deal with a worst-case discharge scenario. Depending on the location, plans are reviewed by a variety of environmental regulatory agencies and must be kept up to date.


A component that provides support to the membrane.

Tension Member

Any component that carries horizontal (axial) tension loads imposed upon an oil spill containment boom.

ACME Toggle Pins | Oil Spill Cleanup

Hardware used to connect segments of containment boom couplers.

Total Suspended Solids (TSS)

Include all particles suspended in water which will not pass through a filter.

Track Guard

Protect berms from heavy truck traffic with ACME's reinforced belting guards. Each guard is 36" wide and extends an addition foot on each end of the berm. Track guards are ordered in sets of two.

Travel Bag

Custom 22 ounce PVC bag with handles that allow for easy transport and efficient storage. Travel bag not available for all berm types and sizes.



A device which controls either pressure of fluids, direction of fluids or rate of flow.

Vapor Sock

A urethane-coated fabric tube which covers vent tubes on petroleum tanks, controlling the release of contaminants into the atmosphere.


The gummy or sticky texture quality of oil. It depends on the type of oil molecule and the temperature.


The used water and solids from a community to a treatment plant. Storm water, surface water, and groundwater infiltration also may be included in the wastewater that enters wastewater treatment plant.

Weir Skimmer

Type of skimmer that allows oil to flow over the top edge of the weir into the collecting vessel.