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Expert Guide for Amateur Responders to Effective Oil Spill Response

guide to amateur oil spill response

They say that experts were once novices or beginners. But to be an expert yourself, some may say that you have a long way to go. However, as a beginner, do not be discouraged. There is a lot of room for improvement to someday be called an expert. But it does not mean that you can spontaneously keep on repeating the same mistakes when performing a hydraulic oil spill cleanup, especially when the future of a healthy environment is at stake.

Cleaning oil spills, especially large ones that are highly risky to humans, animals, and our ecosystem, is truly a huge challenge. If you are a beginner, these helpful insights and guides to effective oil spill response can help you a lot:

Risk Assessment

As much as you want to start the cleanup process at once, as a beginner, you have to determine or identify all of the hazardous substances and present conditions first. In that way, you can perform the cleanup with the utmost care and handling and manage any posing dangers. If the spill is highly life-threatening and requires a lot of manpower, call the authorities.


After the assessment of the risk, make your safety your priority when performing your duties. Amateurs should not only know the necessity of wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) but also about its importance. For either big or small oil spills, it is important to assume the worst and wear the highest level of protection. This step includes wearing the appropriate type of PPE and respirator.

Additionally, as part of your method of self-protection, you must undergo the necessary training to perform an effective oil spill response. Some responders sometimes go to extreme lengths and undergo extensive training to perform not just the basics but also master the steps in oil spill response.

Spill Confinement

After the necessary assessment and choosing the appropriate equipment to wear and need, confining the spill can commence. The sooner the spill is attended to, the smaller area will be affected and cleaned up. There are different varieties of practices and techniques when it comes to hazmat spill response, depending on how big the spill is.

Confining oil spills requires the appropriate absorbents and kits to absorb acids and other unknown liquids. Minimizing and placing barriers around the spill zone is conducted in this step to make sure that the affected area is far from waterways and drains. For amateurs, they are trained to create earthen dams or dikes to control the affected area.

Stopping the Source of Spill

The stoppage of the spill at its source may vary depending on the size of the spill itself. For leakage of oil from punctured drums or pipes, plugging the leak with the necessary material can help temporarily stop the source of the spill. The patch and repair method includes epoxy sticks, tourniquets, clay-based patches, pipe wraps, and other materials.

Spill Evaluation and Cleanup Plan

If the stoppage of the source is a success, it is time to evaluate the spill damage and come up with an effective cleanup plan. In cases such as large oil spills, vacuums are ideal for the large spill volumes. These are also best for cleaning highly toxic and flammable materials. However, standard vacuums are not safe.

Other effective methods used in oil spill cleanups include hair mats. Human hair mats have been scientifically proven to be a good material for cleaning oil spills and waste. Other materials include sorbent and synthetic materials, such as clay, peat moss, and foams and fibers.


The affected area should undergo the decontamination process to ensure the removal of hazardous materials and chemicals. The process still requires amateur responders to wear the necessary PPE.

Completion of Reports

Though the paperwork is not the responsibility of amateur responders, it is still important for them to know how it works. Because the paperwork requires their insights during the debriefing.

For any hydraulic oil spill cleanup immediately needed in your area, do not forget to contact GreenTech Spill Response. Reach us at 630-392-6844.

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