- Home >
- Civil, Structural, Engineering Blog >
- How to Handle Oil Spills, Chemical Spills, and Gas Leaks
Environmental disasters come in all shapes and sizes. Whether they're the result of human error or brought about by a natural disaster, environmental disasters can often result in the exposure of hazardous substances into the environment. The remediation of a spill changes depending on its type, with environmental engineering professionals following a strict set of guidelines to address every issue,
Shield Engineering specializes in performing a wide array of environmental due-diligence services. Shield’s Action Environmental Group works to mitigate the effects of potentially disastrous environmental incidents. Here are three of the most common kinds of environmental spills our teams encounter, and how they’re handled.
Oil spills are extremely hazardous to the immediate environment. Depending on the scope, an oil spill can contaminate groundwater and have long-term negative effects on an area’s flora and fauna. There are several means of cleaning an oil spill, each dependent on the size of the spill, location of the spill, and immediate risks.
After a spill occurs, the priorities are to control it, clean it, and remediate it. Absorbent materials can sometimes be used to effectively manage small workplace spills. On a larger scale, chemical dispersants (and even biological agents) may be employed to break down the oil and speed up its degradation process. Long-term remediation often utilizes natural products like Peat that contain hydrocarbon-eating bacteria which will eventually help lessen the oil’s effects.
Chemical spills can be incredibly dangerous. Often the result of industrial accidents, chemical spills can cause immediate harm to both people and the natural environment, and those effects can be long-lasting if the spill isn’t mitigated quickly. Major considerations include toxicity, flammability, and corrosiveness.
On a small scale, such as in a laboratory, chemical spills can often be cleaned up using absorbent rags and proper segmentation. For large-scale chemical spills, a more comprehensive approach of neutralization and mechanical absorption may need to be applied. Chemical spills of any notable size are required to be reported immediately to applicable regulatory agencies such as the EPA.
Gas leaks can happen when manmade structures fail, such as natural gas pipelines, or through natural means, such as radon gas leaching through the floor of a building. Methane, hydrocarbons, and VOCs are some of the most common culprits behind gas leaks. The gas itself directly affects the proper form of mitigation.
Most leaks are contained by pinpointing the source of the leak, stopping the flow of gas, and allowing the gas to dissipate into the atmosphere over time. Some leaks, such as radon leaks, must be considered holistically as a component of construction; solutions such as air filtration systems make excellent long-term answers to an ongoing issue with gas.
Environmental spills are nothing to take lightly. From gas to oil to caustic chemicals, no two spills are exactly alike. If you have questions about a spill-related issue, or for information on engineering and construction services designed to reduce the risk of environmental contamination, reach out to Shield Engineering and/or the team at Action Environmental today.