The Costs and Risks of Oil and Fuel Field Spills

Since there’s often a lower volume of storage and a greater focus on production on the oil field, many operators and owners wonder why they need to be so concerned with spills at all. Oil field and platform spills do tend to be smaller than tanker or storage facility spills by volume, but their placement in sensitive environments can amplify the effects. Even small volume leaks have lasting effects that come with some hefty fines and costs. Weigh these expenses against the price of installing secondary containment at an oil or fuel field.

Damage to the Soil

The primary risk of an oil or fuel spill on land is damage to the soil. Oil seeps in between soil particles and remains trapped for years unless remediation is performed. Unfortunately, remediation for gas and oil spills primarily involves removing the contaminated material and burying it in a sealed vault on the site or elsewhere. This wastes valuable ground that could be reused later for other purposes like building or agriculture. Every prevented spill that stays trapped in the secondary containment system protects the soil for decades or even centuries to come.

Effects on the Water

Oil degrades a little faster in water due to the microbes found in the sea, creeks, and lakes, but it’s still toxic to life in the water. Spills near or in the water can wipe out all life from the tiniest plankton to the largest mammals if the oil or gas isn’t promptly cleaned up. It may seem like the opposite of what you’d want but causing the oil to sink and settle on the bottom of the water can actually reduce its negative effects. Yet, whether you’re scooping the oil up or trying to disperse it, there are high costs associated with these treatments. Even with cutting edge remediation tactics, waterways often stay impacted by oil spills for years to come.

Potential for Air Pollution

A spill that stays contained within a properly lined basin can still contaminate the air around the oil field if it’s allowed to sit and evaporate. That’s why one of the five tenets of secondary containment for oil and fuel is prompt cleanup of all spills. Most oil and fuel products are reactive enough that they quickly begin releasing gases that are hazardous to human, animal, and even plant health. Multiply the effects of gas production by dozens of individual spills across a large oil field and you can see the massive effect it could have. Design your secondary containment system so that spills are cleaned up easily enough that air pollution doesn’t become a problem.

Human and Animal Health Hazards

Long-term exposure to oil and gas waste products and spills have been documented to cause many conditions in animals and humans. Skin irritation, headaches, reproductive issues, and even neurological issues can all arise if animals and humans routinely make contact with the gas and oil products. Secondary containment should always be designed with fences, deterrents, and warning signs so that no one mistakes a spill basin for a swimming pool or drinking water source. Install pumps and sealed drainage containers, if necessary, so that evaporation doesn’t create air quality issues to irritate the lungs of birds overhead or the workers on the oil field.

Fines and Fees

The fines and fees levied for each spill depend on the volume and the affected area. For example, a spill of thousands of gallons that makes it into the nearby river will generate a much larger federal and state fine than one that is contained successfully. Using EPA recommended containment measures, that also meet all state regulations, can protect you from these fines but not completely. Set aside the funds to cover unpredictable emergencies like lightning strikes or earthquakes that can overwhelm even the best designed containment systems. You don’t want a single unforeseen emergency to shut the oil field down due to regulatory costs. Factor in the actual costs for remediation as well, which are often as high or higher than the fines from the EPA.

Products like BTL Liner’s ArmorPro are more affordable than you might think once you compare its cost to that of a single spill. Containment is an investment in the ongoing success of any oil field. Don’t let regulations and fines interrupt your business when proper spill containment is easily installed long before operations begin. Shop our selection of RPE liner products that are fuel and oil resistant to find the right one for your project.

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ArmorPro is built with the toughest materials for absolute and total containment.

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