Skip to main content

Responding to Spills

Adapted from NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration

Larger oil spills are a hazard for people and wildlife. Spilled oil must be removed from the environment. Emergency response teams are called in to do the work. There are several ways to clean up oil spills. This diagram explains four of them.

1. Shoreline Flushing

Hoses rinse oil from the shore. The oil is washed into the water. It’s more easily collected there.

2. Booms

Booms are floating barriers. They are used to stop oil from spreading on the water’s surface.

3. Sorbents

Sorbents act like sponges. They absorb oil but do not pick up water.

4. Burning

Newly spilled oil can be set on fire. This helps remove the oil that is floating on the water.