Widespread use of booms
The US authorities made widespread use of booms to protect the shoreline. Over 3,000 km of containment and sorbent booms were deployed during response. A portion of these booms was regularly destroyed by high winds. To provide better resistance to the winds and currents rife in certain narrows between the islands of Louisiana, and to prevent the pollutant from penetrating highly sensitive marshlands, an original and impressive system was set up. Known as the rigid pipe boom, it consisted of assembling several kilometres of metal pipes equipped with skirts and positioning them between a double row of metal stakes driven into the mud, using a crane.
Shoreline erosion prevention measures
In order to prevent shoreline erosion, geotextile socks filled with a mixture of sand and cement were deployed, as well as Tiger Booms, long double-chambered booms, similar in appearance to shore-sealing booms, but filled with sand. These two systems positioned parallel along the beaches were doubled up with sand bunds.
Manual and mechanical recovery using sand screeners was completed in places with sand washing machines. This technique consisted of mixing sand with hot water (without additives) to cause the oil to rise to the surface, before centrifuging the mixture to recover the “spun” sand.
An original system: constructing sand berms to trap the oil
On 27th May 2010, the response command granted permission to construct a sand berm on each side of the Mississippi Delta along shorter length than that initially requested (80 km instead of 206 km). Sand was removed by dredging, not close to the berms - so as not to damage the nearby coastline - but from a few clearly identified areas of accumulation (subsea, offshore, and in the Mississippi bed), and was transported by barges to be deposited on the shoreline, using pumps, so as to form a berm in front of the islands, with a height of 1.8 m above the waterline. This $220 million project was entirely funded by BP.
Dozens of Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Teams (SCAT) methodically inspected the shoreline in detail: all information acquired was sent to the relevant command centres, enabling each State to assess the situation and define response techniques and priorities.
Crowds of manual collectors paced the beaches every day to recover clusters of pollutant: most often patches and tarballs, sometimes even micro tarballs. Due to the extreme heat, tents were put up every 500 metres along the beaches of Louisiana where responders could take regular breaks.
Training has been organised by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for personnel employed by BP for shoreline clean-up and response at sea. OSHA comes under the US Department of Labor and its mission is to ensure safe and healthy working conditions. The agency has distributed thousands of booklets on Safety and Health Awareness for Oil Spill Cleanup Workers and fact sheets for all those (including volunteers) involved in shoreline clean-up and response at sea. These documents were jointly produced by OSHA and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), one of the institutes which make up the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
The documents have been printed in the 3 languages used in the US states of the Gulf of Mexico: English, Spanish and Vietnamese.