Vacuum_TrucksPetroleum companies have been responsible for causing several environmental catastrophes. There are many accounts of oil spills that have occurred on both land and at sea and have resulted in the massive devastation of marine life. Thankfully, vacuum trucks are available to clean up the mess and lessen the negative impact these disasters have on the environment.

Four Large Oil Spills

  • Amoco Cadiz – In 1978, the tanker Amoco Cadiz ran into the coast of Brittany due to a steering problem complicated by a severe storm. The ship carried 240,000 tons of light crude oil and that entire payload was spilled into the English Channel. Clean-up efforts were slow, due to the severe storm. Nearly 200 miles of the French shoreline were covered with an oil slick, putting it at the top of the list for the most marine life killed in a single spill.
  • Castillo de Bellver – In 1983, the tanker Castillo de Bellver caught fire near Saldanha Bay on the South African coast. With no hope of dispersing the fire, the ship was abandoned and left to drift ashore. The ship later capsized and sank into the ocean carrying 110,000 tons of crude oil. Some of it leaked from the ship and washed up on nearby shores.
  • M/V Haven Tanker – In 1991, a poorly maintained tanker called M/V Haven broke down and exploded off the coast of Italy. Efforts to tow the ship failed and it eventually sank along with its payload. Before the ship sank, Italian authorities were unable to put out the fire.
  • Gulf War – The 1991 Gulf War saw one of the biggest oil spills in history. Sadly, this catastrophic incident was manmade. As Iraqi forces were fleeing from American troops, they opened the valves of wells and pipelines as a move to slow down the pursuing troops. As a result of their action, 240 million tons of crude oil were released and eventually leaked into the Persian Gulf.

The Role of Vacuum Trucks in Recovery

During these crises, vacuum trucks served as the primary equipment for damage control. Even though some of these incidents took place at sea, massive amounts of crude oil eventually washed onto nearby beaches, where it had the potential to cause damage to existing marine and shoreline animal life.

Vacuum trucks are charged with the task of removing an oil slick that covers the beaches. Using the vacuum units of these trucks, slicks and contaminated sand are easily suctioned and stored in the tanks of the vehicles. This mixture of oil, seawater, sand and rubble is then transported to treatment plants to be separated. Most of the fuel can be salvaged, while the treated water, sand and rubble can be returned to the beaches.

Even with the best of precautions, the risk for another spill will always exist. Despite safety regulations, there are many factors that could trigger another spill such as human error, environmental factors, and war. Thankfully, vacuum trucks are available to protect shorelines from the damaging effects of these catastrophes. One cannot help but wonder what the petroleum industry would do without them!