A technology assessment was conducted to quantify the oil spill threat in fast waters, and then identify promising equipment and strategies for those threat scenarios. Recommendations are made to pursue methods, equipment, and training that show the most promise to improve response capabilities in currents from 1 to 6 knots.

Containment and removal of oil spilled in rivers and coastal tidal regions where currents exceed 0.7 knots is difficult because many skimmers and conventional booming methods are not effective in fast currents. The oil will generally entrain and follow the water path under the boom or skimmer for faster currents unless it is tricked by a device for deflection, containment, or recovery. This can be accomplished using specialized equipment and strategies; however, properly trained response personnel are essential. The benefits and liabilities of high speed skimmers and specialized boom systems that use a number of techniques are summarized.

Shallow-draft high-current boom can be used to deflect the oil to shore at steep angles where the currents are slowed by the rising shoreline and conventional skimmers can be effectively used. Promising deflection strategies are listed. Alternate containment and diversion techniques also presented include: pneumatic boom, horizontal air and water jets, plunging water jets, diversion paravanes, and floating paddle wheel.

This research was funded by the US Coast Guard Research and Development Center under contract DTCG39-95-D-E99010. It was completed while the author was employed by ManTech, Bethesda, Maryland. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the U.S. Coast Guard.

This content is only available as a PDF.