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How is the oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico being contained and cleaned up?

Collecting and processing spilled oil at sea is a difficult task. No more so when the oil is still leaking from the spill site.

Recovery teams are currently working against the clock in the Gulf of Mexico trying to contain and clean up such a leak after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on the 20th of April.

What devices are being used to contain the oil from the spill in the Gulf of Mexico?

It is extremely difficult to collect and process oil under the water surface, but on the surface things can be done. There are currently over 250 vessels in the Gulf of Mexico, just focussed on containing and cleaning up the spill. Some are using booms to collect the oil on the water surface. The booms used are systems of floats with water draughts and weights that collect the oil as they are pulled along by vessels. Nearly 200 miles of boom are currently being using to stop oil reaching the US coastline.

Another method being employed is the use of skimming devices that float on the surface of the water. They use brushes to ‘brush-skim’ the surface and have so far collected about 90,000 barrels of spilled oil-water mix.

Chemicals which disperse the oils are also being sprayed using aircraft and ships to try to break down the oil. And lastly, controlled burns of the oil on the surface have been tried but they are difficult to control and contain an associated risk of toxic smoke.

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