Magnets Against Oil Spills
Our magnets can be used for hundreds of applications. One of those is to secure oil containment booms to the hullside of a ship that is leaking oil. We were invited to present Blumags to the personnel responsible for the local oil spill response in Hvaler, close to the Swedish border.
To people living in the picture-postcard archipelago of Hvaler, the threat of spills is very real. This marine natural reserve saw the grounding of the 17,000-dwt Icelandic containership Godafoss in 2011. Luckily, the leak did not become as severe as initially feared, partly thanks to the oil containment booms that were quickly deployed by the Norwegian authorities.
In Norway, the responsibility for municipal oil spill response is clustered into thirty-two so-called IUA units (intermunicipal committees for acute contamination). Each unit maintains a depot of equipment necessary for quickly preventing and containing an oil spill, ready to be deployed at any time.
When ships collide or run aground and start leaking oil, a common method to prevent the spread is to surround it with containment booms. Quite often, bollards on deck of the ship itself are used as the anchoring point for each end of the boom.
Enter: Blumags. By attaching a magnet at the waterline, one can completely close the gap between the boom and the hull side. This gap may otherwise be quite substantial on a vessel with a large freeboard height. A separate rope is tied around the boom end to keep it close to the magnet. Alternatively, the boom end can be tied directly to the magnet. In case of a large tidal range, the boom can travel up and down along a rope between two magnets.
As of last week, the unit responsible for the area surrounding Hvaler (IUA Østfold) has two of Blumags' Willy 500 kg | 1100 lbs units along with their oil boom.
On September 15th, IUA Østfold was practicing at deploying the boom, in a drill led by Magne Berg at the Norwegian Coastal Administration. We at Blumags were there as well, to demonstrate the magnets that were recently delivered, explain how they stand out from the competition and show how to use them safely (which is actually quite easy).
"The fact that your magnets are built inside a stainless steel housing makes them a valuable piece of equipment in our preparedness toolbox”, said Berg afterward. “We hope we will never need them, but when we do, we’ll be happy that we have them here.”