Essay On Treatment of Petroleum Contaminated Soil

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The petroleum industry is often considered as one of the main environmental polluters and for this reason, there has been increased attention in ensuring that there is environmental protection during different petroleum activities. During the exploration, well simulation and oil and gas production there is a certain amount of waste that is produced. By using injection technology, the petroleum industry is often able to inject into the suitable underground geological formations the waste of the petroleum industry where it initially originated. However, there are times that the injection technology goes wrong, and a lot of petroleum waste is spread onto the soil. When this happens, there is a need to ensure that the soil is cleaned up by any appropriate method. Other than injection, there are also oil spills that, unfortunately, find their way into the soil. These oil spills are extremely dangerous, and it is imperative that an action be taken as fast as possible in a bid to ensure that the soil is ready to use for either farming or any other required purpose (Dhir, 2003). The soil contamination can be described as an environmental concern, and it has known to lead to serious problems of groundwater contamination. This paper discusses the different ways in which soil that is polluted with petroleum can be managed and treated.

Petroleum industry waste

Drilling during oil as well as natural gas exploration and production often produces considerable quantities of rock cutting that are coated with residual amounts of drilling mud. This involves lubricating the fluid and preventing the well bore that collapse while drilling. The drilling process is often considered as the main technological waste that comes from the petroleum industry, and this is opposed to secondary fluids that do not present any environmental problem (Dhir, 2003). The bigger problem that often lies in the secondary fluids includes inorganic and organic acids, oil gels, and the carbon IV oxide. The amount of waste that is produced during the exploration and production activities in many cases depends on a range of exploration and reservoir engineering activities, production conditions, work over operations and formation characteristics. As the different and diverse hydrocarbon reservoirs are developed, water that co-exists with natural gas and oil in the reservoir is eventually brought to the surface. In fact, in the oil fields, quantities of water that are produced increases when the reservoirs of oil are depleted. This presents a problem because in many cases the water is contaminated with petroleum wastes and it gets into the surrounding areas soil. There have been a lot of waste problems in regards to the petroleum industry. The most affected area after the oceans by petroleum is soil. In the majority of cases where an underground tank is removed or a pipeline moves, soil contamination is discovered.

Soil contamination

Soil contamination often occurs when petroleum storage as well as handling systems often leaks the fuel consequently spills, and it contaminates the surrounding soil. When this action occurs, the soil often acts as an on-going source of contamination that may be needed to be remediated in order to prevent it from continuing to be a source of pollution. Emergency spill incidents often involve sudden release of petroleum products often require immediate action in order to stop the spill (Dhir, 2003). There is a need to contain as well as recover what has been released and then continue to begin the process of remediating the affected area. There are often basic steps when it comes to the responding to spill incidents during time critical moments. There is a need for oil companies to have a comprehensive action plan ahead of time for responding to spill incidents that occur to the facility.

Emergency procedures on an petroleum spill

In a case of a spill, there are qualified and well equipped personnel should be sent in to stop the leak or spill. This often includes the turning off the different nozzles and valves from leaking container and it also involves the plugging or patching puncture type holes, cracks, tears and all the possible. If a leak or spill cannot be stopped safely, there is a need to catch the liquid using several variety of containers, dams, dikes or even booms that are available. This involves the controlling of the source in combination with the confining of the released material. This in turn will minimize the environmental damage as well as cleanup costs. The second step involves the recovering of all the free liquids using several appropriate pumps using vacuum trucks or even the use of sorbents (Dhir, 2003). The spreading of sorbent material such as sand, straw, wood and synthetic pads can be used in order to help contain the released petroleum. In many situations, there is a need for immediate action in order to recover the contaminated environmental material. It is imperative that the petroleum soaked soil be excavated as well as containerized quickly before it is given a chance to migrate at any significant distance.

This either includes the ground surface in a vertically downward movements towards the soil or the spreading of the soil horizontally to other areas. The recovered contaminated environmental media should be placed into appropriate containers such as tanks and drums and should be transported to a disposal facility. The location of the spill incident may at times require the contaminated environmental media be transported to a secure location for temporary storage pending characterization and disposal. The temporary stockpiling of contaminated environmental media in some areas other than an area where the spill might occur and might contaminate underlying soil or the different surrounding surfaces, and it requires storage areas.

All the materials that come into contact with the released petroleum and everything from the earthen berms to different absorbents and it is potentially hazardous waste. Once the emergency is under control, the materials that are gathered characterized and containerized should be appropriately disposed. It is of the essence to note that highly flammable products and those that contain significant quantities of benzene should be regulated as a characteristic of hazardous waste. The constituents that make petroleum product a hazardous waste are in many cases highly volatile and it might help evaporate during the course the cleanup effort and it renders the remediation waste as a solid waste when the different sampled for disposal purposes. Similarly, it is imperative to understand that the products that are soaked in a soil to the extent that free liquids do not drain them often exhibit longer hazardous waste.

All the waste including sorbent materials that are recovered from the contaminated media such as soil should be properly containerized as well as characterized in readiness for disposal. There is a need to create samples that are representative of the waste material that are being disposed. The samples should be collected from the contaminated portions of the accumulated materials that are used in order to minimize the loss of volatile constituents (Dhir, 2003). The number of samples that are collected should also adequately characterize the volume of material that are excavated. For materials that are described as potentially hazardous, for example, soils that are extremely contaminated with petroleum, the stockpiled contaminated media should always be characterized as well as containerized. The containers should include run offs, tanks and drums. This should occur within 72 hours of the generation, and it potentially requires the expediting of samples for further analysis. There should be permanent stockpiling as the contaminated environment media if it is temporary stockpiled means that it might contaminate underlying the soil in surrounding surfaces (King, 2010).

If the remediation waste is determined to be extremely hazardous waste and it exhibits a characteristic of ignitability then the recovered liquid such as gasoline cannot be reused or recycled without first being treated of the toxicity (Friend, 1996). On the other hand, it the testing reveals the remediation wastes are non-hazardous, then several options might be said to be available in order to ensuring that the party that is performing the cleanup is able to effectively manage the waste. Some options for the management petroleum contaminated soil often include thin spreading of small quantities of the different portions of the contaminated soils on the ground in a bid to enhance the biodegradation of the different petroleum constituents. The compositing is important as it enables the promotion of the microbial degradation of the different constituents. Further, thermal treatment of the facilities are often specifically designed in order to ensure that the soils are treated effectively, and there is the disposal at a permitted landfill by the relevant authorities. The options often either reuse or manage the contaminated soil onsite, and it should be approved by the state prior to the implementation of all the techniques used.

Testing is often needed in order to delineate the extent of contamination in soil as well as ground water and to confirm that remedial actions which successfully removes all different contaminations that are approved above cleanup levels (Dhir, 2003). The techniques employed are often similar to the traditional methods however characterize contamination at several release sites.

Petroleum spills and their chemical composition

The story of petroleum can be described as a story of waste. It is important to consider the volumes involved. Canada often provides at least 3.5 million barrels per day, and this is the reason as to why the country is the seventh largest oil producer in the world (Friend, 1996). Consumers often rarely consider the large amounts of wastes that are created by the industry as it brings out its output to the population. At each and every stage in the petroleum manufacturing stages, considerable volumes of waste often needs to be treated. There are several ranges of wastes such as upstream oilfield wastes, well site construction, seismic surveys as well as the fraccing liquids. These production wastes often include salty byproduct water and contaminants like gunk in different tailing ponds. There is, therefore, a need to ensure that the wastes that are produced are well treated and managed in a carefully arranged manner.

The exploration, production and distribution of petroleum and petrochemical products results into what can be described as the generation of considerable volume of waste oil sludges. These sludges often come from a variety of sources which include storage tank bottoms, oil-water separators and also dissolved air floatation units. The composition of the sludges often varies with their origin and storage condition which might contain to around 10 to 30% of hydrocarbons, and the remainder is water (Dhir, 2003).

The chemical composition often differs especially in terms of petroleum sludges. There are a variety of physical, chemical as well biological approaches that are often taken in order to ensure that the refinery sludges do not land in the soil and surrounding areas. In many countries, the sludges are often accumulated in large lagoons, and some of them are used in the remediation of residually oily sludges. The attempts to process the sludges often uses centrifugal methods in order to separate the oil, water, solids and is highly capital intensive (King, 2010). This often not consistently effective, and this produces residual solids that are of high petroleum and hydrocarbon content. Another option is often to direct the oily sludge to the delayed cooker, however, this might at times degrade the sludge quality, and this reduces its economic value (Friend, 1996). Foul odors are often reported when it comes to the coke product that comes after sludge injection, and it can often result in the operator’s complaints. The sludge injection in most cases requires modifications in order to ensure that sludge is well treated (King, 2010).

Land surface treatment

One of the most practical ways for treating petroleum contaminated soils are by land surface treatment where petroleum contaminated soils are applied onto the soil surface periodically turned over and tilled in order to aerate the contaminated soils. This is often done in order to enhance the volatilization and biodegradation processes in the soil. It is of the essence to note that in order to facilitate prompt remediation of the soils there is a need to thinly spread the sol and to dice and re-till it regularly. Tilling of the soil is of the essence as it helps in ensuring that there is volatilization of the lighter portions while the remaining compounds are able to be immobilized within the soil mass and they are also broken down biologically. There are several naturally occurring soil micro-organisms such as fungi and bacteria to combine with oxygen, sunlight and moisture in order to biodegrade the petroleum product. Soils that have been successfully remediated are often acceptable for reuse either at an intermediate level or even at a final municipal disposal waste sites.

Biological processing

The use of biological processing to treat waste or waste contaminated material is often well documented. The bioprocessing involves the exploitation of abilities of indigenous and augmented micro-organisms in order to that the organic substrates are metabolized. It can often be done by in land based environment such as land farming, bio-piling, and composting. There are cases where the contaminated material might be treated in the slurry bioreactors in order to degrade the petroleum hydrocarbons (Friend, 1996). The process of correcting the soil that has been contaminated with petroleum can be done by the process of land farming. This process has been implemented worldwide as a means of biological treatment and several disposal oily sludges. The sludges are often sprayed on the land together with fertilizers, and the soil is often tilled in order to promote the activity of the natural soil microbial population for the purposes of degradation of the different and diverse hydrocarbons.

Although the land farming method methods have been hugely implemented and it is a low cost method it often requires strong and long treatment time because of the variation that exists in terms of pH, moisture levels, natural microbial activity and temperature. The lack of uniformity when treating the soil often causes high contaminant concentrations and toxicity in the soil that at times could be prohibitive. Most of the limiting factors are however eliminated when it comes to the employment of bioreactor technology (Friend, 1996). It eliminates the need to spray the different high concentrations of petroleum hydro carbons on large areas of the land. The bioreactor based process can be characterized by higher rates and it extends of degradation as compared to absorption of contaminants by continuous mixing. Further, there is a need to ensure that the controlled environmental as well as the nutritional factors such as moisture, bioavailability of nutrients and oxygen which help in the promotion of microbial activity and growth.

The metronome process

The metronome process is another effective method in the management of reactor based microbial process that is used in the treatment of petroleum and oily sludges. The petrozyme process often uses advanced fermentation technology in order to degrade petroleum hydrocarbons when it comes to the sludge producing a non-hazardous effluent with the different levels of hydrocarbons. The main and core technology that is used in the petrozyme process often involves the high rate of biodegradation of the different hydrocarbons in the bioreactor by using naturally selected and it acclimated several indigenous bacterial culture that is supplemented with a designed blend of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphate.

The reactor design and process operating conditions often promote growth of highly active population of microbial. The microbial population often converts the petroleum hydrocarbons into carbon dioxide and water. However, this process has been deemed too expensive especially when it is done in a large scale format (Friend, 1996). There have been pilot scale testing and full-scale operations which have demonstrated that petrozyme’s bioreactor based process can be described as being technically advanced, it needs to be regulated in a cost effective manner.

The process is often easy to use, and it is robust in order to accommodate oily sludges with several varied compositions. The toxic, as well as the mobile hydro-carbons, are effectively degraded and treaded as non-hazardous for a low-cost disposal.

Land surface treatment for soils that are contaminated with petroleum is often effective as it helps the soil to vent off quickly and reliably destroy petroleum contaminants. This method has negligible impact on ground or surface waters, human well-being and the milieu. The leaching of adulteration from the petroleum polluted soils often reach the underlying soils. However, with land surface treatment the contaminated soils can be effectively held and contained in the site. The larger the petroleum stacking rate in the initial stages and the initial soil volumes the more time and exertion the management of the soil requires. The contaminated soils should not be applied in any thickness that is greater than the soil levels and can be wholly bowed over with several passes of the tilling equipment used.

Soil removal

Soil removal can be described as the best method for soil cleanup, a decision that must be made in ensuring how the soil will be effectively managed (Friend, 1996). Once the soil is removed, it can be adequately treated, or a sample can be taken and the treatment that is need for that particular soil found out. If the precautions are to be taken seriously then there is a need to prevent adverse environmental impacts or even nuisance conditions. Stockpiling of the contaminated soils can be described as being conducted on a temporary basis while they make arrangements for disposals and treatment. During this time, the soils should be placed within a secure, beamed area, and it is covered at all times.


Landfills are becoming restricted by the day and the cost of disposal often goes up. Ideally, no contaminated soils should be disposed of in a landfill because the results in the problem being moved from one place to another (Friend, 1996). Also, other problems with landfill in the future might be the cleanup of the landfill and level of disposing of the contaminated soil in the landfill that is held partially responsible for cleanup costs.

The above ground biological treatment can be described as an excellent treatment for gasoline contamination and works relatively well for waste oil, diesel and heavy hydrocarbon contamination that does not aerate readily. The above ground biological treatment often results into the destruction of contaminants, and this method reduces the long-term liability and therefore provides a better environmental solution (Ronneau, 1997). However. Therefore, the bioremediation is often relatively costly when dealing with soil contamination. The services of a qualified consultant are often necessary for the design of an appropriate and effective treatment system.

Thermal treatment

Thermal treatment is often preferred over the process of aeration as well as landfill disposal. The treatment method at times may try to reduce the future liability of the contaminated soils. The contaminated soils are often treated on site through the use of a portable mobile unit, or it is transported to a stationary facility (Friend, 1996). It is of the essence to note that the mobile unit is especially useful when it comes to the sites that are remote from a permanent thermal treatment facility and landfill. However, there is a need to ensure carefully that the treatment site is suitable for the treatment equipment. A stationary facility often operates similar to the landfill from a user perspective. One should provide the facility with information about where the contaminated water should be from a user perspective. One should provide the facility with sufficient information about the contamination levels.

The stationary facility In order to properly understand the site, the land submission spot should be clearly marked with flags or stakes. The stakes should all remain in place during the treatment of the contamination of the soil until all the remediated soil has been removed. It is of the essence to note that the soils should be tilled as soon as it is practically possible that is within 48 hours of the contamination. Further, there are several things that should be added into the soil in order to enhance the decomposition of the petroleum.

These materials include organic materials and fertilizers and are often added before and after soil spreading. Further in order to ensure the hydrocarbon cessation, the soil management layer should be effectively and thoroughly aerated through the processes of tilling approximately once in every two weeks in order to optimize the hydrocarbon breakdown as well as satisfy the oxygen demand for the process. It is important to understand that frequent tilling might cause excessive volatilization and might create excessive drying, as well as dust problems (Bamborough & Domínguez, 2008). For this reason, excessive aeration should be prevented as much as possible. Further, there is a need to ensure that there is frequent tilling because when the process is infrequent this might not provide the adequate aeration that is needed for mixing particularly in regards to the heavy textured soils which may at times slow down the hydro-carbon breakdown (King, 2010). Even after every step, aeration should be continued until all the hydrocarbon concentration decreases into acceptable levels.

There are several things that should be taken care of, for example, odors that are generated from the treatment site might be described as the highest peak during the initial spreading of the contaminated petroleum soils as well as initial tilling operations. Odor that is generated is often extremely temperature dependent (Dhir, 2003). The odors that are generated should be treated with a matter of urgency. In most instances, when it comes to the breakdown of the petroleum residues one growing season is enough. However, this is often dependent on the nature as well as the concentration of the original petroleum materials. Further, the number of environmental factors also plays a very huge role when it comes to this aspect. The land surface treatment of the petroleum polluted soil can be said to be a representative of a cost effective method of remediating soils that have been polluted with petroleum. However, it is of an essence to understand that this process is not appropriate when it comes to when there is liquid petroleum on the site.

Calculation of wastes

There is a need for calculating the amount of waste and this should always be done. The accurate measurement of waste can be described as difficult If not impossible because o he varied nature of waste as well as the difficulties that are often posed by the presence of several solid materials. There is a need to use the best available measurement technology for the given circumstances (Bamborough & Domínguez, 2008). The measurement of the waste material is extremely important as it often ensures the people managing the waste to understand how much they are dealing with and consequently they can be able to create a program by which they can implement. Further, appropriate components of the waste should also be determined, for example, the amount of petroleum that exists, the amount of water and the amount of solids. The representative samples should be properly centrifuged in order to determine the proportionate quantities of each and every component (King, 2010).

All solid wastes are often required to have an effective hazardous waste determination method. The petroleum contaminated materials are often solid wastes, and when they are actively managed as wastes, they can be able to be excavated for both treatment as well as disposal. Sampling and analysis are of importance as it conducts the sampling procedures that is used, and it is often dependent on the matrix such as soil and water (Ronneau, 1997). There are common materials that can be contaminated with petroleum, and they include media such as soil, gravel, water and sand. The media and debris from an underground tank are often subject to corrective action in order to test the toxicity characteristic of the soil. There is a need to create a fill where there is existence of solid wastes such as sand, stone, soil, brick and rock (Dhir, 2003).

Fill that is not hazardous may be used for other purposes such as erosion control, channel stabilization, roadbed preparation and erosion repair. All the provided wastes that are used in the different activities should not be mixed with other solid wastes and, therefore, should not be handled inappropriately and should be disposed effectively (King, 2010). This is because it might have the potential to cause contamination that might at times threaten human health or even the environment. Regardless of the source, a petroleum contaminated material that whether hazardous or not should be handled as such. This ensures that the people dealing with waste can be able to deal with the waste appropriately.

Environment and Technological disposals

Environmentally and technologically sound disposal of oil spills is extremely essential when it comes to the minimizing of environmental damage from the oil spill. The very nature of oil spill emergency clean-up is important as it has the potential to contribute to the implementation of less than adequate disposal practices (Bamborough & Domínguez, 2008). In case of an emergency situation, there is need to have sufficient time and resources in order to evaluate the suitability the alternative disposal options that exist in the area and to effectively choose what one offers the best conditions for different environmental protection.

Further, in addition to the securing of appropriate approvals there is a need to dispose of the waste in a way that will be appropriate (Ronneau, 1997). It is, therefore, of importance in the strategic planning purposes, and the different relevant authorities to consider appropriate disposal methods and therefore, create suitable sites for temporary storage as well as disposal within several varying jurisdictions. There is a need to take into account the different possible ranges of sizes and types of petroleum spills that are likely to occur and the type of environmental harms. Given the volumes of petroleum that are often transported worldwide on a daily basis, there is a need to have a realistic spill response strategy in order to recognize that a major spillage could occur at any place or time in the estuarine and coastal waters (King, 2010). In the recovery of the petroleum or the dispersion at the sea at appropriate or feasible options there is a need to have ensure that petroleum does not reach the store.

The petroleum is usually emulsified and contaminated within a variety of solid that complicates disposal and handling. In the event of a petroleum spill at sea, it often takes time for the petroleum to reach the shore and the length of the coastline that is affected and it in many cases depends on an amount of interrelated factors. There are a lot of factors that affect the extent of oil spillage, firstly, there is the tidal conditions, the prevailing wind direction as well as efforts to contain and disperse the petroleum at sea (Dhir, 2003). Further, there are several factors that affect the amount of petroleum that is beached as a result of the spill in the sea.

This often includes the rate of evaporation of several crude oils and it evaporate within the first 24 hours and refined products and may at time evaporate completely. Petroleum that is collected from the surface of the sea can often contain debris and this petroleum often washes to the shore. The collection and disposal are often greatly complicated within the variation in waste composition and appropriate disposal techniques that have to be selected for the different circumstances. Other wastes that might require disposal include sorbent material, and in practice often includes combination of the different particles (Bamborough & Domínguez, 2008). When removing sand and structural material from the soil it should be remembered that a minimum volume should be taken in order to preserve integrity of the beach and to minimize volume of waste that requires disposal.

It is of importance to understand that spills can occur at different isolated and inaccessible parts of coast, and therefore, it might be difficult as well as expensive to collect and transport the material to several ongoing storage sites (Ronneau, 1997). The emergency storage of liquids as well as solid waste issue often needs to be quickly addressed as there is a need to understand the site and the nature of the spill. Relatively cheap as well as simple short-term emergency storage can often be provided by digging pits in the ground as well as the lining of the base and walls with several heavy gauge petroleum in oil permeable materials such as PVCs. The long narrow pits are often more practical as they are easier to dig, fill as well as employ themselves. During the recovery operation of petroleum, vacuum trucks that have large quantities of free water which can be collected with the oil unless the oil layers are thick (King, 2010).

Before the permanent removal of the material from the pits, it is of importance to collect the oil and leave behind the free water. This might be achieved through actual skimming of the surface of the pit by using a skimmer and then transferrin the collected petroleum into a second pit.

In certain circumstances the material that is contaminated with 5% of the oil which can be left to degrade naturally. If the spill is at a remote or even at an isolated location, it is worth considering the possibility of allowing a natural process to proceed and continue to reassess the situation as the conditions continue (Bamborough & Domínguez, 2008). There are several petroleum management techniques, firstly; there is a gravity separation. This process is important, and it separates the oil that is present in the water and it is skimmed off, and this is dependent whether or not it is emulsified. It is often important in the process to avoid or even minimize the pumping of mixtures of petroleum and water before the gravity separation can be effected (Ronneau, 1997). The collected water and oil mixtures should be allowed to separate into the layers of the collecting device; this might be a vacuum truck, static tank and wagon. The lower aqueous layer that is in the soil can be pumped out.

At remote sites, improvisation may be necessary in order to achieve maxim oil recovery as well as minimize the volume of the oily waste, and it might transport to the intermediate storage. If the terrain permits, damming can be carried out in order to contain the petroleum and then picked up by vacuum trucks (Dhir, 2003). Small floating skimmers are often available commercially, and it can be used with a vacuum truck. Alternatively, a baffle with a weir arrangement can be organized in order to make –shift separator in cases where the soil has been polluted, and there exists a hazard can be used. In the process of spreading, the low molecular petroleum begins to evaporate, and emulsions occur. The emulsions often cause serious operating problems, as well as a reduction of water content to around 2%, and it might be necessary to allow subsequent reprocessing by allowing viscosity. However, it is important that during the petroleum spill disposal stage even a small reduction in water content decreases the transport as well as storage requirements by reducing the volume to be managed and it will ease handling and improving permeability.

The Deepwater Horizon petroleum spill

The Deepwater Horizon petroleum spill often referred to as BP oil spill started in April 2010 in the Mexico Gulf. The horizon oil spill claimed over 11 years and is often considered as the largest accidental marine that occurred in the oil spill in history of the whole petroleum industry. The deep water horizon spill spread to the shore and affected the soil; it started after the eruption and dipping of the deep water horizon oil rig (King, 2010). From that point on, there was a flow of oil under seas for about 87 days. The total discharge that came from the leakage was about 5 million barrels. There was a massive response that ensued in a bid to protect beaches, estuaries and wetlands from the spreading of oil, and it utilized skimmer ships, different floating booms as well as controlled burns (Ronneau, 1997). The extensive long spills to the soil affected the growth of plants, and there was a need to ensure that it was indeed cleared up as fast as possible. Oil cleanup crews worked for several days in order to clear the 55 miles of Louisiana beach through several weeks. It is important to understand that there was a need to ensure that everything went according to plan, and this is the reason as to why there was a need for coordinated efforts from different parts of the government.

The deep water horizon explosion and subsequent spilling of around five millions barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico shows he extent to which petroleum and oil spills can happen. It goes without say that as long as humanity continues to drill for oil, and given the current boom of the industry post spill, there will be definitely other accidents in the future. The oil spill was extremely catastrophic, and there is a need to understand that there is a need to do more in terms of innovative solutions that will help reduce the impact of the next spill. Research has indicated that a spill solution may be sponge that is made from pure carbon nanotubes, with a dash of boron added which can absorb around 100 the weight of the petroleum (King, 2010).

It has been proven that sucking off oil at the surface of the soil or even water is important. The carbon sponge is extremely effective in the management of petroleum that has been spilled on the soil. Secondly, there is the use of extreme spill technology. For example, one of the deterrents that were used to clean up the gulf spill was the wildness of the ocean (Bamborough & Domínguez, 2008). The rough seas in the ocean made it impossible for the standard booms, as well as skimmers, to effectively operate (Ronneau, 1997). However, the extreme spill technology can be able to do the job as it uses boats that can withstand waves that are even 10 feet tall. This technology should be implemented in order to ensure that indeed there is no oil that reaches the shore and affects the soil.

It has been recently determined that there are no petroleum spills that are the same, and this is often because of the petroleum types that are involved, the location, and the weather conditions. There are four main methods of response in recovering oil spills. In the management of the petroleum spill in the soil, it is often advisable if the leak is not too much to leave it alone in order for it break down by natural means. The best method if the leak is small is to leave it in order to disperse by natural means, a combination of wind, sun, wave action and current wave and this rapidly disperses and it evaporates most oils. Different light petroleum oils can evaporate with a combination of sun, and wind action. However, it is extremely difficult to use this method if the soil has already been contaminated, and it has trickled down into the soil. In this case tilling, can be the only method that is used in order to ensure that the soil is turned up and down in order to aerate it (King, 2010). This will be of the essence because it gives the bacteria oxygen, and it can be able to effectively decompose the hydro-carbons. It is of importance to understand that in every spillage there are often different things that occur and there are several factors such as temperature, the amount of bacteria, the amount of spillage and the type of petroleum that has spilled.

Use of Dispersants

There is a need to use dispersants in order to breakdown the oil as well as speed the natural biodegradation (Ronneau, 1997). The dispersants in the soil can be used by reducing the surface tensions which stops oil and water that exist in the soil from mixing. The small droplets of petroleum are formed, and they help in the dilution of the water in the movements. The formation of the droplets often increases the surface area and, therefore, this increases the exposure to natural evaporation as well as bacterial action. The dispersants are often most effective when they are used within one hour or two when the initial spill occurs.

The successful dispersion of petroleum through the soil many at times affect marine organisms like earthworms. It can be at times used temporarily accumulated by several sub tidal seafood (Bamborough & Domínguez, 2008). There are several decisions like whether or must to use the dispersants to combat the different oil spills, and it be made in each and every individual case. The decision often takes into account time when the first spill occurred, the weather conditions and the type of petroleum that has been spilled. Dispersants are often said to simplify the assimilation of oil by the microbes (King, 2010). There is a need to mix the dispersants with oil underneath the shallow and in theory, and it permits microbes to précis the oil before it has reached the surface of either water or soil. Various risks is often identified as well as evaluated in specific that an increase in the microbial activity might reduce oxygen levels, and it threatens animals and plants (Dhir, 2003).

Soil aeration

Soil aeration that is done at a lower cost treatment option is by no means what can be described a no cost procedure. Soil aeration often involves more than just the spreading or piling the soil and letting it all sit in (Ronneau, 1997). The process often requires the use of several specific controls to prevent the creation of other problems and considerable work that is needed to ensure that the treatment is effective when it comes to the reduction of contaminant concentrations in acceptable level. Soil aeration should include several active treatment measures such as the use of popes and pumps in the air through the soil. This aeration is extremely effective as it helps the soil to be well aerated. Further, the solid waste is brought up to the surface, and it can be decomposed effectively by the biological decomposers.

Finally, one might decide to introduce several biological agents in order to hasten the biodegradation process. Most of the components are often petroleum washed along a shoreline, and it can be broken down by bacteria as well as other micro-organisms into harmless substances such as carbon dioxide and fatty acid (Bamborough & Domínguez, 2008). This decomposition is a natural process and can be speeded up by addition of several fertilizing agents such as phosphorous and nitrogen. This is important as it helps stimulate growth amongst different microorganisms that are present (King, 2010). However, the effectiveness of this process depends on the factors on the ground that is being treated. There are other things such as whether or not the fertilizer is water soluble, and it is applied either in pellet or even in liquid form.

The final disposal method should often be considered includes direct recovery of product, and it includes processing of oils to different saleable products, fuels, incineration and with biological degradation. The adoption of a single technique should always be avoided because the best results are often obtained by using several methods in a series. The prime aim should often to recover the oil for re-use and the destructive methods such as incineration used as a last resort. There are various methods of petroleum spill debris disposal methods that have are often practiced (King, 2010). The most common forms are land farming that include oily wastes that are often spread and are mixed with soils in order to promote aerobic microbial degradation. Secondly, there is the landfilling with refuse, this often constitutes the use of oil spill debris being incorporated into an active landfill together with industrial wastes. Petroleum spills the debris should be deposited into pits, trenches and other depressions that are prepared for debris disposal onsite. The excavated soil can be used as intermediate as well as the final cover for the debris.

Each of the disposal method can be described as being best suited for different circumstances, and this depends entirely on the debris characteristics, the disposal site features and the climate. The primary considerations often include accessibility of different existing suitable landfills, land availability and the degree of several regulatory control over the different waste disposal practices. There is a need for one to understand the characteristic of the debris which vary significantly depending on the spill location, the cleanup method, as well as the oil type. The basic debris parameters that are important when it comes to the selection of a compatible disposal method often includes the size of the distribution of the solid matter, that is collected during the entire spill up, the biodegradability of the debris constituents and finally the petroleum content that exists on the debris.

Significant removal of several oily components can often be achieved through effective volatilization and long term oil migration (Dhir, 2003). The loss of volatilization, as well as the subsequent movement through different soil matrix, is often related to vapor pressures of the oil and soil substances. There is a need to ensure partial pressure of oxygen in the different soil environments. There are four basic debris characteristics of oil spill debris can be said to influence the immediate, as well as long term oil migration from the different debris mass. The four debris include oil content, chemical content, water content, and biodegradability of the sorbents and solid debris.

The higher the oil content that exist in the debris, the greater the likelihood of the oil that would escape from the mass at the disposal site from deposition. The debris contains a relatively low percentage of oil, and it tends to retain several surfaces on soil, rock, and debris constituents. The environmental effect of petroleum is often adversative because it is extremely toxic to almost every form of life. The likelihood of microclimate change exists, and it is pronounced. Petroleum referred to as oil has over the years been closely linked to virtually each and every aspect of the present society and especially for transportation for heating for both commercial and homes.

Petroleum is a mixture of different organic compounds most of which are extremely toxic and can cause cancer. Petroleum has been described as being acutely lethal to the fish, and it kills fish quickly. When it comes to the soil, the petroleum increases the pH value of the soil and kills the plants. Further, there is presence of benzene in both crude oil and gasoline, and it is acknowledged to cause leukemia in several humans. The compound can be transferred from the soil into the plants and is recognized to decrease the white blood cells tally when it comes to humans. This, in fact, reduces susceptibility of the exposed people to infections. Studies have connected benzene experience to several mere parts per billion ranges to what can be described as terminal leukemia. High temperatures are often created by combustion of petroleum that is caused by nitrogen gas in the air to dissolve, and it creates nitrous oxides. In many cases, nitrous oxides together with sulfur oxide combined with water that exists in the atmosphere and it makes acid rain. Acid rain creates an increased corrosion of structures and machinery. It often leads to the destruction of different archeological structures as it can be seen in Rome and Greece.


In conclusion, soil pollution has been on the increase with petroleum being transported by pipelines, roads and ships. Further, underground tanks that store petroleum are also responsible when it comes to soil pollution. There are several methods that can be used in the treatment and management of soil polluted with petroleum. The first is soil removal where the soil is removed from the site and is independently treated to the facility for either treatment or disposal. If the soils are independently treated, there should be several precautions. The excavation of the petroleum polluted soil is often deemed necessary when the soil poses environmental or health threats. The exaction may at times be necessary when clean water storage tanks are being installed or removed in construction zones where contamination of the soil was present. However, in many cases the petroleum contaminated soil is often left to degrade over time where the risk to the potential receptors is considered to be low.

The second method is land treatment. The soil in question is tilled and aerated in order to make sure that hydrocarbon is exposed to several micro-organisms that eventually decompose the hydrocarbon. Another method is individual landfills where the contaminated soils are disposed of into a landfill or moved to another location. The in place soil treatment often involves vapor extraction and biological treatment of the soil. However, this method is often deemed expensive because of the large amounts of contaminations that occur and are difficult to remove. The treatment methods involve complex clean-up projects. Thermal treatment involves passing the soil over heat, and it can be done either at the source or a mobile location. Mobile locations are often preferred when the spill is at a remote location.


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Friend, D. J., National Cooperative Highway Research Program. National Research Council (U.S.)., American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials., & United States. (1996). Remediation of petroleum-contaminated soils. Washington, D.C: National Academy Press.
King, R. O., & Library of Congress. (2010). Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster: Risk, recovery, and insurance implications. Darby, PA: Diane Publishing.
American Petroleum Institute. (1963). Biological treatment of petroleum refinery wastes. New York.
Ronneau, C., Advanced Research Workshop on Utilization of Biotechnologies in the Field of Radioactive and Toxic Wastes Management and Site Restoration, & NATO Advanced Research Workshop on Utilization of Biotechnologies in the Field of Radioactive and Toxic Wastes Management and Site Restoration. (1997). Biotechnology for waste management and site restoration: Technological, educational, business, political aspects ; [proceedings of the NATO Advanced Research Workshop on Utilization of Biotechnologies in the Field of Radioactive and Toxic Wastes Management and Site Restoration, Mol, Belgium, November 28 - December 2, 1994]. Dordrecht [u.a.: Kluwer.
Dhir, R. K., Newlands, M. D., & Dyer, T. D. (2003). Sustainable waste management: Proceedings of the international symposium held at the University of Dundee, Scotland, UK on 9-11 September 2003. London: Thomas Telford.