Marine oil pollution receives much attention all over the world due to the perception of the magnitude, longevity and extent of damage it inflicts on the environment. In reality the impacts on the marine environment and coastline when the incident is well managed are often short-lived. The waste generated, however, may present a longer-term problem if not correctly managed and treated. The aim of the paper is to examine some of the remediation techniques now being used for treatment of oily wastes and the criteria for determining and selecting the most appropriate techniques. In doing so the paper examines various techniques and oil spill incidents in which they were used to illustrate the issues.

The management of waste streams is dependant on the type of pollutant, the composition of the impacted area, cleanup methods employed, nature of removed material and finally the volume of waste generated. The remediation techniques available can be broadly grouped into physicochemical, biological and thermal techniques. While all have limitations such as increasing the area of contaminated material, potential groundwater contamination, air emissions or need for long-term management, these are more acceptable than the historic landfill disposal strategies. It has been determined that these techniques have potential separately, or in combination, to increase the rate of degradation of contaminants. The residual contamination concentrations which will be acceptable are not universally agreed but defined by an assessment of the health, ecological risks of the contaminants. Remedial technologies must be chosen based on their ability to achieve those goals in a cost-effective and timely manner.

Finally the paper looks to the future of each technique based on parameters such as effectiveness, reasonableness, cost, practicability, durability, technological and scientific advances, and discusses future implementation in accordance with good practice and quality assurance procedures.

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