In-situ Burning

In-situ burning is an oil spill response tactic which involves the controlled ignition and burning of oil on the surface of the water. It is generally conducted at or nearby the spill source, but could feasibly be conducted anyplace that enough spilled product is captured in boom.

Oil must first be contained with boom or by barriers such as ice or remote shorelines and the slick thick enough (2-3 mm) to insulate itself from the underlying water. The oil also need to be somewhat fresh and have enough volatile vapors to support a burn.

While the council acknowledges that in-situ burning may be useful in high latitude waters where other techniques may not be possible due to the physical environment (extreme low temperatures and pack ice conditions), or the remoteness of the impacted area, we favor mechanical recovery as the primary response strategy for oil spills in Prince William Sound. Since boom is used to corral the oil, the council believes it can be removed by mechanical means under any weather conditions compatible with booming operations the difficult work of collecting the oil has already been accomplished.

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In Situ Burning of Oil Spills: Resource Collection. Volume 2. References (external link)

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