A containment boom is a PVC-coated expanded polypropylene float that has a skirt with a ballast chain at the bottom. When needed, these booms can be equipped with ASTM-type slide connectors and a steel cable. They are necessary as a temporary environmental mitigation measure for the control of accidental spills.
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The boom contains hydrocarbons floating on the water surface by creating an impermeable floating barrier, making spilled hydrocarbons easy to recover. Booms can be installed and used preventively in a body of water or held in reserve near a watercourse for response in the event of a spill. Containment booms are also used to trap debris temporarily.
Anchoring systems can be used with booms to hold them in place. This keeps the booms at a good distance from potential spill sources to avoid interference with work or operations. Marker buoy lights can also be installed to signal the presence of booms to boats that might pass near these installations.