Radioactive Waste From Bakken Oil Fields Raises Concerns About Local Water Contamination
By Katie Rucke
Editor’s note: Some names have been changed in this article to protect the identities of certain individuals who came to MintPress with concerns about how this landfill would affect the health and well-being of those who lived nearby and depended on water sources the landfill could potentially pollute. Several days after we interviewed those individuals, some have expressed concern about the possible ramifications they could face for publishing this story, which is why their identities are being protected. The purpose of this story is to highlight environmental issues that are in the interests of the public and residents, as well as their right to be informed of potentially harmful activities occurring in their area.
The 200 or so people who call Lindsay, MT, home likely never imagined they would find themselves in the middle of an environmental battle fueled by radioactive waste. But that’s exactly what happened in the small community of farmers and ranchers in Eastern Montana after a local farmer opened a landfill and started collecting naturally occurring radioactive waste materials generated by the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota.
Known as Oaks Disposal Services landfill, the dump site is the creation of Ross Oakland and his wife, Tara. The duo are Montana-based farmers who have been growing wheat, peas and lentils on their farm in Lindsay since 1992.
In an interview with MintPress, Oakland said he got the idea to build a landfill on his property after an oil company began to drill on land adjacent to his farmland. Oakland, who worked as a driller in the 1980s after graduating from high school, noticed the oil company didn’t have a pit to dump the waste materials, so he asked a “company man” what was being done with the materials.
“Back when I was a driller, everything went into a pit on location and (we) just buried (the materials),” Oakland recalled. “Now they are environmentally friendly.”
Inspired by the new “environmentally friendly” approach Oakland said the oil companies were taking, he called Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality and went through a two-year approval process for the state’s first, and currently only, Class II Solid Waste Management System.
Open since June 3, 2013, Oakland’s 23.1-acre landfill accepts solid waste primarily related to the exploration and production of oil and gas. This includes sludge, drill cuttings, filter socks and pit liners, among other materials.
Oakland stressed that Montana allows almost anyone to operate a landfill, as long as the dump site is built correctly and can withstand naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM) that contains no more than 30 picocuries of radiation per gram. Picocuries are how the intensity of radioactive material is measured.
Oakland noted that North Dakota landfills don’t accept any NORM waste that is over five picocuries per gram, which is why the waste is being sent to states such as Montana.
To ensure that the waste material doesn’t seep into the ground and—more importantly—the town’s water supply, Oakland said he created a “state-of-the-art facility” that includes two “top of the line” liners, an 18-inch layer of gravel, four monitoring walls around the perimeter of the landfill, a basal layer, as well as a leachate solution system. MintPress was unable to independently verify this.
Some of Oakland’s neighbors say they are concerned about the toxic materials being brought into their town from North Dakota. They claim that Oakland’s landfill is ruining the local land, air and water, and it’s only a matter of time before disaster strikes, which could result in a polluted water supply or health effects similar to those reported after prolonged exposure to radioactive and toxic waste materials in WWII-era Hiroshima.
Given that the landfill has already spilled or overflowed at least three times, Montana could be in the beginning stages of its own environmental and health disaster.
Ticking Time Bomb
“Robert” and his wife, “Sarah,” live a few miles from Oakland’s property and about 10 miles from the landfill, on a homestead Robert’s family has owned since 1915. They, along with Robert’s sister, “Meghan,” told MintPress they are concerned about the landfill, since they are downwind and downstream from the waste site. They also say the dump was built on top of an aquifer—a claim Oakland denies.
But according to a report from the state of Montana’s Ground-Water Data Task Force, there is some type of an aquifer below most of the state, especially in the eastern portion of the state where Lindsay is located.
The family has raised their concerns about the landfill with various officials, including President Obama and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as local officials. They grow wheat and raise cattle on their land, which contributes to their pollution concerns. As Meghan explained to MintPress, the agencies have all told them the same thing: nothing can be done until a disaster occurs and there’s a “smoking gun” in the form of a massive spill or the water supply is highly contaminated.
“The thing is,” Meghan said, “with this kind of stuff, there is no disaster immediately. Disaster occurs after it is way too late.”
Although the family appears to be the only people in town complaining about the landfill, Robert, Sarah and Meghan said they are fighting to protect the entire town from the toxic materials, since the water in the town leads directly to Deer Creek, then on to Yellowstone, before reaching the Missouri River. And as Sarah pointed out, the creek also runs by at least three schools along the way.
The family told MintPress that they are the only ones in town willing to publicly oppose the landfill because Oakland has paid off some people in town to keep their mouths shut. They claim that the few people in this small town who haven’t been paid off are too afraid of retaliation from Oakland to speak out.
Sources in the community said Oakland has even bought the Dawson County Commissioner’s support, citing a Feb. 16, 2014 article in the Ranger-Review, which reported that Oakland and his wife donated $50,000 to a restroom project at the Dawson County Fairgrounds.
Oakland told the Ranger-Review, a local newspaper, that he was tired of all the negativity surrounding the oilfield, adding that the money he donated for the bathroom project is “oil-generated money,” which he said proves that his landfill is good for the community.
Meghan said one woman shared with her privately in a message on a social media network that she was scared to publicly oppose the landfill because she doesn’t want her business to suffer.
The afflicted family’s main contention about the disposal site is that Oakland insists that the oil industry’s presence in the community will be for everyone’s benefit, but the level of radioactive material in Oakland’s pit is higher than the radioactive material found in Hiroshima, Japan, according to Robert.
MintPress asked Gov. Bullock (D-MT) to comment on the issue, since some residents have expressed concern about the landfill. Bullock’s Deputy Communications Director Mike Wessler told MintPress that the governor is involved in this issue, and he is working closely with the state’s director of environmental quality to ensure that all appropriate steps are taken. But in the end, Wessler recommended we contact the DEQ directly.
The family said this kind of response has been one of the biggest obstacles in their battle to prevent Oakland from continuing to accept toxic and radioactive material in his landfill. They said they are constantly sent from one agency to another, with various officials telling them there is nothing they can do about it because Oakland was issued a license.
But the family is also concerned about how Oakland was issued the license in the first place, as well as the environmental problems associated with the landfill.
While the Montana DEQ maintains that the “Oaks Landfill application has been thoroughly reviewed, approved, and is licensed to operate as a Solid Waste Management System, which is currently in compliance with all applicable laws and rules,” the family says they believe there are several disconcerting facets of Oakland’s landfill approval process.
One such facet is that while the state’s DEQ is required to notify the public about a proposed landfill site and allow 30 days for public comments, the family said the public was notified via a small print ad in the back of the Ranger-Review on Dec. 27, 2012. The public comment period ended on Jan. 21, 2013. In addition, the public comment meetings were held in Helena, MT, which is about seven hours from the disposal site.
The commissioners signed off on the landfill site on Feb. 2, 2013 and gave approval for the oil companies to use the county roads on Feb. 11, 2013, even though Oakland’s license wasn’t issued until Feb. 14, 2013—the same day that the DEQ sent an urgent certified letter to Dr. Joseph Leal, Chief Health Officer of Montana’s Dawson County, to sign off on the landfill.
Sarah knows Dr. Leal. She said she asked him why he agreed to sign off on the creation of such a landfill. She claims he informed her that he didn’t know anything about the landfill or the type of material that would be dumped in the site, and that he was told that if he didn’t sign the document immediately, he would have to go defend himself in court.
When MintPress attempted to contact Leal, his receptionist said he had no interest in commenting.
In an email to MintPress, Chris Saeger—spokesman for the Montana Department of Environmental Quality—said that the state’s “standards for protecting human health and the environment are only defined by laws passed by the legislature and Congress. Based on those laws and our staff’s thorough review of the incident you’ve mentioned, the facility is in compliance with DEQ’s standards.”
Saeger stressed that “our response to public concerns—as detailed above—can only be based on the legal authority we’ve been given by the state legislature.”
What Saeger is referring to is the fact that according to a regulatory determination issued in 1988, oil waste is not considered to be hazardous material for disposal purposes. Based on this, Montana’s DEQ can’t legally investigate the landfill further because under state and federal law the material is not considered to be hazardous. In other words, Oakland’s landfill is treated more as a regular garbage dump than a radioactive waste facility.
Since the family started to push back against the landfill, Robert and Sarah said that trucks hauling the radioactive oil waste have begun to travel on the county road located about 50 feet from their home, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Knowing that the family is opposed to the landfill, Robert and Sarah said the truckers often honk their horns when they pass by their home.
Additional environmental concerns
Because the oil waste is not tarped down, it flies out of the trucks as they make their way to the landfill. Robert said the truckers began to spray magnesium chloride on the roads to keep the dust down. Oakland estimates that he spent about $9,000 to spray this chemical on the roads in 2013, which the Centers for Disease Control say contains poisonous additives that are known to cause organ dysfunction.
In addition to the family’s concerns about the dust and magnesium chloride sprayed on the road outside their home, they say they have recorded at least four spills at the landfill so far. The first allegedly occurred on Sept. 19, 2013 and the most recent on Jan. 19.
When MintPress asked Oakland about the alleged oil spills, he said his landfill site has never overflowed or spilled and that Robert, Sarah and Meghan are “bad people” no one in town listens to. He further claimed that the Montana DEQ has stopped listening to their “unfounded” complaints as well.
When MintPress asked Saeger, of the DEQ, if there was any truth to Oakland’s claims that this particular family’s concerns were unfounded, he said “the owner of Oaks Disposal Service (Oakland) does not speak for the Montana DEQ.” He added that the agency has “undertaken a very thorough inspection of this facility in response to concerns raised by the [affected] family.”
Saeger added that the DEQ has received complaints about two confirmed spills. He explained that one of the complaints was resolved through the landfill owner’s clean-up, while the other confirmed complaint of a spill is in the process of being resolved.
Because a third complaint “contained incomplete information,” Saeger said the DEQ wasn’t able to respond to it. The agency, he said, has not received a complaint about a fourth spill.
Since MintPress spoke to the DEQ, Meghan told MintPress about a fifth spill that occurred around the first week of March 2014.
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Farmers are the stewards of our planet's precious soil, one of the least understood and untapped defenses against climate change. Because of its massive potential to store carbon and foundational role in growing our food supply, soil makes farming a solution for both climate change and food security.
Soil can act as a natural "carbon sink." Climate Central, 2019
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By Shelly Miller
The vast majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs indoors, most of it from the inhalation of airborne particles that contain the coronavirus. The best way to prevent the virus from spreading in a home or business would be to simply keep infected people away. But this is hard to do when an estimated 40% of cases are asymptomatic and asymptomatic people can still spread the coronavirus to others.
It’s All About Fresh, Outside Air<p>The safest indoor space is one that constantly has lots of <a href="https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/how-does-outdoor-air-enter-building" target="_blank">outside air</a> replacing the stale air inside.</p><p>In commercial buildings, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK143277/" target="_blank">outside air is usually pumped in</a> through heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems. In <a href="https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/how-does-outdoor-air-enter-building" target="_blank">homes, outside air gets in</a> through open windows and doors, in addition to seeping in through various nooks and crannies.</p><p>Simply put, the more fresh, outside air inside a building, the better. Bringing in this air dilutes any contaminant in a building, whether a virus or a something else, and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0668.2010.00703.x" target="_blank">reduces the exposure of anyone inside</a>. Environmental engineers like me quantify how much outside air is getting into a building using a measure called the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/jes.2013.30" target="_blank">air exchange rate</a>. This number quantifies the number of times the air inside a building gets replaced with air from outside in an hour.</p><p>While the exact rate depends on the number of people and size of the room, most experts consider roughly <a href="https://doi.org/10.1034/j.1600-0668.2002.01145.x" target="_blank">six air changes an hour</a> to be good for a 10-foot-by-10-foot room with three to four people in it. In a pandemic this should be higher, with one study from 2016 suggesting that an exchange rate of nine times per hour <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1420326X16631596" target="_blank">reduced the spread of SARS, MERS and H1N1</a> in a Hong Kong hospital.</p><p>Many buildings in the U.S., <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/ina.12403" target="_blank">especially schools</a>, do not meet recommended ventilation rates. Thankfully, it can be pretty easy to get more outside air into a building. Keeping <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/S0960-1481(99)00012-9" target="_blank">windows and doors open</a> is a good start. Putting a box fan in a window blowing out can greatly increase air exchange too. In buildings that don't have operable windows, you can change the mechanical ventilation system to increase how much air it is pumping. But in any room, the more people inside, the faster the air should be replaced.</p>
Using CO2 to Measure Air Circulation<p>So how do you know if the room you're in has enough air exchange? It's actually a pretty hard number to calculate. But there's an easy-to-measure proxy that can help. Every time you exhale, you <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/ina.12383" target="_blank">release CO2</a> into the air. Since the coronavirus is most often spread by breathing, coughing or talking, you can use <a href="https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/dd7e/b2870c38f70e5285e5118ed6f158c091f7cf.pdf" target="_blank">CO2 levels</a> to see if the room is filling up with potentially infectious exhalations. The CO2 level lets you estimate if enough fresh outside air is getting in.</p><p>Outdoors, CO2 levels are just above 400 parts per million (ppm). A well ventilated room will have around <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0668.1999.00003.x" target="_blank">800 ppm of CO2</a>. Any higher than that and it is a sign the room might need more ventilation.</p><p>Last year, researchers in Taiwan reported on the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/ina.12639" target="_blank">effect of ventilation on a tuberculosis outbreak</a> at Taipei University. Many of the rooms in the school were underventilated and had CO2 levels above 3,000 ppm. When engineers improved air circulation and got CO2 levels under 600 ppm, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/ina.12639" target="_blank">the outbreak completely stopped</a>. According to the research, the increase in ventilation was responsible for 97% of the decrease in transmission.</p><p>Since the coronavirus is spread through the air, higher CO2 levels in a room likely mean there is a <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/ina.12639" target="_blank">higher chance of transmission</a> if an infected person is inside. Based on the study above, I recommend trying to keep the CO2 levels below 600 ppm. You can buy <a href="https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-7-3325-2014" target="_blank">good CO2 meters</a> for around $100 online; just make sure that they are accurate to within 50 ppm.</p>
Air Cleaners<p>If you are in a room that can't get enough outside air for dilution, consider an air cleaner, also commonly called air purifiers. These machines remove particles from the air, usually using <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cap.2005.07.013" target="_blank">a filter</a> made of tightly woven fibers. They can <a href="https://shellym80304.files.wordpress.com/2020/06/miller-leiden-et-al-1996.pdf" target="_blank">capture particles containing bacteria and viruses</a> and can help reduce disease transmission.</p><p>The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says that <a href="https://www.epa.gov/coronavirus/air-cleaners-hvac-filters-and-coronavirus-covid-19" target="_blank">air cleaners can do this for the coronavirus</a>, but not all air cleaners are equal. Before you go out and buy one, there are few things to keep in mind.</p><p>The first thing to consider is <a href="https://shellym80304.files.wordpress.com/2020/06/air-cleaner-report.pdf" target="_blank">how effective an air cleaner's filter is</a>. Your best option is a cleaner that uses a high-efficiency particulate air (<a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/S0021-8502(05)80214-9" target="_blank">HEPA</a>) filter, as these remove more than <a href="https://doi.org/10.1063/1.2771421" target="_blank">99.97% of all particle sizes</a>.</p><p>The second thing to consider is how powerful the cleaner is. The bigger the room – or the more people in it – the more air needs to be cleaned. I worked with some colleagues at Harvard to put together a tool to help teachers and schools determine <a href="https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1NEhk1IEdbEi_b3wa6gI_zNs8uBJjlSS-86d4b7bW098/edit#gid=1275403500" target="_blank">how powerful of an air cleaner you need for different classroom sizes</a>.</p><p>The last thing to consider is the validity of the claims made by the company producing the air cleaner.</p><p>The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers certifies air cleaners, so the AHAM Verifide seal is a good place to start. Additionally, the California Air Resources Board has a <a href="https://ww2.arb.ca.gov/our-work/programs/air-cleaners-ozone-products/california-certified-air-cleaning-devices" target="_blank">list of air cleaners</a> that are certified as safe and effective, though not all of them use HEPA filters.</p>
Keep Air Fresh or Get Outside<p>Both the <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/commentaries/detail/transmission-of-sars-cov-2-implications-for-infection-prevention-precautions" target="_blank">World Health Organization</a> and <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/deciding-to-go-out.html" target="_blank">U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention</a> say that poor ventilation increases the risk of transmitting the coronavirus.</p><p>If you are in control of your indoor environment, make sure you are getting enough fresh air from outside circulating into the building. A CO2 monitor can help give you a clue if there is enough ventilation, and if CO2 levels start going up, open some windows and <a href="https://www.advisory.com/daily-briefing/2020/07/17/outdoor-gathering" target="_blank">take a break outside</a>. If you can't get enough fresh air into a room, an air cleaner might be a good idea. If you do get an air cleaner, be aware that they don't remove CO2, so even though the air might be safer, CO2 levels could still be high in the room.</p><p>If you walk into a building and it feels hot, stuffy and crowded, chances are that there is not enough ventilation. Turn around and leave.</p><p>By paying attention to air circulation and filtration, improving them where you can and staying away from places where you can't, you can add another powerful tool to your anti-coronavirus toolkit.</p>
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The tiny island nation of Mauritius, known for its turquoise waters, vibrant corals and diverse ecosystem, is in the midst of an environmental catastrophe after a Japanese cargo ship struck a reef off the country's coast two weeks ago. That ship, which is still intact, has since leaked more than 1,000 metric tons of oil into the Indian Ocean. Now, a greater threat looms, as a growing crack in the ship's hull might cause the ship to split in two and release the rest of the ship's oil into the water, NPR reported.
On Friday, Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth declared a state of environmental emergency.
France has sent a military aircraft carrying pollution control equipment from the nearby island of Reunion to help mitigate the disaster. Additionally, Japan has sent a six-member team to assist as well, the BBC reported.
The teams are working to pump out the remaining oil from the ship, which was believed to be carrying 4,000 metric tons of fuel.
"We are expecting the worst," Mauritian Wildlife Foundation manager Jean Hugues Gardenne said on Monday, The Weather Channel reported. "The ship is showing really big, big cracks. We believe it will break into two at any time, at the maximum within two days. So much oil remains in the ship, so the disaster could become much worse. It's important to remove as much oil as possible. Helicopters are taking out the fuel little by little, ton by ton."
Sunil Dowarkasing, a former strategist for Greenpeace International and former member of parliament in Mauritius, told CNN that the ship contains three oil tanks. The one that ruptured has stopped leaking oil, giving disaster crews time to use a tanker and salvage teams to remove oil from the other two tanks before the ship splits.
By the end of Tuesday, the crew had removed over 1,000 metric tons of oil from the ship, NPR reported, leaving about 1,800 metric tons of oil and diesel, according to the company that owns the ship. So far the frantic efforts are paying off. Earlier today, a local police chief told BBC that there were still 700 metric tons aboard the ship.
The oil spill has already killed marine animals and turned the turquoise water black. It's also threatening the long-term viability of the country's coral reefs, lagoons and shoreline, NBC News reported.
"We are starting to see dead fish. We are starting to see animals like crabs covered in oil, we are starting to see seabirds covered in oil, including some which could not be rescued," said Vikash Tatayah, conservation director at Mauritius Wildlife Foundation, according to The Weather Channel.
While the Mauritian authorities have asked residents to leave the clean-up to officials, locals have organized to help.
"People have realized that they need to take things into their hands. We are here to protect our fauna and flora," environmental activist Ashok Subron said in an AFP story.
Reuters reported that sugar cane leaves, plastic bottles and human hair donated by locals are being sewn into makeshift booms.
Human hair absorbs oil, but not water, so scientists have long suggested it as a material to contain oil spills, Gizmodo reported. Mauritians are currently collecting as much human hair as possible to contribute to the booms, which consist of tubes and nets that float on the water to trap the oil.
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Environmentalists and ornithologists found a friend in a federal court on Tuesday when a judge struck down a Trump administration attempt to allow polluters to kill birds without repercussions through rewriting the Migratory Treaty Bird Act (MBTA).
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By Elizabeth Claire Alberts
There are trillions of microplastics in the ocean — they bob on the surface, float through the water column, and accumulate in clusters on the seafloor. With plastic being so ubiquitous, it's inevitable that marine organisms, such as sharks, will ingest them.
Polyproylene fibers found in one of the sampled sharks. Kristian Parton
Spiny dogfish. NOAA / Wikimedia Commons<p>"There appear to be two routes for these particles to end up in the sharks," Parton said. "The first through their food source [such as] crustaceans. Their prey may already contain these fibers, and consequently it's passed to the shark through bioaccumulation up the food chain. The second pathway is direct ingestion from the sediment. As these sharks feed, they'll often suck up sediment into their mouths, some of this is expelled straight away, although some is swallowed, therefore fibers and particles that may have sunk down into the seabed may be directly ingested from the surrounding sediment as these sharks feed."</p><p>Some sharks only contained a few plastic particles, but others contained dozens. The larger the shark, the more plastic was in it, the findings suggested. The highest number of microplastics was found in an individual bull huss, which had 154 polypropylene fibers inside its stomach and intestines.</p><p>"It's perhaps likely this individual shark had swallowed a larger piece of fishing rope/netting and this has broken down during digestive processes within the shark, and also broken down into smaller pieces during our analysis," Parton said.</p>
Lesser-spotted dogfish caught as bycatch. Kristian Parton<p>While this study only examined the stomach and digestive tracts of demersal sharks, Parton says it's possible that plastic would be present in other parts of the sharks' bodies, such as the liver and muscle tissue. However, more research would be needed to prove this.</p><p>At the moment, there is also limited understanding of how microplastic ingestion would impact a shark's health, although microplastics are known to negatively influence feeding behavior, development, reproduction and life span of zooplankton and crustaceans.</p><p>"If we can show that these fibers contain inorganic pollutants attached to them, then that could have real consequences for these shark species at a cellular level, impacting various internal body systems," Parton said.</p>
Parton in the lab. Kristian Parton<p>This new study demonstrates how pervasive and destructive plastic pollution can be in the marine environment, according to Will McCallum, head of oceans for Greenpeace U.K.</p><p>"Our addiction to plastics combined with the lack of mechanisms to protect our oceans is suffocating marine life," McCallum said in a statement. "Sharks sit on top of the marine food web and play a vital role in ocean ecosystems. Yet, they are completely exposed to pollutants and other human impactful activities. We need to stop producing so much plastic and create a network of ocean sanctuaries to give wildlife space to recover. The ocean is not our dump, marine life deserves better than plastic."</p>
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By Loveday Wright and Stuart Braun
After a Japanese-owned oil tanker struck a reef off Mauritius on July 25, a prolonged period of inaction is threatening to become an ecological disaster.
<div id="bb0a7" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e5aefc0fff61ab1aea2f4b03c5399864"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1291765757013983238" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">The #oilspill is devastating but I want to honour the community mobilisation at the Mahebourg waterfront today (to… https://t.co/UWFkZFdjdi</div> — Fabiola Monty (@Fabiola Monty)<a href="https://twitter.com/LFabiolaMonty/statuses/1291765757013983238">1596815930.0</a></blockquote></div><p>"Booms are made of nylon mesh filled with #sugarcane straws all hand-stitched by Mauritian volunteers, empty plastic bottles used as buoys," described Mauritian journalist Zeenat Hansrod in a tweet. </p>
How to Tackle Oil Spills<p>The method for tackling oil spills depends on several factors, including the type and amount of oil in question, location and weather conditions.</p><p>"Once the oil comes to shore, the more intensive the cleaning technique. You can risk causing further damage," said Nicky Cariglia, an independent consultant at Marittima, who specializes in marine pollution. </p><p>"If you wanted to remove all traces of oil, the techniques available become increasingly aggressive the less oil that remains. In mangroves, you would have the added risk of causing damage by trampling," Cariglia told DW. Highly sensitive mangrove ecosystems line the Mauritius east coast that is threatened by the current spill.</p><p>Because oil normally has a lower density than water, it floats on the surface of the ocean. This means that for clean-up action to be most effective, it should happen very quickly after a spill, before the oil disperses. </p>
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