US 20020018695 A1
A deployable marine on-board containment system of a clear plastic wall, supported by a floatation counter balance system to allow for towing and surrounding of any marine surface spill; with rapid deployment and containment of any marine spill that consists of floating matter permitting almost total collection of any marine spill in the open sea, on a river or in a coastal shoreline area; without using chemical or any other additives thereby allowing the collected material to be recovered and reused.
1. A counter balance for a flotation containment system for use on a water surface consisting of a plurality of support beams attached to a flexible containment wall said wall extending above and below the water surface with
a vertical support beam having an upper end and a lower end attached to the wall above the water surface;
a horizontal beam connected at right angles to at the lower end of the vertical beam and lying flat on the water surface;
an angled beam positioned between the upper end of said vertical support beam and lower end of said horizontal beam;
a support space pole; and
a counter weight attached to the end of each horizontal beam and depends below the water line.
2. A counter balance for a flotation containment system as set forth in claim in which said vertical support beam is secured to the containment wall using wall straps.
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9. A counter balance for a flotation containment system for use on a water surface consisting of a plurality of floating support beams attached to a flexible containment wall said wall extending above and below the water surface with
a plurality of spaced apart vertical support beams having an upper end and a lower end wherein the beam is vertically attached to the wall above the water surface;
a corresponding horizontal counter balance beam having a first end and a spaced apart second end wherein the first end is connected to the lower end of each vertical support and at right angles at the lower end of the vertical beam and lying flat on the water surface;
a corresponding angled counter balance beam positioned between the upper end of said vertical support beam and second end of said horizontal beam;
a vertical support spacer pole spatially arranged between said vertical support beam; and
spatially placed anchor weights are attached to the wall extending below the water surface;
a counter weight is attached to said second end of each horizontal beam and depending below the water line.
 This application is a continuation-in-part of copending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/347,700 filed Jul. 3, 1999.
 The present application relates to a deployable onboard oil containment system designed to contain all marine oil spills or any marine surface spill that has flotation matter. The system of this invention is modular and can expand to surround any distance of the spill. Due to the height and depth of this system by using the improved stabilization arrangement, the wall which is part of the system will not encounter the problems of the present booms used for marine oil spill containment.
 Deployment of the present containment system around an open sea spill will allow for substantially 100% recovery of the spill that has not either evaporated or sunk. Thereby allowing for the use of skimmers inside the perimeter wall, while containment of spill remains intact. The system of the present invention will also serve as the main and only line of defense necessary to protect the coastal shorelines.
 In case of a spill that does not have the present on board oil containment system for deployment, or due to sever damage of the ship together with violent water wave action, any type of recovery action or restricting movement of the spill is usually prevented. Deployment of the present containment system by stretching it in front of shoreline will prevent any spill from reaching land at anytime. The present containment system will also work in rivers acting as a control dam. While allowing waters to pass beneath the system, the wall will prevent any floating matter such as oil or debris from floating down stream, thus eliminating more contamination to the waterways.
 Included in the prior art are many systems for containment of bodies of water and the use of effective disposal equipment. Generally, oil containment systems in use consist of various types of booms. These booms can be divided into several different types: Non-rigid or inflatable booms. The purpose of a boom is to contain the spill and limit the mobility of the spilled material allowing for complete and rapid recovery.
 Currently, oil recovery teams using the boom recovery method can only recover 15% of the oil wasted into the waterways, by using up to four layers of boom it has been documented on its recovery. Problems noted include that these booms are too short; some have intermittent spacing allowing oil to escape either over the top or between the spacing. In most cases the use of walls or skirts have had great difficulty with containment and positioning, rendering the boom mostly ineffective in containment. For massive spills there is never a sufficient and satisfactory boom to effectively surround the area.
 U.S. Pat. No. 5,480,261 relates to a flotation containment system of the boom-type which is collapsible for compact storage and which includes improved heat resistance properties, making the boom able to contain a burning surface containment for long periods of time. There appears to be no provision for an upper wall and floatation stabilizing counter balance system to keep the upper and lower wall upright during deployment and containment.
 U.S. Pat. No. 5,522,674 relates to a self-inflatable containment boom having a plurality of self-inflatable units with chambers connected end to end. There is no provision for an extended upper containment wall having a means for floatation stabilization by a counter balance system to keep the upper and lower wall upright during deployment and containment. This inflatable flotation system has an open cell foam material positioned in an inner space.
 Deficiencies in the general floating oil barrier found in the prior art include, but are not limit to:
 A) Circumstances where oil is never secure within the barrier because it does not enclose a spill, but wraps around in a U-shape and collects as much oil as the barrier will allow.
 B) The floating oil barrier is not designed for on-board deployment, which delays clean up time.
 C) Reliance on aircraft or ship for delivery.
 D) Retarded or difficult deployment, which impedes cleanup and allows spill to worsen.
 E) A barrier will not challenge swells over 1 meter.
 F) The barrier allows oil to funnel through its sectional breaks.
 G) A reliance of compressed bottle gas for deployment and flotation.
 H) Susceptibility for combustion.
 The oil containment system of the present invention is a two part system that consists of a first part is a four meter tall clear vinyl plastic that is 40 mil in thickness, with connecting zippers and overlapping lips on each end to lengthen the wall. The plastic is clear to allow the overseeing of the containment, removal and clean up. The width of this wall starts at 200 meters and comes in sections of 200 meters. The length of the wall is modular and can connected and expanded to surround the length of any spill. This wall is designed to stand several meters above the water surface to prevent swells up to six feet riding over this wall. The wall also extends several meters below the waters surface in order to prevent the under drift of any matter that is carried by waves. Each end of the wall is connected together after surrounding the complete spill. This assures for virtually 100 percent containment of any surface spill inside its perimeter. A second part of the oil containment system of the present invention is a series of counter balances. The materials consist of freeboard that is covered with aluminum for strength. Typically, 3.5″ thick×7.5″ wide freeboard is acceptable for the counter balances.
 There are four connecting parts to the counter balance.
 1) Counter balance beam 30, which is a vertical support beam, which attaches to the wall 10 above the surface of the water. It allows for a substantially vertical plumb position of the wall.
 2) Counter balance beam 32 is a horizontal beam that is connected to counter balance 30 that lies flat on the water surface to assure the flotation the wall.
 3) Counter balance pole 34 is a 2″ wide pole that supports both counter balance beams 30 and 32 and is positioned at a 45-degree angle to assure the strength support of the counter balance system. In this manner there is a triangle formed that supports the upright positioning, strength and flotation of the wall.
 4) Attached to the right side of counter balance beam 30 is a support spacer pole 14 that prevents collapsing from side to side. This pole 14 connects to each counter balance beam to allow for continuous upright positioning.
 Attached to the end of counter balance beam 32 is a counter weight 36, which performs two principle functions. One function is to place support to the weight of the wall per square inch, thereby not permitting the wall to tip forward. In this way, the weight is determined based on the distance between each counter balance. The second function is to serve as a drag weight to allow for smoother towing and allowing the counter balance beams to remain in an upright position during the tow to position the containment system of the present invention.
FIG. 1: is a drawing representing the containment system of the present invention being towed into position. The wall is placed on the back of the ship on spools controlled by hydraulics for smoother movements. A is container also placed on the back of the ship for the storage of the counter balance.
FIG. 2: is a front view of the full containment wall without the counter balance system.
FIG. 3: is a front view of the containment wall section above the water, with the counter balance attached. This drawing also displays the vertical spacers connected.
FIG. 4: is a front view of the containment wall below the water surface, this also shows the weights at the bottom skirt to maintain the rigidity of the wall.
FIG. 5: is a view of the counter balance in an open position from a left side view showing the counter balance locked into position with the counter weight attached and the connector for the horizontal spacer.
 FIG 6: is a view from the right side of the counter balance fully assembled. Along the side of counter balance is the vertical spacer that extends up and outward to connect to the next counter balance.
FIG. 7: is an overhead view of the containment system of the present invention above and below the water surface with all components connected.
 Referring to the drawing in FIG. 1: there is a depiction of a tanker that has the deployable on-board oil containment system of this invention. The tanker has struck as reef and oil is spilling out. Two lifeboats that are equipped with out board motors and a tow loop 18 to attach the cable of the wall can deploy the containment system of this invention. The two spools swing to an outward position and lowered into the water by hydraulics. The two boats facing the opposite direction will pull on radio command to ensure that tension on the wall stays rigid. Upon command the boats will either speed up or slow down. Because the wall is on a spool and is only released during radio command this allows for the boats to have less weight to tow. After about the first 20 meters the weight reverts back to the spool regardless of the distance being pulled.
 With reference to FIG. 2, there is a front view of the wall 10 from top to bottom without the counter balance system attached. The numbers represent the following: 10 is the wall itself The material is a heavy weight clear plastic, 40 mil clear vinyl plastic has been found to be satisfactory, so that the clean up can be viewed while in progress. Other material can be used. The wall typically stands a total of about 4 meters in height and is modular with each section about 200 meters in length, connecting zippers 22 and overlapping edges 23 are provided on each end of the modular section. This wall can be customized to a shorter length to fit the size of any boat, and the amount of potential spill on board the boat. With this wall depth of its skirt, water has been proven to flow around and beneath the wall leaving the debris to be contained. Anchor support holes 12 are placed into the wall 10. These walls 10 are reinforced to support the weight that is attached to keep the skirt of the wall from bending backwards, allowing for a more rigid skirt against the current. Vertical support poles 14 slide inside special made seams in the wall 10, both above and below the water surface. The material for construction of the vertical support poles 14 can be of various material, however a satisfactory lightweight plastic is polyvinyl chloride or “PVC” plastic. This material is lightweight, flexible and in short pieces extremely strong. Typically, if each pole is 1˝ meters in length and 1 inch in circumference satisfactory strength can be achieved in the support system. The support poles 14 are spaced apart along the length of the wall. It has been found that support poles 14 placed about 20 centimeters apart assure near maximum strength support to the wall 10.
 Secure wall straps 16 are made of woven fabric that can be are sown into the wall with two pieces on both sides sown together to insure maximum strength against tearing of the wall during towing. It has been found that the use of nylon as the material for constructing the wall straps is acceptable. These straps 16 have clamps that slide together and lock into place with a manual release for removal. The straps 16 are design to hold the counter balance beam 30 vertically against the wall 10 thereby not allowing any separation of the wall and counter balance system. All straps 16 are above the water surface 28 and are placed for balance support. Tow loops 18 are designed and placed at the beginning and end of each 200-meter section. They are constructed of nylon fabric sown together on both sides of the wall with a loop thereon for that attachment of the towline. The three loops are placed above the water line. This allows for a more even towing, without lifting the wall out of the water.
FIG. 3 is a front view of the containment wall 10 above the water surface 28, with counter balance system attached. There can be seen the wall 10, the vertical support poles 14, secure wall straps 16, tow loops 18, counter balance beam 30 secured against the wall by the secure wall straps 16 to allow the wall to remain plumb. The connecting zipper 22 is shown with overlapping flap 23 that securely connects the wall sections without adding stress when being towed, made of nylon and plastic. The horizontal support spacer 24, when not used, lies connected resting on the side of the counter balance beam 30 in a vertical position. When connected as shown in FIG. 3 is fully attached from counter balance to counter balance 30. For stability the connecting poles 23 are used to assure that the wall does not tilt over on its side. The connecting poles 23 are put in place manually as the wall is dispensed from the onboard container.
FIG. 4 is a front view of containment wall 10 depending below the water surface 28. The skirt of the wall 11 depending beneath the surface of the water 28 shows the anchor support holes. The vertical support poles 14 are shown inside the skirt. This allows the skirt to remain rigid, not allowing any buckling against the force of the current. The connecting zipper 22 is shown with the overlapping flap 23. The anchor weights 26 are attached to the wall skirt below the waterline 28 to keep the lower wall skirt 11 from floating to the surface of the water. These anchor weights 26 are typically about 2 lbs. each and are space about 28 inches apart. Each weight 26 hangs below the lower wall skirt 11 below the water line 28. It is hung with nylon cord 17, where the water surface line is represented at 28.
FIG. 5 represents the left side view of counter balance system assembled: Vertical counter balance beam 30 and the diagonal support beam 34 and horizontal counter balance support beam 32 assembled in operating configuration. The vertical support beam 29 is constructed of free board that is covered in aluminum. The diagonal support beam 34 must be light and strong. It has been found that a combination of aluminum tubing with a fiberglass sheet overlay is acceptable. It is understood that other materials familiar to those skilled in the art can be used as well. The counter balance beam 30 attaches to the wall 10 above the water surface 28 and each is secured to the wall 10 by the straps 16 on the wall, this allows for the wall 10 to remain plumb and not fall over against winds. Horizontal counter balance beam 32, is connected to beam 30, but rides on the waters surface. This allows for the flotation of the wall. Horizontal counter balance beam 32 also is made of freeboard covered in aluminum. The length of the board is conveniently about 5 feet. The horizontal counter balance beam 32 also houses counter balance pole 34 when stored.
 Counter balance pole 34 is braced against both counter balance beams 30 and 32 to form a floating triangle allowing for greater strength and the full support of the wall. The counter weight 36 a weight that is attached to the end of counter balance beam 32 which allows for adequate support per square inch of wall not permitting for the wall to tip over. This arrangement with the counter weights in place keeps the assembly from tipping over, as from gust of wind. The counter weights 36 are also used as a drag to keep the counter balance assembly in the water while being towed. The horizontal support spacer clamp 38 acts as a locking clamp that keeps the horizontal spacer bar 42 in place.
FIG. 6 represents the right side view of the assembled counter balance system. Spacer guide loop 40 is used to attach the spacer guide rope 41 from counter balance to counter balance. The horizontal space bar 42 is shown in its resting position along side of the vertical beam 30. This space bar 42 when used is manually raised up from the side of the vertical beam 30 and move upwardly to attach to the next counter balance beam 30. When in place the horizontal space bar 42 is used to support the balance of the wall 10. Thereby the counter balances working together do not allow the wall 10 and counter balance beams to tip over on its side. The horizontal space bar 42 locks in place to the horizontal spacer clamp 38 and is secured in place until manually removed.
 In FIG. 7 can be seen as an overhead view of containment wall 10 with the counter balance system of the present invention above and below the water line 28. The spacer control rope 44 controls the movement of counter balance beam 32 keeping the required spacing and not allowing the beams to drift together or float toward each other.
 The oil containment system of the present invention can easily be deployed from a tanker or other recovery vessels. The containment system can be conveniently stored on spools that are about 15 ft tall and are operated by hydraulics for deployment. The recommended length of this system stored on board an oil carrying tanker is a square quarter mile for rapid deployment and containment. After the attempt to secure the safety of its crewmembers and stabilize the leakage, the containment system of the present invention can be deployed. Should the vessel be unable to deploy the containment system, the nearest harbor should have enough footage of the containment system to secure the coastal shorelines, by deploying the wall out along the shoreline. While a rescue and recovery vessel carrying another the containment system works its way out to secure the perimeter of the spill. The hydraulic system that operates the spool and places it into position can be secured either to the front or the back of the vessel for optimal maneuverability. The spools are placed onto the water and each section of the wall is towed in a clockwise and counter clockwise direction, by several small outboards, such as lifeboats, they circle the spill at least fifty meters away from the spill. With two trailing boats trailing to attach the counter balances. By working from the connecting points back to the spools the counter balances are placed such that the tension stays on the wall until all counter balances have been placed thereon. Thus enabling successful upright flotation of the wall.
 The clean up procedure of the wall may be accomplished as follows. Once the spill has been retrieved, the wall is then reversed rolled back onto its spool. By removing the counter balance system from the closet to the spool, the spool is put into reverse mode. The wall is then taken back to dock where the clean up process begins. The removal of the oil or any matter on the wall can be washed down as the spool unwinds. The cleaning solution can be any oil cutting detergent and scrub the wall as it is reversed onto another spool. The oil or other matter is collected and removed from the area. The spool is then placed back onto the vessel and stored.
 The containment system can be stored in both places, on shore or on the vessels; it rests on its spool while the counter balances are place in a stackable position in a storage container. The placement of this equipment requires either a stern or bow position for optimal maneuverability. Optimally, there are sufficient counter balances positioned on every mile stretch to keep the deployed wall floatable.
 Therefore, the foregoing is considered as illustrative only of the principles of the present invention. Further, since numerous modifications and changes will readily occur to those skilled in the art, it is not intended to limit the invention to the exact contraction and operation shown and described, and all suitable modifications and equivalents may be resorted to and which may fall by within the scope of the present invention.