It is a major priority for specialists in environmental protection to reduce
the frequency and volume of land-based releases and, in the event of a spill
on land, to contain the pollution at its source and to prevent it from flowing
The container ship the Kini Kersten grounded
A basic precaution, which is mandatory in many countries, involves providing
oil storage tanks with a containment basin (with a watertight base enclosed
by an earthen dike or a concrete wall) able to contain the volume released
if the tank were to give way. Many industrial facilities where oil is refined,
processed into chemicals, or stored for distribution to commercial markets,
have engineered systems to contain spilled oil and direct it to settling
basins and waste water treatment facilities, ensuring oil is treated before
leaving a site.
Complex systems can be set up for pipelines in high risk zones (sabotage, earthquakes) involving automatic devices (pressure sensors connected to alarms, automatic valves) and human surveillance (aerial surveillance, network of video cameras, terrestrial patrols).
The effectiveness of regulations depends on the level of enforcement, which is determined by the capability of the authorities and the motivation of the industry and local people. Land-based pollution is generally the result of frequent small spills due to negligence, poor upkeep, and indifference towards the environment. Unfortunately, ensuring that this type of pollution is controlled cannot always be a priority for the national authorities in many poor or politically unstable countries.