Re-useable boom becomes Environment Agency innovation


Mackley and Team Van Oord are working in partnership with the environmental conservation company, Pro-Earth, to develop a marine boom specifically for use in fast-flowing water and tidal flows.

Mackley project manager Lawrence Rogers has been instrumental in helping to modify and enhance the design of the boom, which became an Environment Agency innovation for 2015.

Lawrence Rogers said: “We were working on a flood alleviation scheme on a 25m wide and relatively fast flowing river. With a lot of floating plant, the risks of oil spill or pollution was higher than usual.

“We were asked to trial the new Pro-Earth ‘SaveSorb’ boom. The trial threw up some issues over installation and spill protection in general, and the boom’s design was quickly modified.”

The modified boom has subsequently been successfully deployed on a weir refurbishment project on the River Cray at Crayford in Kent.

Manufactured by Pro-Earth, the booms feature a new, completely natural product (SaveSorb). Hydrophobic and non-leaching, SaveSorb not only contains but also absorbs hydrocarbons and chemicals.

The outer materials are UV and salt water resistant which means the booms can be deployed for up to 12 months.

The unique design involves attaching to the boom a weighted waterproof curtain which drops below the waterline to prevent contamination from escaping underneath. Front and rear skirts ensure pollution cannot wash over the boom in bad weather.


Lawrence Rogers said: “The addition of the weighted curtain has improved protection by tenfold. The benefits of this type of long-term boom far outweigh the extra initial cost, which is negligible. The booms work extremely well and are easy to install.

“Until now we’ve been using standard oil booms that really just pay lip service to reducing the risk of pollution – most only contain spills long enough to apply other clearing up methods.

“Another big advantage of the Pro-Earth system is that it can be dried and re-used; multi use is a real bonus.

“All in all, an excellent new product that we are pleased to have a hand in developing.”

15 March 2016

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