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Sawdust and Cocopeat Images

These images were obtained after testing with a microscope to ensure that our raw material meets our highest demands and that it contains 100% cocopeat. It’s easy to see the difference between cocopeat and sawdust with a microscope. The surface of sawdust is flat and has sharp edges. The surface of cocopeat has an uneven surface with ‘bubbles’. Cocopeat is similar in for to a cocoon with a honeycomb structure inside. Because of its surface and honeycomb structure, cocopeat make the excellent absorption for many different kinds of liquids.

The images are best viewed by clicking on any one image. A box should appear with a larger image. Click on the ‘i’ to find out what you are looking at.


Testing Our Absorbent Material on Lube and Diesel Oil

Below is the test video we made to show you the amazing absorption qualities of our absorbent material. Just in case you are on your phone at a family wedding and can’t listen to the audio, he is a quick synopsis of the narration, which I did myself by the way.

In the first half of the video, you can see our absorbent material being tested on lube oil. As I say in the video, one thing that is fascinating is the speed in which the oil spreads over the water. As you can see, the test is being done in a tank. There is obviously no water movement in the tank and yet it is surprising how fast the oil spreads.

It might be a little difficult to see this movement and/or the oil itself. That is why in the second part of the video, we used diesel oil dyed with food colouring. Now, the spread of the oil is much more noticeable.

In both tests, you can see how well our material absorbs the oil. Notice how our material sits on top of the oil. Other absorbents, such as sawdust, sink which means they absorb the oil from the top. Unfortunately, it means that other absorbents absorb the water from below.

It doesn’t take having a PhD to work out that this means that other absorbents are much less efficient than ours. Not only is more absorbent material needed but also more time is needed to absorb all the oil. Of course, this has the potential to be more damaging to the environment as well.

When you play the video, depending on your bandwidth, you might find it better to hit the pause button for a minute or two. That way, you will get a better viewing experience.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the video. If you need anymore information, please ask a question in the comment section below or get in contact with us through the ‘Contact Us’ page in the menu above.

Vancouver Island

Oil Spill Response Shows British Columbia Government Failings

 The three founders are aware of the importance of providing environmentally friendly solutions to society. Dragon Sorb has a great deal of experience in handling accidental offshore and onshore spills of oils and chemicals

In 2012, the B.C. government established five situations that had to be achieved before the province would support two proposed pipelines, which would greatly increase tanker traffic to the West Coast.

Number two on that list was the establishment of the “world-leading marine oil spill reaction, prevention and recovery technique.”

Grounding of the Nathan E. Stewart

Unfortunately, in the last seven days, the lack of forward movement on that point was strongly underlined when U.S.-registered tug Nathan E. Stewart ran aground while pushing a massive gasoline barge inside a narrow passage just north of Bella Bella.

Bella Bella, British ColumbiaThankfully for the Terrific Bear Rainforest and the Heiltsuk people who reside there, barge DBL 55 was empty. But an incident report filed in 2011 by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation offers a view of how serious the accident might have been, had the 289-foot (91-metre) fuel barge been loaded.

On Dec. 21 of that year, precisely the same tug and barge went adrift just after engine failure in the vicinity of Cape Fairweather, in the Gulf of Alaska.

The following report stated that the tug had 45,000 (170m3) gallons of diesel and 500 (1.9m3) gallons of lube oil on board. The cargo on board the fuel barge was 2.2 million (83,279m3) gallons of diesel fuel, 1,028 (3.9m3) gallons of aviation gasoline, and 700 (2.65m3) gallons of other petroleum products.

In that incident, no oil was spilled after both the tug and barge were towed to safety.

The Sinking of the Nathan E. Stewart

In the Bella Bella accident the barge that ran aground on a reef was refloated. However, the tug sank, haemorrhaging diesel and other petroleum products. Long before spill response staff arrived from Prince Rupert, a gasoline slick had passed through Gale Pass into a region famous for its abundant clam beds and highly-valued by the Heiltsuk .

Head of the Heiltsuk people, Marilyn Slett, stated that although the tug crew, Coast Guard responders and local volunteers did try to contain the fuel, they lacked sufficient equipment. A reaction crew was dispatched from Prince Rupert, but was more than 20 hours away . The day after the accident, Ms. Slett was still waiting for the spill to be contained.

Slow Going for the Cleanup Effort

Ms. Slett claimed that the experience of the cleanup effort had been a frustrating procedure. She said that here were a lot of people milling about, going into and out of meetings, but when she talked to her people on the ground, the whole process was extremely sluggish. When it came right down to the ‘world-class, oil-spill response’, it just did not come about.

Ms. Slett added that it had been an annoying attempting to get the system mobilised. Ms. Slett also said that it would probably be some time prior before they understood how badly the clam waters were polluted.

Judging from heavy odour of diesel on the garments of the Heiltsuk volunteers who had come back from the spill sites, she appeared deeply anxious.

The Dangers of Large Gasoline Barges

Ingmar Lee, an environmental activist who lives on Denny Island in close proximity to Bella Bella, has been warning for several years about the large gasoline barges meandering up and down the coast of British Columbia.

British Columbia

He had especially been voicing his worries concerning the Nathan E. Stewart, which he first encountered some years ago as it was pushing the DBL 55 through Fitzhugh Sound, south of Bella Bella. He was shocked at the dimensions of the barge and thought it risky for a vessel of that size to be navigating the narrow Inside Passage.

He said that only one small error, a power failure or something similar and within minutes, you could be on the rocks.

The crew of the Nathan E. Stewart learned that the hard way last Thursday.

The Expansion of the Pipelines

The response of the spill that followed is a long way from what B.C. should offer, especially in respect to the rise in tanker traffic that will arrive if either of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project, or Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion go ahead.

Responding to the tug and barge incident, Premier Christy Clark explained that she had argued for five years that the spill reaction was thoroughly insufficient, not just from the point of view of the future pipelines coming from Alberta, but also from what was going up and down the coastline at the moment. She also agree with the critics, saying that there comments about the spill were very appropriate.

When the pipelines are in place, there will be a lot more tankers on the coast. The government has recognised this for many years but has not, as of yet, put in position the “world-class” oil spill management that British Columbia first mooted in 2012.

A final decision about the proposed $6.8-billion Trans Mountain pipeline is expected by the Federal Cabinet in December. Last June, the Federal Court of Appeal overturned federal approval of the $7.9-billion Northern Gateway challenge after ruling that Ottawa had not adequately consulted the First Nation people.

Source article:  B.C. government’s lack of progress on oil spill response highlighted by tug accident

Australian Oil Company Sued By Indonesian Seaweed Farmers

Over 13,000 Indonesian seaweed farmers have launched an enormous action in Australia’s federal court demanding compensation for the outcomes of Australia’s worst oil spill.

In August 2009, there was an enormous explosion at an oil well in Australian waters in the Timor Sea. The well was operated by a subsidiary on the state-owned Thai oil business, PTT Exploration and Production Public Company (PTTEP). For over ten weeks between 3,776 to 28,323 tonnes of oil spilled into the sea.

In September, 2009 things started to change. Indonesian seaweed farmers on Rote Island, 250km away, said the disaster had devastated their livelihood. According to one eye witness, the water was multi-coloured and the seaweed started to change colour as well. At the time, there were also many dead fish. Over the next four years all the seaweed they had planted died.

Seaweed Farmers


The Seaweed Farmers’ Lawyer

Australian lawyers are seeking about A$200m for seaweed farmers that have suffered as a result of Australia’s largest oil spill. Lawyer Greg Phelps was quoted as saying that it may seem like a lot of money but there are many seaweed farmers and the seaweed farmers had enterprises with returns of as much as A$30,000 a year, also stating that A$30,000 was an appreciable amount of money when considering the local economic system.

According to the BBC, Mr Phelps made the decision to get on the situation soon after travelling to Rote Island and listening to the seaweed farmers’ stories. He suggested that the stories recounted by the farmers were compelling and it became obvious to him that a really substantial area had been affected by a huge amount of pollution. Lawyers are suing PTTEP Australasia, a subsidiary of PTTEP.

The Response by PTTEP Australasia

PTTEP Australasia has given a statement saying it paid for the largest unbiased scientific analysis application ever undertaken into the Timor Sea environment. This confirmed that no oil from the spill landed on the shores of Indonesia. PTTEP Australasia also stated that there was no lasting impact to the extremely delicate and biodiverse ecosystems in the areas closest to Indonesian waters, although none of its studies or tests was actually done in Indonesian waters or around Rote.

PTTEP Australasia stated that it was fair to extrapolate. The studies showed that the reefs closest to Montara had no lasting negative impacts. As this was where the oil and dispersant concentrations were at their highest, it would be highly improbable that the shoreline of Nusa Tenggara Timor (NTT) would have been more impacted.

Rote Island and Northern Australia

Indonesia is among the top seaweed producers. Farmers on Rote were earning more than they ever thought possible. In some cases over A$20,000 per annum – a staggeringly large amount of money considering the island’s economic climate.

Indonesian activist Ferdi Tanoni has for several years fruitlessly lobbied both the Indonesian and Australian governments and also PTTEP Australasia to fund a proper environmental evaluation on the effects of the oil spill. For him, the truth that the situation is currently in court is actually a victory.

Ferdi stated that the seaweed farmers now have allies all over the environment and that he had faith in the justice system in Australia. However, the legal system in Australia is as slow as anywhere else in the world. Lawyers are warning that the situation could drag on for months or maybe years.

Please note: Dragon Sorb in no way intends to apportion blame and this article is for informational use only.

UK Oil Spills

Torrey Canyon – the Worst Oil Spill in British History

The Torrey Canyon oil spill, off the south-west coast of the United Kingdom in 1967, is among the world’s most significant oil spills.

The Torrey Canyon was built in the United States in 1959 and, at the time, could carry 60,000 tons. She was enlarged to 120,000 tons in Japan in 1965. At the time of the stranding, the Torrey Canyon was chartered to British Petroleum (BP). She was registered in Liberia but she was actually owned by the Bermudian Barracuda Tanker Corporation. This was a subsidiary of Union Oil Company of California, USA. An example of the tangled web of international shipping.

Efforts to lessen the damage to the environment involved the bombing of the wreck by aircraft from the Royal Navy (RN) and Royal Air Force (RAF). The impact of the oil spill was felt over many hundreds of kilometres of shoreline in Britain, France, Guernsey, and Spain. The running aground and eventual break-up of the supertanker left a damaging ecological legacy. It was also responsible for a more positive international legacy, as the disaster led to numerous changes in international regulations. The first was the Global Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Destruction (CLC) of 1969. This imposed strict liability on ship owners without the need to prove negligence. The second was the much more prolific International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) in 1973. An introduction to MARPOL can be found here.

Until the Odyssey Oil Spill in 1988, the Torrey Canyon was the world’s worst oil spill, with somewhere between 25-36 million gallons of crude oil being spilt. Fortunately, up until the present (2016), it continues to be the worst spill in the UK.

The Torrey Canyon Stranding

At the start of her last voyage (19th February 1967), the Torrey Canyon left the Kuwait National Petroleum Company refinery at Mina Al-Ahmadi, Kuwait (later Al-Ahmadi) full to the brim with crude oil. The ship’s final destination was Milford Haven in Wales. She reached the Canary Islands on 14th March and the Isles of Scilly four days later.

As she didn’t have a scheduled route, she lacked a set of full scale charts for the Isles of Scilly. This, and possibly because she was using the less advanced LORAN navigator, led to a navigational error, and on 18th March 1967 the Torrey Canyon struck Pollard’s Rock on the Seven Stones reef in between the Cornish mainland and the Isles of Scilly.

Which Way Again - Oil Spills

Sorry But Which Way Again?

As the Torrey Canyon was nearing the Isles of Scilly, the fishing fleet was leaving harbor. With a collision turning imminent, there was some confusion between the Captain and the helmsman as to where the ship exactly was. There was also uncertainty as to whether the vessel was being manually steered or was under automatic steering.

The confusion led to the grounding being unavoidable. During the hours and days that followed, substantial attempts were made to get the vessel off the reef but these proved unsuccessful. Sadly, the attempts led to the death of a member on the Dutch salvage crew, Captain Stal.

Left A Bit. Right A Bit. Fire!

Following the failed attempts to refloat the vessel, the main focus turned to clean up and containment of the resulting oil spill. Detergent was deployed on a huge scale by Cornwall fire brigade and the attending Royal Navy vessels to try to disperse the oil. The UK Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, and the Cabinet held a mini-cabinet session on the Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Culdrose. They decided set fire to the vessel and the oil slick to restrict the catastrophic effects of the oil spill. The following events recall the best of British farce.

On 28 March 1967, the Fleet Air Arm sent Blackburn Buccaneer planes from RNAS Lossiemouth to drop forty-two 1,000-lb bombs on the ship. Then, the Royal Air Force sent Hawker Hunter jets from RAF Chivenor to drop cans of aviation fuel to help make the oil blaze more intensely.

Torrey Canyon

However, exceptionally high tides put the fire out and it took more bombing runs by Sea Vixens from RNAS Yeovilton and Buccaneers from RNAS Brawdy, as well as yet more RAF Hunters with liquified petroleum jelly to ignite the oil. Bombing continued the subsequent day prior to Torrey Canyon eventually sinking.

Unfortunately, attempts to make use of foam-filled containment booms were also mostly ineffectual, because of the high seas.

Later, in the aftermath of the spill, the British government was strongly criticised for its dealings with the incident, which was at that time, the most costly catastrophe ever. Both the RAF and the Royal Navy were also ridiculed for their rather pathetic bombing efforts, as a quarter of the forty-two bombs dropped missed their large, non-moving target.

The Environmental Consequences of the Oil Spill

50 miles (80 km) of French and 120 miles (190 km) of Cornish coastline were contaminated. All-around 15,000 sea birds ended up being killed, as well as massive numbers of maritime organisms, before the 700 km2 slick was dispersed.

Substantially damage was caused from the heavy use of the so-called detergents to break up the slick – these were first-generation variants of ‘detergents’ first formulated to scrub surfaces in ships’ engine-rooms, without any thought of the toxicity of their components. Several observers believed they were called ‘detergents’, instead of the far more accurate ‘solvent-emulsifiers’, to motivate comparison with more benign domestic cleansing products.

Some 42 vessels sprayed over 10,000 lots of these dispersants on to the floating oil and oil on seashores. In Cornwall, they were frequently misused – for instance, by emptying 45-gallon drums from the top of cliffs to ‘treat’ inaccessible coves or by pouring a stream of dispersants from a low-hovering helicopter. On the intensely oiled beach front at Sennen Cove, dispersant pouring from drums was ‘ploughed’ into the sand by bulldozers a number of times, burying the oil so well that it could be identified 12 months or more afterwards.

After the Torrey Canyon Oil Spill

Apart from the furor about the incompetence of the UK government, the British and French governments issued claims from the owners of the vessel. The subsequent settlement was the largest ever in maritime history for an oil spill claim.

An inquiry in Liberia found that the captain, Pastrengo Rugiati, was to blame for the poor decision in steering the Torrey Canyon between the Scillies and the Seven Stones. The first officer was also to blame for the ill-advised course corrections while the captain slept. Safer course alternatives had been discarded on account of the pressure to arrive in port at Milford Haven by high tide on 18th March.

Coconut Trees - Cocopeat

Cocopeat and The Sustainability of the Humble Coconut

Dragon Sorb is made up of natural products and because you can’t sell anything these days without someone mentioning the environment, we thought it would be useful to explain why Dragon Sorb Cocopeat is seriously good for your Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs.

What Exactly is Cocopeat?

There is some confusion about what cocopeat actually is so let’s start with a quick introduction.

Cocopeat is also known as coir pith, coir fibre pith, coir dust, or simply coir. It is made from coconut husks, which are by-products of other industries that use coconuts, including another of our own products – Nordic Dry. It is chiefly made up of coir fibre pith which is acquired by processing coconut husks and removing the long strands.

Cocopeat can hold large amounts of liquids. A kilogram will grow to 15 litres of damp cocopeat making it a naturally superior absorbent. Phenol, which is a chemical compound naturally found in cocopeat, makes it, the cocopeat, effectual at attaching to the oil when being used to clean up oil spills. This is obviously why we at Dragon Sorb love cocopeat so much.

Why is Cocopeat Great for Your CSR Programs?

One great thing about coconut trees is that they have no need of chemical fertilizers for growing. One tree can also yield up to 200 coconuts each year, which means that the humble coconut is a resource that is easily renewed. This all means that it is well-known for its environmental sustainability. This is why your company can proudly boast that when you are using Dragon Sorb absorbent, you are doing your bit for green issues.

The Wonders of Cocopeat

At Dragon Sorb, we don’t just recognize the scientific wonders of cocopeat. We also know the importance of having a solution to oil spills that does not do even more damage to the environment than is already being done. Using Dragon Sorb is a great start to the healing process for the harm done by oil spills.

Additionally, as cocopeat is a by-product of already existing processes in the coconut industry, it is not taken from places that are becoming damaged when coconuts are harvested. We mainly get our cocopeat from Vietnam, where we work closely with companies to ensure that our products are of the highest possible quality.

With an environmentally friendly and affordable product, we can help keep our planet clean for our children and our children’s children.

Introduction to MARPOL

This post is an introduction to MARPOL, which is the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships. MARPOL stands for Marine Pollution, in case you were wondering.

It is a bit complex so what we have tried to do is put the rather dry, technical English into something we can all (hopefully) understand. The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships is also ridiculously long so we are going to split it up into what we believe will be more manageable segments.

Remember to bookmark this page if you want to come back to it at a later date.

Introduction to MARPOL

“The MARPOL Convention is the main international convention covering prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships from operational or accidental causes. It is a combination of two treaties adopted in 1973 and 1978 respectively and updated by amendments through the years.

The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) was adopted on 2 November 1973 at IMO and covered pollution by oil, chemicals and harmful substances in packaged form, sewage and garbage. The Protocol of 1978 relating to the 1973 International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (1978 MARPOL Protocol) was adopted at a Conference on Tanker Safety and Pollution Prevention in February 1978 held in response to a spate of tanker accidents in 1976-1977. (Measures relating to tanker design and operation were also incorporated into a Protocol of 1978 relating to the 1974 Convention on the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974).

The Convention includes regulations aimed at preventing and minimizing pollution from ships – both accidental pollution and that from routine operations.”

International Maritime Organization

We’ll start with where waste oil comes from, how it behaves at sea, and how it affects sea life.

Where Waste Oil Comes From

Let’s start with an overview in bullet point form.

  • Waste oil generated in a ship originates from various places; primarily from the sludge, slop, bilge, and ballast water system.
  • The discharging of oil into the sea from ship operations is due to both lawful and unlawful discharges.
  • Usually, ship-generated oily waste is taken to shore, burnt on board, and legally and/or illegally discharged into sea.
  • Oil tankers are used to transport hundreds of millions of tonnes of crude oil and refined products by sea.

I think you can see, there is no real mystery to where waste oil comes from. It should also be noted that most of the time, oil is transported safely and securely.

Obviously, this has not always been the case, which is why measures introduced by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) have aimed at making sure all oil tankers are securely constructed and operated. One of the other aims has been to reduce the amount of oil spilled when an accident occurs.

It is also worth noting that operational oil pollution; for example,  when tankers are cleaned out, has also been cut.

How Oil Behaves At Sea

Behaviour of Oil Spills

Image Credit: Coastal Environmental Assessment Regional Activity Centre

The consequences of oil spills on marine life are the result of either the physical presence of the oil (actual physical contamination and smothering) or by its chemical factors (toxic results and accumulation resulting in tainting).

Unfortunately, marine life may also be impacted by the operations to clean up the oil spill through the use of dispersants like detergents.

The key threat posed to animals and plants by oil spills is physical smothering. The maritime species most at risk are the ones affected by the contaminated sea surface. Additionally, maritime mammals and reptiles are also at risk of smothering. For example, birds that feed by diving; birds that form flocks over the sea; and maritime life on shorelines.

Animals and vegetation are also at risk in mariculture systems. This is “the specialized branch of aquaculture involving the cultivation of marine organisms for food and other products in the open ocean, an enclosed section of the ocean, or in tanks, ponds or raceways which are filled with seawater. An example of the latter is the farming of marine fish, including finfish and shellfish like prawns, or oysters and seaweed in saltwater ponds. Non-food products produced by mariculture include: fish meal, nutrient agar, jewellery (e.g. cultured pearls), and cosmetics.” Wikipedia – Click here if you’d like to read more about mariculture.

How Waste Oil Spills Affects Sea Life

Generally, the most harmful constituents of oil are disappear quickly by evaporation when oil is spilt. For this reason, lethal concentrations of toxins resulting in huge scale mortalities of maritime life are comparatively unusual. Additionally, when this does happen, it is only the immediate area that is affected and the effects do not last long.

Outcomes that hinder the ability of marine organisms to breed, reach maturity, feed, or complete other functions might be brought about by prolonged contact to the concentration of oil or oil elements which is far lower than the amount needed to lead to loss of life.


Less active animals in shallow waters such as oysters, mussels and clams, that regularly filter large volumes of seawater to extract nutrients are more likely to accumulate oil constituents. Although these constituents might not induce any rapid harm, their existence may possibly render these animals unpleasant to eat if they are consumed, due to the presence of an oily taste or odour.

It is a short-term problem since the constituents causing the unpleasantness disappear when things return to normal.

The next article in the series is coming soon. Don’t forget to bookmark this page.