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1. (WO1992009751) FLOATING CONTAMINANT CONTAINMENT SYSTEMS
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Claims

1. A method of containing a contaminant floating on water,
comprising in combination the steps of:
providing sheet material at the site of said contaminant for fabrication of an inflatable structure;
continually closing said sheet material into an inflatable structure at said site and upon the occurrence of said contaminant floating on water;
continually inflating said structure;
continually working the sheet material including the inflated structure into a containment boom structure; and
continually deploying said containment boom structure into said water against the spread of said contaminant on said water.

2. A method as in claim 1,
wherein:
a closed portion of said sheet material is inflated, while a succeeding portion of said sheet material is being closed for succeeding inflatio .

3. A method as in claim 1,
wherein:
said sheet material is incrementally closed by continually sealing a marginal section of said sheet material to a longitudinally extending inner section of said sheet material; and
each closed increment of said sheet material is inflated, while a succeeding increment of said marginal section is sealed to a corresponding portion of said inner section of the sheet material.

4. A method as in claim 1,
wherein:
said sheet material is incrementally closed by continually sealing a first marginal section of said sheet material to a longitudinally extending first inner section of said sheet material, and by continually sealing a second marginal section of said sheet material to a longitudinally extending second inner section of said sheet material;
each closed increment of said sheet material on one side of said sealed first marginal section and first inner section is inflated, while a succeeding increment of said first marginal section is sealed to a corresponding portion of said first inner section; and
each closed increment of said sheet material on one side of said sealed second marginal section and second inner section is loaded with ballast.

5. A method as in claim 1,
wherein:
said sheet material has longitudinal margins which are at opposite sides of said sheet material when said sheet material is delivered to said site prior to said closing of the sheet material into an inflatable structure at said site.

6. A method as in claim 5 ,
wherein:
all of said sheet material is between said longitudinal margins when said sheet material is delivered to said site.

7. A method as in claim 5,
wherein:
only part of said sheet material is between said longitudinal margins, while a remainder of said sheet material is on said part, when said sheet material is delivered to said site.

8. A method as in claim 1,
wherein :
said sheet material has a marginal region folded over part of an inner region of said sheet material;
said sheet material is continually closed by continually sealing said marginal region along a marginal portion thereof to an adjacent longitudinal portion of said inner region; and
space between said marginal region and an adjacent area of said inner region is continually inflated.

9. A method as in claim 8,
wherein:
said sheet material has a second marginal region folded over part of a second inner region of said sheet material ;
said second marginal region is continually sealed along a marginal portion of said second marginal region to an adjacent longitudinal portion of said second inner region; and
ballast is loaded in space between said second marginal region and an adjacent area of said second inner region.

10. A method as in claim 1,
wherein:
said sheet material is composed of at least two interconnected parts having adjacent first and second margins and an inflatable region inside said first and second margins ;
said sheet material is continually closed by continually sealing said two parts along said first and second margins; and
said inflatable region is continually inflated.

11. A method as in claim 10,
wherein:
said sheet material has a third part interconnected with at least said first part, said first and third parts having adjacent third and fourth margins;
said first and third parts are sealed along said third and fourth margins and loaded with ballast inside of said sealed third and fourth margins.

12. A method as in claim 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 or 11,
wherein:
said inflating structure is continually subdivided into floating compartments.

13. A method as in claim 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8 or 10,
wherein:
said working of sheet material into a containment boom structure includes loading said sheet material with ballast.

14. A method as in claim 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 or 11,
including the steps of:
providing machinery for continually fabricating said containment boom structure from said sheet material at said site; and
continually closing said sheet material into an inflatable structure, continually inflating said structure, and continually working said sheet material into a containment boom structure with said machinery at said site upon the occurrence of said contaminant floating on water.

15. A method as in claim 14 ,
wherein:
said working of said sheet material includes using said machinery to load said sheet material with ballast.

16. A method as in claim 14,
wherein:
said machinery is stationary at said site.

17. A method as in claim 14,
wherein :
said machinery is transportable and is transported to said site upon occurrence of said contaminant.

18. A method as in claim 14,
including the steps of:
providing a launch capable of being carried by an oil tanker;
storing said machinery on said launch for fabricating said containment boom structure;
deploying said launch to said site;
continually closing said sheet material into an inflatable structure, continually inflating said structure, and continually working said sheet material into a containment boom structure on said launch at said site upon the occurrence of said contaminant floating on water; and
continually deploying said containment boom structure from said launch into said water against the spread of said contaminant while said launch is advancing on said water at said site.

19. A method as in claim 14,
wherein:
the volume of said containment boom structure continually fabricated from said sheet material with said machinery at the site and upon the occurrence of said contaminant is at least two orders of magnitude larger than the combined volume of said sheet material and machinery.

20. A method as in claim 1,
including the steps of:
providing a forming shoulder assembly for forming said sheet material into a tubular structure, and continually closing said sheet material by passing said sheet material through said forming shoulder assembly at the site of said contaminant to form said tubular structure with said sheet material, and continually sealing said tubular structure;
continually inflating said tubular structure; and
continually working sheet material including said continually inflated tubular structure into a containment boom structure.

21. A method as in claim 1,
including the steps of:
providing a pair of forming shoulder assemblies for forming said sheet material into tubes, and continually closing said sheet material by passing said sheet material through said forming shoulder assemblies at the site of said contaminant to form said sheet material into a tubular structure having a first tube for flotation and a second tube for ballast, and continually sealing said first tube and said second tube;
continually inflating said first tube;
continually loading said second tube with ballast; and
continually working sheet material including said continually inflated first tube and loaded second tube into a containment boom structure.

22. Apparatus for containing a contaminant floating on water,
comprising in combination:
means for continually closing sheet material into an inflatable structure at the site and upon the occurrence of said contaminant floating on water;
means for continually working the sheet material into a containment boom structure, including means for continually inflating said inflatable structure; and
means for continually deploying said containment boom structure into said water against the spread of said contaminant on said water.

23. Apparatus as in claim 22,
wherein:
said means for continually inflating said structure inflate a closed portion of said sheet material, while said means for continually closing sheet material close a succeeding portion of said sheet material for succeeding inflation.

24. Apparatus as in claim 22,
wherei :
said means for continually closing sheet material incrementally seal a marginal section of said sheet material to a longitudinally extending inner section of said sheet material; and
said inflating means inflate each closed increment of said sheet material, while a succeeding increment of said marginal section is sealed to a corresponding portion of said inner section of the sheet material.

25. Apparatus as in claim 22,
wherein:
said means for continually closing sheet material incrementally seal a first marginal section of said sheet material to a longitudinally extending first inner section of said sheet material, and incrementally seal a second marginal section of said sheet material to a longitudinally extending second inner section of said sheet material;
said inflating means inflate each closed increment of said sheet material on one side of said sealed first marginal section and first inner section, while a succeeding increment of said first marginal section is sealed to a corresponding portion of said first inner section; and
said apparatus includes means for loading each closed increment of said sheet material on one side of said sealed second marginal section and second inner section with ballast.

26. Apparatus as in claim 22,
wherein :
said sheet material has a marginal region folded over part of an inner region of said sheet material;
said means for continually closing sheet material continually seal said marginal region along a marginal portion thereof to an adjacent longitudinal portion of said inner region; and
said inflating means continually inflate space between said marginal region and an adjacent area of said inner region.

27. Apparatus as in claim 26,
wherein:
said sheet material has a second marginal region folded over part of a second inner region of said sheet material;
said means for continually closing sheet material continually seal said second marginal region along a marginal portion of said second marginal region to an adjacent longitudinal portion of said second inner region; and
said apparatus includes means for loading ballast in space between said second marginal region and an adjacent area of said second inner region.

28. Apparatus as in claim 22,
wherein:
said sheet material is composed of at least two interconnected parts having adjacent first and second margins and an inflatable region inside said first and second margins ;
said means for continually closing sheet material continually seal said two parts along said first and second margins; and
said inflating means continually inflate said inflatable region.

29. Apparatus as in claim 28,
wherein:
said sheet material has a third part interconnected with at least said first part, said first and third parts having adjacent third and fourth margins;
said inflating means seal said first and third parts along said third and fourth margins; and
said apparatus includes means for loading said sealed third and fourth margins with ballast.

30. Apparatus as in claim 22,
wherein:
said means for continually closing said sheet material include a forming shoulder assembly, and means for forming said sheet material into an inflatable tubular structure by passing said sheet material through said forming shoulder assembly at the site of said contaminant; and
said means for continually working the sheet material into a containment boom structure include means for continually inflating said inflatable tubular structure and for continually working said inflating tubular structure into a containment boom structure .

31. Apparatus as in claim 22,
wherein:
said means for continually closing said sheet material include a pair of forming shoulder assemblies, and means for forming said sheet material into a tubular structure having a first tube for flotation and a second tube for ballast by passing said sheet material through said forming shoulder assemblies at the site of said contaminant; and
said means for continually working said sheet material into a containment boom structure include means for continually inflating said first tube and for continually loading said second tube with ballast, and for continually working the sheet material containing said inflating first tube and the loaded second tube into a containment boom structure.

32. Apparatus as in claim 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 or 31,
wherei :
said apparatus includes means for continually subdividing said inflating structure into floating compartments .

33. Apparatus as in claim 22, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28 or 30,
wherein:
said means for continually working said sheet material into a containment boom structure include means for loading said sheet material with ballast.

34. Apparatus as in claim 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 or 31,
including:
a first structure at a shoreline for mounting said means for continually closing said sheet material, and said means for continually working said sheet material into a containment boom structure, including said means for continually inflating said structure;
said means for continually deploying said containment boom structure including a moveable second structure for pulling said containment boom structure away from said first structure.

35. Apparatus as in claim 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 or 31,
including:
a transportable structure;
said means for continually closing said sheet material, and said means for continually working said sheet material into a containment boom structure, including said means for continually inflating said structure, being on said transportable structure.

36. Apparatus as in claim 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 or 31,
including:
a launch capable of being carried by an oil tanker;
said means for continually closing said sheet material, and said means for continually working said sheet material into a containment boom structure, including said means for continually inflating said structure, and said means for continually deploying said containment boom structure being on said launch.

37. Apparatus as in claim 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 or 31,
wherei :
the volume of said containment boom structure fabricated from said sheet material at the site of said contaminant is at least two orders of magnitude larger than the combined volume of said sheet material and said means for continually closing said sheet material, and said means for continually working said sheet material into a containment boom structure, including said means for continually inflating said structure.

38. A containment boom structure on a body of water at the site of a contaminant, made by a method, comprising in combination the steps of:
providing sheet material at the site of said contaminant for fabrication of an inflatable structure;
continually closing said sheet material into an inflatable structure at said site and upon the occurrence of said contaminant floating on water;
continually inflating said structure;
continually working the sheet material including the inflated structure into a containment boom structure; and
continually deploying said containment boom structure into said water against the spread of said contaminant on said water.