Effective Pollution Prevention Measures: Four Common Problem Areas with Tips to Help You Comply with SPCC
One of the main goals of SPCC planning is to create procedures to help prevent oil spills from leaving facilities and reaching streams, lakes, oceans or other waters. If these proactive measures fail, facilities also need to be prepared to handle spills.
The SPCC regulations allow facilities the flexibility to create their own procedures to prevent pollution, based on what the facility coordinators and, in some cases, the certifying engineer determine will be the best possible solutions.
For new facilities or existing facilities that add additions, pollution prevention designs can sometimes be worked into building plans. In facilities that have been around longer, retrofitting pollution prevention devices can be a little more complicated because many older facilities have floor drains or other design features that limit the ability to keep oil contained.
Fortunately, products are available that don't require costly engineering changes. Pre-fabricated products are versatile, and often far less costly than traditional engineered retro-fitting.
Totes, 55-gallon drums and above ground storage tanks are common examples of things that may need to have containment to meet SPCC regulations.
Containment Pallets are an easy solution for containing leaks and spills from drums and portable containers. Sumps keep everything from nuisance leaks to catastrophic failures contained for easy clean up and possible re-use.
Pallets are available in polyethylene, fluorinated polyethylene and steel to help ensure safety and chemical resistance. Pallets also typically range in size from one-drum to eight-drums.
IBC Containment Units are similar to drum pallets, but are often taller to accommodate the larger sump capacity that is necessary for totes. Common sump volumes range from 250-500 gallons
Roll-Top Storage Units are available for both drums and totes. These allow products to be stored outdoors without the worries of water accumulating in the sump. Many facilities also use these units indoors to keep containers clean and dry.
Flexible Berms are an alternative to concrete curbing, and are another containment option for large storage areas or for processing areas. The foam core of the berm allows forklifts, carts and foot traffic to travel over the berm easily, and allows the berm to immediately spring back into shape to provide containment for leaks and spills.
An added benefit of flexible berms is that they can be easily pulled up and put down in another area if facility plans or needs change.
Transfer areas can be indoors or out. Any time fluids move from a container or pipeline into a process or another container, the likelihood of spills increase.
Collapsible Containment Systems are a good choice for facilities that receive bulk materials regularly. These systems can be designed in nearly any size, and are capable of containing anything from routine leaks to the loss of an entire tank load. Collapsible systems allow a driver to drive over a collapsed wall of the unit, and then simply pop the containment wall back into place to provide containment during transfer.
For facilities that have loading docks that are recessed or sloped to drains, containment units may not be as necessary. However, protecting drains from accidental releases is just as essential. See the "Protecting Drains" section for more options.
Pop Up Pools are smaller than collapsible containment systems, but are fast and efficient to deploy under hose connections or leaky pipelines. For outdoor areas that aren't in direct proximity to a drain, or for facilities that have onsite water treatment capabilities; they may also be sufficient to meet planning requirements.
Drum Funnels and Accessories help keep transfer areas clean. Sometimes, it seems almost impossible to transfer materials from one container to another without at least a little dribble. Left unchecked, these nuisance leaks and drips can often be tracked throughout the facility, with residues entering floor drains when floors are scrubbed or machinery is cleaned.
Protecting Drains (indoors and out)
Drain Covers are flexible, polyurethane sheets that can be quickly deployed over drains to keep spills out. When fluid transfer is complete, or a threat is mitigated, the cover can be removed and stored for reuse. Many sizes are available to fit a variety of drains. Some can even be driven over without being destroyed.
Drain Plugs are also made of polyurethane. They are most often used in indoor applications and serve as a great substitute for permanently cementing floor drains. Drain Plugs can be left in place to protect drains against spills, but can be quickly removed for routine wash downs.
Absorbent spill kits are another essential component to SPCC planning. Although it probably isn't practical to stock enough absorbents to absorb an entire tanker spill, kits can help with incidental spills or help get larger ones under control until backup measures, such as vacuum trucks or other mechanical removal tools, can be initiated.
Making it work
Traditionally, many people are led to believe that expensive containment devices and highly engineered systems are the only viable solution to leak and spill issues at your facility; and in some cases, that may be true; but, many facilities can benefit from pre-fabricated options that save money and allow the facility to come into compliance sooner.