Question: I need a secondary containment system and am having a hard time choosing between a pallet and deck. What’s the difference?
Answer: Freedom of choice can be frustrating when you’re not sure of the differences between Choice A and Choice B, which is often the case with containment pallets and decks. Let’s take a closer look at how to make the right choice.
Liquids in Contact
One of the first considerations when choosing a pallet or deck is chemical resistance. Both pallets and decks are available in steel, polyethylene and fluorinated polyethylene, and chemical resistance guides are available to help determine what materials will be suitable for contact with the liquids being contained.
Steel pallets and decks units are the preferred choice when dedicated bonding and grounding points are required, such as when storing solvents, fuels and other flammable liquids. Steel is also less prone to cracking in cold conditions or softening in high temperatures.
Polyethylene pallets and decks are commonly used for corrosive chemicals, non-flammable liquids, and in areas where temperature extremes are not a factor.
Fluorinated polyethylene units help increase chemical resistance to chlorinated solvents and certain other chemicals that commonly degrade regular polyethylene units.
Draining and loading are two other important factors to consider when choosing a spill pallet or deck.
Pallets can typically be fitted with factory-installed drain plugs to help facilitate draining of accumulated liquids. For decks, the ports on each side can be fitted with a pass-through, allowing a drain plug or hose to be connected. If drain plugs are not permitted or desired, pump-out kits are another option for removing fluids.
Because pallets and decks are elevated surfaces, ramps, drum lifting devices or forklift attachments that help raise and lower containers are other aspects to keep in mind. Although it is possible to “bump” the drum up over the edge of some lower height decks, repeatedly doing this can cause the deck to develop stress cracks over time.
Pallets are designed to help meet federal secondary containment regulations for 55-gallon drums [40 CFR 264.175]. Pallets are available in various sizes, from one drum to eight drum capacities.
Consider whether or not the unit will be moved while loaded when looking at a polyethylene pallet. Heavy-duty pallets are designed to withstand this added pressure, so they won’t bow or crack during transport. Standard-duty pallets are fine for most static loads, but are not designed to be moved while loaded.
Decks feature inter-connectible sumps that can be used independently to capture nuisance leaks and spills. These units can also be linked together to increase sump capacity and provide spill containment for multiple 55-gallon drums.
Decks are often the best option when:
- Space is available for linking multiple units together to achieve regulation-required sump capacity
- The unit does not need to be portable
- Low-profile is desired for drum-top accessibility or frequent loading/unloading
- A single device is used for “housekeeping” purposes rather than “full containment”
A Product for Every Need
Because of their versatility, containment pallets and decks can fit multiple needs, making it difficult to choose which is best for a certain application. If after reading this post you’re still unsure whether to go with a pallet or deck, consider testing both out to see what fit is best for you.