Question: I’m trying to find a drum pump for my hazmat spill response team that is compatible with hazardous liquids. We need to be able to respond to spills of any type. Do you have any recommendations?
Answer: When you’re going to use a drum pump for daily operations, it is essential to get one that is compatible with the liquids being pumped so that it will withstand months or years of use without degrading.
But spill response should be approached differently. It’s about stopping the spill now and preventing further harm to employees and the environment.
A drum pump that’s used in spill response doesn’t need to last for months or years – it just needs to make it through the response. So while it’s a good idea to have one with a broad chemical resistance, if you do find one that is good with “everything,” it’s probably going to be a pricey piece of equipment.
The two drum pumps that I’ve used most often during spill response are a very inexpensive siphon pump and a slightly more expensive stainless steel pump with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) gaskets. The nice thing about both of these pumps is that because they aren’t expensive, they can be disposed of after the response, which saves the time and expense of decontaminating them.
A siphon pump is good for a variety of liquids. It’s very simple to operate, doesn’t require running airlines or a power source to it and at less than $30 each, it’s not a big strain on the budget to keep a few of them in stock. Two limitations with this pump are that it is not safe for use with flammables because plastic is inherently static prone and it’s not good with thick liquids.
For flammables, a stainless steel pump with PTFE gaskets is a safer choice because it can be bonded and grounded to help control static. Stainless steel and PTFE both have a fairly broad chemical range, but they are about four times the price of the siphon pump and have a slower flow rate. Although this pump is pricier than the siphon pump, it’s probably not worth going through the trouble of decontamination for reuse.