• Spills — Should You Absorb Them or Contain Them
  • Karen

    Karen D. Hamel, CSP, WACH, is a regulatory compliance professional, trainer and technical writer for New Pig. She has more than 22 years of experience helping EHS professionals find solutions to meet EPA, OSHA and DOT regulations and has had more than 100 articles published on a variety of EHS topics. Karen is a Certified Safety Professional (CSP), Walkway Auditor Certificate Holder (WACH), Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) trainer and hazmat technician. She also serves on the Blair County, Pa., LEPC and has completed a variety of environmental, safety, emergency response, DOT and NIMS courses, including Planning Section Chief. She has conducted seminars at national conferences and webinars for ASSE and other national organizations. She can be reached at 1-800-HOT-HOGS (468-4647) or by email karenea@newpig.com.

  • Jack Oliversays:
    01/13/2015 at 11:29 am Reply

    Hi! I’ve read several blogs by Karen and wanted to say how much I’ve enjoyed the humor in her writing style. It makes reading much more fun and enjoyable.

    Thanks Karen!

    Jack Oliver

    • Jensays:
      01/19/2015 at 9:39 am Reply

      Thanks for letting us know, Jack! We think Karen does a great job too!

  • Eric Jonessays:
    02/01/2017 at 3:56 pm Reply

    Cost and reclaiming material should be a point of discussion as well. Disposal of contaminated absorbent rags, desiccants, or other solid materials that cannot be reclaimed can be substantial. Potential uses for the spilled material in other application or reclaiming spilled material can be an option. However, desiccants seem to cut down on evaporation of volatile chemicals and reduce respiratory exposure.

    • Karensays:
      02/06/2017 at 2:03 pm Reply

      Absolutely! This is actually a discussion that we frequently have with customers, especially when they are just getting started with spill response planning. It is easy to think that if you have the potential for a 1,000-gallon spill and having absorbents capable of absorbing 1,000 gallons would be an easy solution.

      We’re all about absorbents. But, we realize that the cost of those absorbents can be hard to swallow. And, once they’re at your site, you need to find a good place to store them – and that many absorbents can take up quite a bit of space! Then, if they are ever used, it can be quite expensive to send everything for fuel blending, incineration or disposal. (The same can be said for disposing of bulk desiccants, especially since most are silica-based, which makes them a poor choice for fuel blending and incineration and could prohibit landfilling if they allow free liquids to leach.)

      Because of this, we often recommend that customers consider containment options in conjunction with absorbents. Containing spills with dikes and berms keeps them from spreading and provides you with more options than simply absorbing the entire volume. For example, a contained spill can be vacuumed or pumped into containers. At this point, some people may be able to reuse those fluids. In other cases, the bulk fluids can be recycled more easily than if the fluids are absorbed into socks and mats.

      When you see coverage of large oil spill responses at sea, you often see a variety of techniques used. Absorbent mats and booms are often used on shorelines, and containment booms are used on water to contain the oil spill so that large pumping vessels can collect and reclaim the oil. The same principles work on land and with smaller spills.

      With any spill response products, a key goal is to get the spill under control and cleaned up as quickly as possible. There are many ways to do this, and there is no “best” way that is guaranteed to work for any facility. Fortunately, there are lots of great spill response products, no matter how you choose to clean up spills!

      Thanks,
      Karen

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