Secondary Spill Containment in the Workplace

man sets barrel of chemicals on spill containment pallet in the workplace

Understanding Secondary Containment in the Workplace

When Is Spill Containment Required?

Secondary spill containment is imperative to protecting people, animals, and the environment.  Every business owner or manager must take the steps of keeping their facility as safe as possible. Spills of hazardous materials, chemicals, sewage, and oil can wreak havoc on the environment, cause accidents, illnesses, and more, so it's important to always have high-quality spill control equipment on-site. While toxic or flammable materials pose the biggest risk, even non-hazardous materials can be hazardous to the health of your employees, potentially causing slips and falls.

Spills can also damage expensive equipment, costing your business money while you wait for repairs or replacements. In extreme cases, spills can lead to fires or explosions that can damage your facility, taking your business and employees out of commission for weeks or even months.

Spill Containment Regulations – Passive versus Secondary Containment

The EPA has set many requirements pertaining to spill prevention and secondary containment  and complying with them can stop disaster in its tracks. The EPA is committed to keeping air, water, and soil free of hazardous materials, and there are many regulations in place regarding both primary and secondary containment procedures. But what’s the difference between primary and secondary containment?

To put it simply, primary containment is passive. It should house hazardous materials during your facility's normal operations. Emptying it is a routine procedure that your employees should be trained to do.

Secondary containment, on the other hand, can be passive or active passive or active. It is meant to contain spills if your primary containment receptacles fail. Emptying it requires emergency response training. Ideally, you'll never need to use secondary containment, but you must have it on the premises as a safeguard and to comply with EPA and OSHA regulations.

The EPA’s Federal Water Pollution Control Act requires certain facilities to have a Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) plan e. These are designed to "help facilities prevent a discharge of oil into navigable waters or adjoining shorelines." Your facility will need to have an SPCC plan if it is not transportation-related, has a storage capacity of 1,320 gallons (above-ground) or 42,000 gallons (buried), and could potentially discharge into U.S. waters. It's safer and more cost-effective to prevent spills than it is to clean them up, and there are many spill containment products to help keep your facility and employees protected.

Secondary Containment Options for Your Facility

Primary containment includes tanks, drums, and totes. Secondary containment includes passive options like spill pallets and platforms, dikes, and berms as well as active options like drain covers, pads, and booms. Your secondary containment system needs to be impermeable, free of gaps or cracks, and made of materials that are chemically compatible with the liquid that is housed in your primary containment. Since your secondary containment's design should allow drainage of spilled liquid, it's wise to build permanent containment receptacles on a slope or choose options that include drain plugs.

When choosing secondary containment receptacles, keep in mind that federal regulations require that your storage capacity be 100% of the largest container or 10% of the total volume of all the containers stored together (whichever is larger). Your system should also prevent the accumulation of stormwater.  If you choose an uncovered outdoor containment system, plan to factor in weather-related liquid accumulation when calculating how much capacity you need.

When hazardous substances are spilled in your facility, you risk fires, burns, injuries, sickness, and more. As an owner or manager, you have a responsibility to protect people, property, and the planet. Always store hazardous materials in covered areas on secure shelving at eye level or lower. Keep spill kits on-site near the areas where potential spills  occur so you’ll be able to clean the spill up as quickly as possible. Spill kits generally contain absorbent materials, such as socks and pads, as well as gloves and safety goggles. You should also keep spill pallets spill pallets on the premises. These ensure your containers won't become submerged in liquid due to the pallets' removable spill decks.

Learn More About Eagle’s Secondary Containment Solutions

Whether it's a hazardous substance, oil, or even something as benign as water, whenever a spill occurs at your facility, clean it up immediately. Prepare for spills with secondary containment. Eagle Manufacturing has been providing the most comprehensive and flexible spill containment flexible spill containment for nearly three decades, offering high-density polyethylene products that are made in the USA and meet EPA and SPCC requirements. From budget basins budget basins to outdoor drum storage outdoor drum storage and everything in-between, Eagle Manufacturing has all the spill containment products you need to protect your employees, your facility, and the environment.


EPA. Oil Spills Prevention and Preparedness Regulations

Safeopedia. What is the difference between primary and secondary spill containment?

EPA. Does the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Rule Apply to Your Facility?

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