Are Secondary Spill Containment Systems Sufficient?

By: Mistina Thomson

"Secondary spill containment is defined as trapping and collecting the hazardous material in a container that is above ground from which the material can be easily disposed of using SPCC sanctioned disposal methods.

According to the EPA regulations, “The containment system must have sufficient capacity to contain 10% of the volume of containers or the volume of the largest container, whichever is greater. The containers must also be elevated or otherwise protected from contact with accumulated liquid.” That means whatever container you use can’t be sitting on the bare ground or in low lying areas that tend to get filled with water after a downpour.

Even if you use secondary containment you must prevent the hazardous materials from getting into the rivers, lakes and streams or being absorbed by the ground and seeping into the water table since the ultimate goal of spill containment is to prevent the hazardous material from entering the water system where it can contaminate the environment and pollute drinking water.

No matter how good the containers you use to hold hazardous materials, leaks can and do occur. When that happens, you need an additional Spill Containmentsystem to prevent contamination of the local ecosystem and prevent your company from being ordered to pay large fines and possible monetary damages to local residents for loses directly tied to the containment spill. Even if you use spill guards and absorbents along with your secondary containment system, if your containers are outside, a heavy rainstorm can turn a small leak into a disaster. This can happen because as spill guards and absorbents become saturated or filled with water, the hazardous material will wash into the storm drains or the surrounding environment. This is a major cause of water pollution.

Obviously, secondary spill containment is not sufficient to prevent a leak or spill from reaching the waterways or seeping into the ground water table. So what can you do to prevent damages caused by undiscovered leaks that are exacerbated by rainfall? The answer is simple. Safe Drain makes SPCC compliant storm drain spill containment inserts that have valves to control the flow of liquid into the storm drain and filters to eliminate unwanted material from passing into the water supply while allowing the filtered water to pass. The company custom designs the storm drain insert to fit that specific storm drain so no additional construction should be needed and the system can usually be installed in 30 to 40 minutes.

Unlike using sand bags the filters are designed for specific purposes and can even filter out grease and oil. Additionally, filters are much easier to replace when they get too dirty to work properly anymore. When the stainless valve is closed, nothing can enter the storm drain which allows you to reclaim the spilled materials easily or in the case of construction runoff, allow all the sediment to settle before letting the water flow into the drain. One of the bonus features is that by collecting and holding chemicals and sediment, you can easily test what pollutants are involved and easily track down an unknown leak source.

For more information on how to get your safe drain spill containment insert system, go to

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Mistina Thomson is the author of this article on Spill Containment, Please visit safedrain to know more

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