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Drum It Up! Steel Drum Industry News, Trends, and Issues

Archive for January, 2018

PHSMA Warns about Refilling Propane Cylinder

January 29th, 2018 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: DOT/UN, HazMat, Industry News, Safety, Skolnik Newsletter

It has been an extreme winter and PHMSA has recently campaigned for awareness about not refilling certain propane cylinders. To highlight the safety concern,
PHMSA has created a New YouTube Safety Video and Poster cautioning against refilling DOT 39 Cylinders. With safety as its primary mission, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) produced the following promotional items:

Both promotional pieces target and cautions the public to never refill DOT 39 cylinders, such as the 1lb. cylinders used for camping. While many types of propane cylinders are designed to be refilled, a DOT 39 cylinder of any size is strictly non-refillable. Hazardous materials incidents involving refilled DOT 39 cylinders have been reported and include one fatality. If you have any questions about refilling any cylinder, please contact a qualified refiller, or PHMSA’s HAZMAT Info Center at 1-800-467-4922, https://www.phmsa.dot.gov, or e-mail: infocntr@dot.gov.

—Howard Skolnik

Steel and plastic drums are conventionally sold as new and/or reconditioned from recognized drum manufacturers and distributors. Used primarily to transport dangerous goods (hazmats), it is imperative that if a drum is going to be reused, the contents of the drum must be professionally cleaned according to regulatory and industry standards.

Most recently, Craiglist and Ebay were cited for knowingly selling used drums that have not complied with the reuse regulations. The result is that both sites have created an outlet for drums that could cause fatal injuries and potential explosions. Hundreds, if not thousands, of used and potentially dangerous industrial barrels are listed for sale on Craigslist and other sites where they are advertised as good for everything from rain barrels and trash cans to catfish traps and “smoker” backyard grills. Often, the containers come with a dangerous twisted and torn-off labels making it impossible to identify the previous contents. In most cases, these drums once held toxic chemicals and hazardous, flammable commercial products. The sellers of these drums have no real knowledge of how the drums were previously used and are offering drums that could have contained poisons!

Investigated recently by Rick Barrett of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, this dangerous practice is being brought into the public eye with the hope that this illegal practice will cease. Industry officials say they would prefer that used barrels be properly refurbished and reused, or be scrapped, rather than be sold to consumers through unregulated web sales.

Using Lasers to Examine Overpack Drums

January 26th, 2018 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: Cool Stuff, HazMat

Overpack drums are used to contain a wide variety of hazards, from harsh chemicals to combustible materials. One of the more dramatic uses of these drums is to store spent nuclear fuel.

The fuel rods are confined in a welded stainless steel canister that is shielded and protected by a concrete and steel overpack drum, then placed into storage. While this may be the best solution we have right now for our nuclear waste, this process requires regular maintenance and examination to ensure safety. These storage casks need to be frequently inspected for degradation such as stress corrosion cracking. Unsurprisingly, inspecting hundreds of tightly packed irradiated barrels is not the safest task for a human to undertake.

That’s where the lasers come in.

By utilizing laser ultrasonics, a fancy method of shooting pulse lasers at an object, researchers have combined that process with fiber optics and a very specially-developed lens, integrating it into a robot system. That way, their compact set up can provide a clear, nondestructive inspection of the degradation happening to each barrel, specifically pitting. What that all means is that inspectors will have tools that can operate in the harsh, confined and hazardous spaces that are generated situations such as nuclear waste storage, piloting the robot from a safe distance.

This technology can be applied further than merely overpack drums. It’s suited for any environment that is cramped, high temperature, highly irradiated; anywhere that’s unsafe for humans. In particular, the system is great for inspecting defects in pipelines exposed to high temperatures and radiation inside nuclear power plants and inspection of inaccessible, cramped and hazardous areas for preventive maintenance.

Lasers and nuclear waste? Sounds like a dystopian sci-fi plot, but it is very much a current scenario. At this point, research is still ongoing to perfect the system, and it’s unclear how close they are to becoming commercially available tools. As long as we continue to store waste in the current, overpack method, the importance of technology to reduce the risk of hazard will only become more critical as time goes on.

Ebay and Craigslist Selling Illegal Drums!

January 22nd, 2018 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: HazMat, Industry News, Safety, Skolnik Newsletter

Steel and plastic drums are conventionally sold as new and/or reconditioned from recognized drum manufacturers and distributors. Used primarily to transport dangerous goods (hazmats), it is imperative that if a drum is going to be reused, the contents of the drum must be professionally cleaned according to regulatory and industry standards.

Most recently, Craiglist and Ebay were cited for knowingly selling used drums that have not complied with the reuse regulations. The result is that both sites have created an outlet for drums that could cause fatal injuries and potential explosions. Hundreds, if not thousands, of used and potentially dangerous industrial barrels are listed for sale on Craigslist and other sites where they are advertised as good for everything from rain barrels and trash cans to catfish traps and “smoker” backyard grills. Often, the containers come with a dangerous twisted and torn-off labels making it impossible to identify the previous contents. In most cases, these drums once held toxic chemicals and hazardous, flammable commercial products. The sellers of these drums have no real knowledge of how the drums were previously used and are offering drums that could have contained poisons!

Investigated recently by Rick Barrett of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, this dangerous practice is being brought into the public eye with the hope that this illegal practice will cease. Industry officials say they would prefer that used barrels be properly refurbished and reused, or be scrapped, rather than be sold to consumers through unregulated web sales.

Bringing Cooperage In-House

January 16th, 2018 by Dean Ricker

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

In the latest edition of Wines and Vines, we learn that a Napa Valley winery is making their own oak barrels. Caldwell Vineyard winery is located in a cave dug in the mountains of the Coombsville AVA in southern Napa County. John Caldwell founded the winery in 1999, after selling grapes to other Napa wineries from his namesake vineyard for more than a decade. When Caldwell purchased his Napa Valley property in 1974, he had envisioned a real estate development, but Napa County’s agricultural preservation ordinance nixed those plans, and he opted to plant vines instead. A trip to France—and a visit to Chateau Haut-Brion, in particular—inspired a passion for winemaking, and Caldwell has done much to emulate the venerable Bordeaux winery. Haut-Brion has its own small cooperage, and that is something Caldwell wanted to bring to Napa as well, but it took years and only came together after he was able to find someone from the United States who could make barrels in France. Everything came together in 2014, when Herrera was able to build the first 50 Caldwell barrels in time for that year’s harvest. Since then, the barrel program has steadily increased, and the barrels are now used for nearly all of the winery’s production. Petiteaux purchases the stave wood in France and focuses on finding oak with both tight grain and exceptional grain structure. Marke said they want staves with at least 30 months of air drying. While they have enjoyed good results with wood from the Jupilles forest, grain tightness and structure is more important than forest of origin, Marke said. Petiteaux was able to purchase a log during a recent auction, and that stave wood is currently seasoning. Marke expects to receive those barrels for the 2019 vintage, at the latest. Each year, Herrera flies to France and spends several weeks at a leased cooperage space in Cognac assembling and toasting the Caldwell barrels from wood purchased three years prior. Herrera also toasts and assembles puncheons for the winery. “The big win for us is we have one guy who does all the toasting,” Marke said. That same guy is also at the winery the rest of the year to handle any issues with the barrels he put together himself. ”After he makes the barrels, he’s here,” Marke said. “He’s the one that is popping off the heads before putting in the grapes, so he’s here for the whole thing. Any issues, any leaks, he’s the guy and he’s here on-site.” It also means Marke is assured he’s going to get exactly what he specifies when he wants some barrels toasted a certain length of time or assembled in a certain way. The lines of communication are much more direct. Transitioning to essentially a single cooperage has required Marke to reevaluate the barrel program once more. “My role is to basically try and get it to replicate the success we had with multiple coopers,” he said. “It’s quite an interesting project. I’m learning more about barrels—even more than I had.” The trials are ongoing, as Marke constantly evaluates what toasts and techniques, such as water-bending staves, he needs to add to the barrel lineup to get the right mix of oak influences that match the Caldwell wines. The toasting is done over a traditional flame, and it’s up to Marke to determine what type of toasts and techniques are used. He’s working with all the Bordeaux varieties plus Tannat, Syrah and Pinot Noir. He buys barrels from a few coopers as reference points so he can decide how to adjust the Caldwell line of barrels. White wine barrels are still a work in progress. Total yearly barrel production is now around 300, and Marke admits it’s not the most cost-effective program. He doesn’t know exactly how much each barrel costs but was willing to bet it was significantly more than just buying a new, French oak barrel from a cooper. Marke said it is worth it to Caldwell to maintain the investment. “John is a guy who, when he’s committed, he’s all in,” Marke says before adding, “I’m the guy who keeps trying to hold him back.” Since the transition to estate cooperage, Marke said he’s noticed two significant changes: The barrels have become quite consistent and are also much more structurally sound. Back when Marke was using several coopers, about 10% of the barrels he used for barrel fermentation would prove to be leakers. “That was the bet John was making: If one person is doing all the toasting, it’s all more consistent, and structurally the barrels are much better.” A reminder that Skolnik will be showing our complete line of stainless steel wine barrels at the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium in Sacramento January 24 and 25, 2018. Visit us at booth number 1205.