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Archive for the ‘HazMat’ Category

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.

Who Certifies the UN Certified Packaging?

December 19th, 2017 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: DOT/UN, HazMat

Here at Skolnik, every material, design, and production process is carefully engineered to meet the safety standards set forth by the various regulatory bodies that keep a watchful eye on our industry. One such organization is the UN’s Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods, the group in charge of the UN Certified Packaging label seen on many of our barrels. While we have written articles translating label components and even unpacking  specific elements, we have not yet examined who dictates these stringent standards.

The UN’s Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods is a subsidiary the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Established in 1946, the ECOSOC is one of the six principal organs of the UN, along with such bodies as the General Assembly and Security Council. The ECOSOC has under it number of commissions which it coordinates, such as the Commission on Human Rights and the Commission on the Status of Women. One of the region-focused agencies is the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ECE). The ECE actually works with many countries not only in Europe, but across North America and Asia as well. It is within this commission that you’ll find the Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods and on the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals, aka the people in charge of the certified packaging label.

Quite a circuitous path through bureaucracy, but the committee is important for transportation regulations. In fact, the other major document they’re in charge of, the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS), is an important building block for UN Certified Packaging. The GHS is the UN’s document that puts forth a set of consistent classifications and labelings for chemicals that is used internationally so that countries working with one another can communicate efficiently and accurately across geographic and lingual borders.

In turn, this common chemical language comes in handy when it comes to classifying and categorizing the packaging in which they can be stored. So, while there is plenty that the committee does, it all is in the service of ensuring the safe transportation of potentially dangerous products.

Despite the relative obscurity of the organisation behind UN Certified Packaging, they play a very important role in the everyday operation of many different industries. We here at Skolnik certainly are grateful for the time, energy, and expertise they’ve put into giving our customers the peace of mind with the label we put on our products. Thanks UN!