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Hazardous Waste Containment

July 25th, 2014 by Lisa Stojanovich

Filed under: HazMat, Industry News

Many industries will generate hazardous wastes, and knowing how to handle these materials in a safe and prepared manner helps prevent unnecessary incidents.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Handbook for Hazardous Waste Containers, generators of hazardous waste can store the substances on-site for no more than 90 days if it is in an approved container.  These hazardous waste containers must be portable; surface impoundments and waste piles are not approved methods for storing hazardous waste on-site.  The waste must also be stored according to the regulatory requirements as outlined in the 49 CFR 265, Subpart I.  Hazardous waste needs to be handled carefully and by trained individuals familiar with the properties of the waste.

The first step in determining a proper hazardous waste container is identifying and understanding the waste generated on site- is it hazardous?  This waste characterization can be performed by sampling and analyzing the generated waste or with knowledge of the process that generated the waste.  If the waste is highly toxic handlers may need protective goggles, gloves, or suits.  If the waste is corrosive it may corrode certain types of containers, knowing this helps prevent extra damage.  Will the waste react if placed in a container with other materials?   After identifying the waste as hazardous it is important to choose the proper container in order to secure a safe workplace.


After you understand the hazardous waste generated on site you can begin considering containment options.  Identify and segregate wastes that may be reactive and needs stored in separate containers.  Wastes may react not only with each other but the container itself; highly corrosive materials may cause damage to a un-lined steel drum.  Prevent drum failure by using a plastic container or a steel drum with a plastic lining.  Consult a corrosion resistance guide to determine if the container and waste are compatible. Once you’ve determined which type of containers to use for the generated waste consider “assigning” them.  Reusing a drum for the same type of materials can reduce the need for cleaning.  In turn this reduces the contaminated run-off created from cleaning out the drum; water that has been used to clean hazardous materials must also be contained and stored safely to avoid further contamination.

When hazardous waste is generated it is important that it be handled carefully and quickly in order to prevent accidents or damage.  By identifying the properties and reactions of hazardous waste you can begin the safe and proper containment on site.  Drums, like Skolnik’s Salvage Drums or 55 gallon steel drums with the proper lining are often handy to keep around areas where hazardous wastes when be generated.  Being prepared ahead of time is a smart way to handle waste.  If you are concerned about hazardous waste containment, consulting the 49 CFR or another trusted and knowledgeable consultant can offer answers to many of your questions

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