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

Posts Tagged ‘dangerous goods containment’

Undeclared Dangerous Goods Causing Ship Fires

May 31st, 2019 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: Industry News

Dangerous goods are never as dangerous as when they are in transit. The shipping of dangerous goods is risky, but when the packagers and shippers do their due diligence and ensure that the packages meet the stringent requirements and regulations set forth by the pertinent governing bodies. One major threat facing shippers of dangerous goods is the threat of fires.

Ship fires have been a leading cause of losses in the shipping industry thus far this year.

Since January, there have been at least a dozen fires reported on vessels, including a deadly fire and series of explosions on a tanker off of Hong Kong. According to Allianz’s Safety and Shipping Review in 2018, fires caused a loss of 112 ships between 2008 and 2017. Without further action, that number will only continue to rise.

Mis-declared or undeclared flammable chemicals are believed to be a recurring cause for a lot of these fires and explosions. Andrew Kinsey at Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty has been eager to find a solution. According to Kinsey, the key is moving forward with a proactive mindset rather than being reactive as they have been. “We can’t continue to sift through the burnt wreckage and say, ‘That’s what was here.’” says Kinsey. “We have to start to identify it before it even comes through the gate at the terminal much less being stowed on the vessel.”

Kinsey and others are excited at the prospect of using technology to make the changes necessary to prevent ship fires and improve communication between carriers. The idea is that with stronger, more consistent IT standards and better communication between customers and shipping lines, they can prevent mis-declared or undeclared cargo, especially dangerous cargo.

In September, Maersk announced “risk-based dangerous goods stowage principles” to help prevent future issues. But many don’t believe additional regulations are the answer, the real answer is following the rules that are already in place. We strive to stay on top of all industry regulations and restrictions at Skolnik, so we’re inclined to agree. There’s no way to know if the rules currently in place are effective if they aren’t being followed effectively.

More than a Manufacturer

November 30th, 2018 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: Industry News

Superior drums start with superior people. Skolnik is more than a steel drum manufacturer, we’re an expert resource and industry guide. The Skolnik team is always available to answer questions and guide our partners to the best container and solution for their needs.

We’re industrial packaging manufacturers who hold our products and service to a higher standard. Our steel drums are built thicker, heavier and stronger than the industry standards, and our service extends far beyond the manufacturing process, because the industrial packaging industry extends far beyond the manufacturing process.

Our team of experts is constantly plugged-in to the transportation, storage and regulative landscape. We’re a resource for transportation information and insights and strategic storage solutions. We know the past and present of our industry and keep an eye on the future. We encourage questions and curiosity, and we’re always happy to help.

At Skolnik, we are committed to delivering steel drums that are not only strong, reliable and compliant, but that are the perfect container for our partners unique needs, materials, goals and challenges. So yes, we’re a storied steel drum manufacturer. But more than that, we’re a partner.

The History of Hazmat and Dangerous Goods Packaging

May 3rd, 2018 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: DOT/UN, HazMat

If you work in the packaging and transportation industries, there’s a good chance that you come across dangerous goods regularly. If you do, then you also come across the term ‘hazmat’. Now, it’s not hard to understand that the two are connected, but what are those connections exactly? What does hazmat have to do with dangerous goods packaging, and just who establishes the rules behind it all?

First, a quick definition. In the United States, the official term for dangerous goods is hazardous materials, which leads to the portmanteau hazmat. Pretty logical, but also easy to take for granted if it’s just another term in the day-to-day sea of acronyms and abbreviations.

Dangerous goods, and in turn hazmat, is a broad umbrella term that encompasses materials that are radioactive, flammable, explosive, corrosive, oxidizing, asphyxiating, biohazardous, toxic, pathogenic, or allergenic. Also included are physical conditions such as compressed gases and liquids or hot materials, and all goods containing such materials or chemicals, or that may have other characteristics that render them hazardous in specific circumstances.

Oversimplified: anything that can hurt a human.

 

Hazmat Regulation in The United States

With such an intimidating list of dangers under its purview, you would think that protection from dangerous goods has been a high priority for our government as long as possible. But, the DOT, EPA and OSHA, three of the most crucial agencies for regulating the safe handling of hazardous materials in the U.S. weren’t even formed until the late 1960s and 1970s.

Then, it was only in 2004 that the Department of Transportation created the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), which is the agency directly in charge of developing and enforcing regulations in relation to hazmat transportation. Previously, PHMSA’s hazmat and pipeline safety programs were housed within the Transportation Department’s Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA).

Hazmat Regulation Abroad

Regulators at the global level were a little faster to act. The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)’s publication of the first version of The UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods occurred in 1956. While it isn’t obligatory or legally binding on individual countries, this is the guiding document when it comes the establishing procedures regarding hazmat shipping. For example, all Skolnik barrels that bear a UN certification have been produced to the standards established by the most current version of these recommendations.   

The other crucial contribution to hazmat handling that the UN provides is the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, developed in 1992. This is the set of rules that standardized the labeling of hazmat across borders, and is why we use the color coded diamond-shaped pictograms to designate which hazards are in what package.

Further Hazmat Regulatory Bodies

Along with these major organizations, there are plenty of smaller, more specific groups that have their eyes set on specific topics, such as the International Air Transport Association, the International Maritime Organization and the Intergovernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail. These are just some of the groups who, as each name suggests, focus on their individual priorities and establish rules and regulations that are adopted, inspire and influence how we handle hazmat here in the states and abroad.


Whether you interact with dangerous goods daily or once in a blue moon, it’s important to not only be able to handle the immediate task of safely storing and transporting these goods, but to know where they fit in larger scheme. If you don’t know why you’re labeling a barrel as hazardous, then it’s easy to make a mistake, and there is little room for error when dealing with hazmat storage and transportation. Luckily, there are plenty of resources for any question you may have regarding hazmat and dangerous goods packaging. All of these organizations have multiple resources you can explore, and if it’s barrel-related, chances are we here at Skolnik can help out too.

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.