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Posts Tagged ‘hazmat drums’

Who is Liable? Hazardous Material Drums and Storage

August 9th, 2018 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: HazMat

You can never be too careful when dealing with hazardous waste, especially when discarding it. Businesses whose work produces hazardous waste as a byproduct must store it properly onsite in hazardous waste drums or other certified containers until it can be removed by hazmat professionals. While the waste is onsite at their business it’s their responsibility, and any mishaps would be blamed on them. However, once the waste is finally taken away to a storage site, these businesses remain in a tenuous situation. Despite the fact that the waste is no longer on their property or within their care, these business owners can still be held liable if something happens at the storage site.

As stipulated in the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) there are four reasons a business can get in trouble for their hazardous waste:

  1. Hazardous wastes are present at a facility
  2. There is a release, or possibility of a release of these hazardous substances
  3. Response costs have been or will be incurred
  4. The defendant is a liable party

In addition, there are four classes of liable parties:

  1. Current owners and operators of a facility
  2. Past owners and operators of a facility at the time hazardous waste had been disposed
  3. Generators and parties that arranged for the disposal or transport of the hazardous substances
  4.  Transporters of hazardous waste that selected the site where the hazardous substances were brought.

Based on these regulations, businesses who hire others to dispose of their hazardous waste can still be found liable for regulations broken by a completely separate party.

Our advice is to do extensive research about prospective hazmat partners. Look into storage quality, trustworthiness of disposal company, and longevity of both. Find hazardous waste drums that are reliable and durable and a partner company who knows their stuff, so you can feel confident that your materials are being stored properly and you won’t get hit with penalties later.

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.

PHMSA Releases 23 Million in Grants for Hazardous Waste Transportation Training

October 18th, 2017 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: HazMat

Earlier this month, the Department of Transportation’s Pipline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHSMA) announced that they are issuing a series of hazardous materials training grants, totaling $23,870,045. The three separate grants are part of PHSMA’s larger initiative to improve the transportation of these dangerous materials.

The largest of the three, totaling to roughly 20 million, will be disbursed via Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness (HMEP) grants across all 50 states, as well as U.S. territories and Native American tribes, enhancing the abilities of emergency response personnel to protect themselves and the public when responding to hazardous material transportation related incidents.

An additional 2.4 million will be put into Assistance for Local Emergency Response Training (ALERT) grants. These will provide support to non-profit organizations such as the Center for Rural Development and the International Association of Fire Chiefs. The funds will be used to train volunteers and remote emergency responders to safely respond to rail accidents involving crude oil and ethanol products.

The last 1 million will be issued to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance as part of its Community Safety Training grant program. This will allow community organizations to help train local and state personnel responsible for enforcing safe hazardous material transportation.

Hazardous materials have the ability to make an already dangerous situation that much more lethal. With these grants, responders across a broad spectrum of organizations will better be able to respond to the challenges, stay safe and in turn keep those around them safe.

For the full report from PHMSA, including a chart breaking down the allocation of the HMEP grants by state, click here.

Hazardous Waste Containment: An Icon of Modern Video Games

December 30th, 2014 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: HazMat

Some might find the bounty of hazardous waste containers in daily life a little surprising or even concerning. But, the fact of the matter is there are many industries that generate hazardous wastes and seeing HazMat drums here and there is commonplace. There are few better ways to illustrate the proliferation of HazMat barrels than in the media. TV shows, films and video games contain a preponderance of hazardous drums and viewers are so used to seeing them, we don’t think twice.

The use of barrels in video games is especially interesting. Whether they are being thrown at you by a giant ape or are merely in the background, barrels and drums can be spotted in almost every video game and gamers know exactly what to do with them. Obviously, if they are being hurled at you by Donkey Kong, you jump, but in other games they are usually used for one of three things: storage or discovery of items, cover from enemy fire, and/or as a weapon. HazMat drums are used for the latter.

While we don’t recommend or condone purposefully exploding a barrel of toxic waste in real life, it is a real handy trick in video games – and second-nature to all regular gamers. In the tutorial portion of a relatively new XBox game, Sunset Overdrive, a booming voice coaches new players on controls and tips for the game. When he points out the brightly painted HazMat drums littering the game’s world the player character interrupts with “Yeah, yeah, I know what to do,” and shoots a drum, causing an explosion. Accuracy aside, it’s a delightful entertaining and meta moment, and also a testament to the iconography of HazMat containers in media and their prevalence in day to day life.

All of that said, not all hazardous materials are combustible and not all HazMat containers will explode if hit with gunfire, but we still don’t recommend testing that every time you come across a drum.