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

Posts Tagged ‘hazmat’

The Various Devices of Secondary Containment

May 17th, 2018 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: Industry News

A key component of properly storing and transporting hazardous liquids is to have secondary containment plans in case a spill happens. There are plenty of EPA regulations on secondary spill containment, and central to these rules is having the appropriate gear to keep you and your workers safe when the inevitable spill happens.

Here are a few broad categories of tools and containment devices that you can use in your efforts to prevent the problem before it can happen:

 

Containers

The most obvious solution to a potential spill from your primary container is to have a second container to catch what comes out. Depending on your needs, secondary containers can come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and material, usually metal or plastic. We here at Skolnik have a diverse line of secondary spill containers that are made of either stainless or carbon steel, depending on their compatibility with the materials you’re handling. They meet all applicable UN and DOT regulations, and are specifically labeled with multilingual logos for appropriate international transportation of leaking containers.

Elevated Pallets

As the name suggests, these pallets raise your primary container up off the ground with a tray that has grating on top. This creates a stable platform for your container that can catch spills inside the pallet for proper disposal on a later date. These are useful as temporary solutions and for easily recovering and reusing anything spilled.

Berms

A berm, or raised strip of material, creates a barrier on the floor surrounding the primary container, thus keeping anything spilled corralled into a manageable area for clean-up. These perimeter can be permanently incorporated into the construction of a factory, or temporarily deployed at the loading/unloading site when transporting materials.

Dikes

The opposite of a berm, dikes generate a perimeter by creating channels in the floor that will catch the spill. A common usage of these moats is on construction sites, where they are dug straight out of the ground for a fast and temporary solution for containment.

Slopes

Perhaps the least technologically advanced option, a simple sloped floor may turn out to be the most effective method of secondary containment. The main priority of all of these devices is to pull spills out and away from the primary container for easy, safe clean-up; something a sloped floor can achieve with ease. Usually, sloped floors are incorporated into a larger secondary spill containment system to increase the effectiveness of the other spill containment devices. In fact, depending on what else you’re using, it may be required by law to use them.

Drains and Sumps

Another device regularly added into a system to increase its safety and efficacy is either a drain or a sump. A drain is appropriate if it’s safe to dispose of the liquids you’re handling in your local sewage system. If it would be unsafe to drain the liquid, then you ought to explore sumps, which function similarly to a drain, except the liquids collect in a below ground reservoir instead.

 

Which spill containment device or strategy you use greatly depends on the properties of the material being stored/transported. Containing and addressing a dangerous material obviously comes with different considerations and regulations than a non-dangerous good. In addition to these devices, it’s also crucial to have a plan and the proper tools to control a spill after it happens, which means the appropriate absorbent materials, safety gear and training. Goggles, gloves, absorbent cloth, and first aid are just as important as secondary spill containers when it comes to keeping your workers safe.

 

Spills are an inevitable part of handling liquids at the industrial scale, but if you’re prepared for them, you’ll have the best chance at keeping accidents small. If you have any questions about secondary spill containment, the regulations surrounding it, or what system is the most appropriate for you, contact us here at Skolnik and we’d be happy to help!

 

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.

The Dangers of Re-Selling 55-Gallon Drums and Other Industrial Containers

February 8th, 2018 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: Industry News, Safety

The 55 gallon steel drum is one of the best-traveled, most-recognized and most-used industrial containers in the world — they are ubiquitous. So, it should come as no surprise that you can get one virtually anywhere. And, in the age of e-tail and on-demand-delivery, it should come as no surprise that people are deal-hunting and ordering industrial drums online. Cutting corners around the OEM and ordering second-hand drums from EBay and Craigslist is incredibly risky and dangerous.

Many of our drums are used to hold chemicals or other flammable materials. If it isn’t properly recycled or reconditioned, but instead just rinsed and allowed to sit, sealed and forgotten for a time being, the fumes and pressure inside can build to an explosion.

Right now, hundreds if not thousands of used and potentially dangerous containers are being sold online.

An article by the Journal Sentinel reported that, “an examination of accidents involving exploding drums and fires found that many occurred in backyards and garages across the country, where buyers weren’t aware of the danger lurking inside.”

And yet, these drums are sold and re-sold on Craigslist or E-Bay with little to no oversight. Some are even being off-loaded without any labels indicating their previous contents may have been dangerous.

No matter how well a used drum has been rinsed and scrubbed, if it was not properly sanitized and reconditioned by an expert manufacturer, it is dangerous. After all, it is not the liquid that was being contained that is dangerous, but the vapors left behind. According to the Sentinel, “As little as two tablespoons of a flammable chemical can create enough fumes in a 55-gallon barrel to explode when ignited by a single spark.”

The Reusable Industrial Packaging Association (RIPA), which represents drum reconditioning companies, is aghast that these containers are being sold without proper oversight and procedure. As leading experts in the business, RIPA is urging consumers and businesses to trust their fellow experts and stick to purchasing industrial containers from OEMs like Skolnik Industries where most reconditioned drums are certified by the UN.

Many of these drums lurking on online shops are being billed as safe, but without proper oversight and regulation there is no way of knowing for sure. It isn’t a risk anyone should be willing to take.

Just because you see 55 gallon drums everywhere doesn’t mean you should buy them anywhere.

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.