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Posts Tagged ‘skolnik overpack’

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.

Overpack Container Regulations At-A-Glance

January 5th, 2017 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: DOT/UN, HazMat, Salvage Drum

An overpack drum is a type of protective packaging manufactured to contain non-hazardous or hazardous materials or provide outer protection for another container to prevent or mitigate damage. At its most basic definition, an overpack is simply a large container in which another smaller container can be placed. Overpacks can be made out of any material — such as Skolnik’s steel overpack drums. The Department of Transportation (DOT) regulates the movement of all hazardous materials and have specific performance standards that overpack containers must meet.

Not to be confused with Salvage Drums or Salvage Overpack Drums, Overpacks are designed to protect non-leaking containers or to be used as a combination pack.

Because they are designed to provide additional protection, they are built stronger and must meet more stringent requirements than other containers.

So what are a few of those regulations?

  • Overpack containers must always have a UN marking on them that specifies the type of hazardous materials it is certified to contain.
  • An overpack will never have a liquids rating because it is designed to hold another container — a solid. Regardless of what the inner package contains, the overpack technically contains a solid.
  • The container inside an overpack must be intact — if the container is damaged, defective or leaking you must use a salvage drum.

Salvage drums, on the other hand, are certified to hold damaged, leaking or non-compliant containers and are held to even stricter regulations than overpack drums.

These are just a high level overview of the DOT’s overpack regulations. Remember that preparing hazardous materials for shipment can be complicated, and safety and compliance are key. Reserve the task of packing your hazardous materials for someone who has the appropriate DOT hazmat shipping training.

Skolnik Industries TIH (PIH) Overpack Drums range from a 20 gallon overpack to an 85 gallon overpack drum and are certified according to UN criteria and qualify as secure outer packaging. If you have any questions about using an overpack or salvage drum, don’t hesitate to ask your Skolnik representative.