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

Archive for 2016

Bourbon Theft Ring Brings Skolnik Stainless Steel Barrels into the Spotlight

December 22nd, 2016 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: Cool Stuff, Stainless Steel

To a distiller, there is nothing more beautiful than a perfectly charred oak barrel. Except maybe a stainless steel barrel that can hold their precious bourbon for as long as is needed without tainting or affecting the flavor or age.

That’s right – American distillers use stainless steel barrels for their bourbon and other liquors, and according to Bourbon historian Michael Veach, the practice is hardly new.

To be a bourbon, whiskey has to be aged in oak. But after the aging is complete, it can be transferred to stainless steel barrels for storage. Stainless steel does not interact with the bourbon the way oak does, which means that distillers can store a final product in stainless steel without worrying that it will alter the flavor in any way.

This stainless secret came into the limelight last year when stainless steel barrels of bourbon were seized as evidence in an on-going bourbon theft ring. One of the stolen barrels was a 17-year Eagle Rare from Buffalo Trace. And just what container had Buffalo Trace entrusted to hold this expensive product? A 23-gallon, stainless steel barrel. Actually, a Skolnik Industries 23-gallon, stainless steel barrel, to be precise.

That’s right, distillers all around bourbon county are turning to Skolnik stainless steel barrels to store their precious product. And not just any bourbon, but expensive, highly sought after bourbon — that one 23-gallon barrel of 17-year Eagle Rare is worth between $11,000 and $12,000.

To learn more about the theft ring and the use of stainless steel barrels in the distillery business, read the USA Today piece about the heist. To learn more about how your distillery can benefit from stainless steel barrels, contact a Skolnik sales representative today.

Preventing DOT Fines for Non-Compliance

December 20th, 2016 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: DOT/UN, HazMat, Skolnik Newsletter

The US Department of Transportation, DOT, has increased its presence in the field and they will be showing up at companies that manufacture, package, transport, or use dangerous goods. In addition, DOT also visits companies with related products that are regulated. Having a plan in place to welcome the inspector into your facility can greatly affect the outcome of the visit. Knowing some inside information in preparation for this visit can help your company prepare for these inspections and appear knowledgeable and informed. As a guide to helping you be prepared, COSTHA (Conference on Safe Transportation of Hazardous Articles) offers What To Do When The DOT Hazardous Materials Inspector Calls as a handbook detailing how to be ready to receive the DOT. Written by Lawrence (Larry) Bierlein, Esg., the book is filled with pointers for consideration. Copies are available for $19.00 + shipping, from COSTHA at 703.451.4031 or at mail@costha.com. On-line copies are available free to COSTHA members.

In the case of steel drums, if purchasing a drum that meets the United Nations criteria for shipping hazardous materials, the proper closure of the drum is the final and most important part of the closure process. In fact, the US Code of Federal Regulations, Title 49, paragraph 178.2(c), requires that packaging manufacturers give current written instructions to the fillers and shippers about the proper closure procedure for their “manufacturer-specific” packaging. For example, all 55 gallon drums are not the same and Closure Instructions must be from the specific manufacturer.

It is important to note that Closure Instructions are not generic. While every SKOLNIK drum is shipped with written Closure Instructions, you can now view a video of the proper closure of the Closed Head with 2“ and ¾“ fittings, Open Head with a Bolt Ring, and the Open Head with a Quick Lever closure ring. In addition, written Closure Instructions are also available in Spanish. Check out all our Closure Instruction options here and call us if you need further clarification or would like to receive additional information for your record keeping.

Know your Linings

December 13th, 2016 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: Safety

Carbon steel and stainless steel each possess properties that make them perfect containers for specific materials without any modification. But, for some materials, especially in the pharmaceutical, chemical and food industries, a drum lining is necessary. Lining is often required as a safety precaution, to meet the strict regulations of government agencies, and/or because the contents or environment would be contaminated without it. Even as a precaution, lined steel is a necessary measure to preserve the integrity of the materials, container, facility, handlers and the environment.

The most common lining for a lined steel drum is a phenolic coating. Phenolic linings provide a chemical protection between contained materials, such as food, and the metal of the drum. The phenolic is mixed with an epoxy to give it extra flexibility – this prevents it from cracking if the drum undergoes any damage. Skolnik lined carbon steel also includes a rust inhibitor to remove surface oil prior to lining. The upper tolerance for Skolnik’s epoxy phenolic lining is about 550 degrees Fahrenheit, after which the coating could become brittle and compromised.

A rust inhibitor will prevent flash rust on our unlined/uncoated drums, but if a customer needs a long-term rust resistant drum or a drum that can safely contain chemical materials, an unlined drum will not suffice.

Skolnik lined steel drums are available in a variety of different shapes, sizes, materials and lining compositions. We recommend talking to one of our sales representatives if you have any questions about your container needs, lining needs or your materials compatibility with linings.

Smoke Damages Vineyards in California

December 13th, 2016 by Dean Ricker

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

Wines and Vines reports that this summer, as the Soberanes Fire raged in Monterey County, winemakers and growers in the Carmel Valley watched as heavy smoke descended on their vineyards. Many of those affected hoped that their still-developing grapes would dodge any smoke contamination, but now that most wineries in the region have pressed off their 2016 reds, it appears that several may have had to deal with extensive smoke problems. The fire was ignited July 22 from an illegal campfire and wasn’t declared fully contained until Oct. 28. The blaze burnt 132,127 acres, and the majority of that was in a rugged stretch of the Los Padres National Forest. The location of the fire was almost due west from the Carmel Valley, which is home to several wineries and vineyards. While the region’s topography and climate kept the smoke well north of the vineyards in southern Monterey County, including the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA, the smoke poured into the Carmel Valley. Matt Piagari, assistant winemaker for Joullian Vineyards & Winery in Carmel Valley, said the smoke appeared just as the winery’s estate vineyards reached véraison. “It was much like a thick fog you’d see in San Francisco,” Piagari recalled. Piagari said the winery sprayed the vines and clusters with a cream of tartar solution that did seem to be effective in getting the heaviest smoke deposits off the grapes. The excess moisture on the grapes can lead to other problems, but those are easy to deal with compared to smoke. “If you could find a way to rinse the leaves and grapes off earlier, before harvest, that might be something,” he said. The USDA’s crop insurance program does provide coverage for losses in production and quality from smoke and fire damage. Quality losses need to be confirmed with prices reductions or lab tests if unsellable.

Bill of Lading Claims Toughen Up

November 22nd, 2016 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: Industry News, Skolnik Newsletter

For years, claims for in-transit damage were easily filed based on the expectation that a Bill of Lading satisfied a carrier’s need to determine damage. Providing a B/L was all that was needed to demonstrate that goods were shipped as packaged, but then arrived damaged. However, as of August 13, 2016, the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) has introduced a new law in which shippers will now have to prove that the carrier was negligent. Proof will require more than a signed Bill of Lading and might include photographs, employee statements and tracking data. The shipper groups including the Transportation and Logistics Council, are disputing this change and claim changes to NMFTA’s uniform bill of lading would affect millions of shipments and place an unfair onus on smaller businesses that ship goods without motor carrier agreements, relying on the bill of lading as the contract. The shipper has the burden of proof to show a shipment was tendered in good condition, delivered in damaged condition, and then the burden shifts to the carrier, to prove it was not negligent. If the trucking company does prove it wasn’t negligent, citing exculpatory force majeure causes such as impassable highways or by offering evidence the shipper was responsible for the damage, then “the shipper then has the burden of proving the carrier was wrong,”
The dispute contains echoes of shipper-carrier regulatory battles of past decades, before the Surface Transportation Board terminated antitrust immunity for motor carrier rate bureaus in 2007 and the Interstate Commerce Commission was closed in 1996. The current dispute, however, may not find a ready arbitrator in Washington. Read the full story here.

What to Consider When Choosing Hazardous Waste Containers

November 17th, 2016 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: HazMat, Safety

When it comes to containers, it is important to know that the container you choose was designed and approved for your intended use. This is especially important when it comes to hazardous materials or waste containers.

Just as there is a wide range of hazardous materials: explosives, gasses, flammables, peroxides, infectious, radioactive, corrosive; there are a wide range of hazardous waste containers. Knowing your materials and their characteristics is an important component of hazmat safety.

First, a shipper must determine whether or not the contents to be shipped is hazardous or non-hazardous. To make this initial determination, as hipper can consult with the US DOT or a dangerous goods consultant. If it is determined that the contents are a regulated hazardous material, then the next step is to consider packaging options that will be compliant with Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations. The regulations specific to steel drums are in chapter 178.601.

Consider asking a dangerous goods consultant to determine the level of risk associated with your materials. Are they flammable? Do they produce toxic fumes? Is it an oxidizer? How does it react to water? Does it pose a threat to the environment? All of these characteristics could impact what linings, closures, fittings and materials you should consider when choosing a container. They also impact how your containers should be stored. For example, in the case of a spill or leak, oxidizers should be kept separate from any flammable or combustible chemicals. In the case of a fire, you’ll want to know how your materials react to water or other fire suppressors. Once you’ve found the appropriate container, keep your materials in their designated containers at all times, and always have a plan for a possible leak or emergency situations.

One of the most common uses of Skolnik steel drums is in their use in managing the safe transportation and disposal of hazardous waste materials. Every Skolnik steel drum was engineered for specific uses and jobs. We are happy to help guide you to the appropriate packaging for your hazardous materials or waste, and can even suggest resources which help you better understand and comply with the hazards of your materials.