As with other potentially hazardous or dangerous materials, there are requirements and secondary containment requirements for chemicals. Secondary containment systems provide an additional and essential line of defense in the event of any failure or damage to the primary containment vessel.
In 1976 The Resource Conservation Recovery Act (RCRA) was passed to give the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) authority to control the generation, treatment, storage, transportation, and disposal of hazardous wastes. The EPA enforces requirements for chemicals and toxic wastes that include reviewing records, inspecting facilities and requiring secondary containment.
According to federal codes, for a secondary containment system to be compliant it must have sufficient capacity to contain at least 10% of the volume of the primary containment or containers. Most local jurisdictions follow either the Uniform Fire Code or International Fire Code when corrosive, flammable and combustible materials are being handled or contained in a facility. These regulations typically require secondary containment and a sprinkler and/or other firefighting precaution as well. However, some states have stricter secondary containment requirements for chemicals so you should always contact your authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) to ensure you are following the proper procedures in your area. If you are transporting the chemicals, you may be beholden to the requirements of all jurisdictions the materials are being transported through.
At Skolnik, we always recommend secondary containment as a best practice for potentially hazardous materials, whether required by the AHJ or not. Proper precautions and preparation can make the difference between a small inconvenience and a large, dangerous incident. It is crucial to have the plans and materials in place should a spill occur.