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How to Follow Secondary Containment Regulations Without Hurting Your Business

In the United States, hazardous materials are regulated by the EPA, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and Department of Transportation (DOT). Each organization has its own definition of hazardous materials.


OSHA defines a hazardous chemical as any chemical that is classified as a physical hazard or a health hazard, a simple asphyxiant, combustible dust, pyrophoric gas or hazard not otherwise classified. The EPA expands that definition to include any chemical that can cause harm to people, plants or animals when released by spilling, leaking, discharging or leaching (among other methods).

The EPA regulates chemical containment requirements under 40 CFR 264. Federal law says that a containment system “must have a sufficient capacity to contain 110% of the volume of the containers or the volume of the largest container, whichever is greater.” In other words, you need to be able to contain the volume of the tanks, plus an extra ten percent. Some states have stricter standards, which supersede the Federal regulations.

If you’re storing hazardous materials, your chemical tank must have some kind of containment barrier. If a leak occurs, the containment will prevent the chemical from coming into contact with the environment and your employees.

Usually, companies use a large concrete berm to contain spilled chemicals. It’s an effective solution, if your only concern is containment. But concrete berms are a poor business solution. Let's take a closer look at your options and see which secondary containment systems make the most sense.

Secondary Containment That Benefits Your Business

In most cases, the concrete berm collects dirt, rainwater, and other foreign matter. Any chemical that spills into the berm becomes contaminated and is wasted. Berms also require a lot of space because they must provide a capacity of 110-120 percent of the primary tank. Constructing a containment berm is an expensive operation, as well. It can be a costly way to run a business.

Poly Processing reduces all of those costs with our innovative double-wall “tank within a tank,” called the SAFE-Tank®. The SAFE-Tank is a double-wall storage system that has an interstitial space between two tank walls. If a leak occurs in the primary tank, all of the leaked chemical stays within the interstitial space—preserving your chemical while containing the spill in a small footprint.


Concrete Berms Make Poor Business Sense

The double-wall SAFE-Tank provides 110 percent secondary containment. If the inner tank is damaged, the outer tank equalizes the liquid level. The tank can continue to be used until the chemicals inside have been depleted. So tank repairs are no longer emergencies, saving you time and money.

You can also save space with the SAFE-Tank. Because our footprint is smaller, and chemicals are completely self contained, you can store acids and bases next to each other, without wasting the space that two separate concrete berms would require. This allows you to add new equipment and scale your business without expanding your facility. As assembly line configurations change to meet dynamic needs, you can move your chemical storage without the expense of additional chemical containment structures.

Check out this video for a closer look at how the SAFE-Tank® system works.

Double-Wall Piping

The SAFE-Tank can be double-wall piped from the tank to any location in your facility using the industry’s only true double-wall bellows transition fitting. This important fitting drains the primary tank through the containment tank while acting as a secondary containment around the fitting. You can mount a 6-inch flange to the outside of the transition fitting and run double-wall piping while keeping everything fully contained.

Reduce Your Business Losses

Ideal for chemicals that have dangerous exothermic reactions to rainwater, the SAFE-Tank System gives you the secondary containment that concrete berms can’t provide.

 Learn more about secondary containment in our comprehensive guide:Secondary Containment Guide

Topics: Tank Design and Materials, Chemical Storage