How to Prevent Expensive Disposal Cost or Emergency Response in the event of a Natural Disaster



Avoid Stockpiling

Sometimes companies try to save money by purchasing materials in large quantities.  Unfortunately this can backfire.  In our business we see many products being disposed of because they are outdated, unused, and/or no longer needed.

Sure, it can be tempting to save money by purchasing in large quantities, but, companies can avoid expensive and unnecessary disposal cost by not stockpiling surplus materials.  The EPA terms these types of smart purchases as “waste minimization.” Waste minimization begins with determining exactly what you need, how long you will need it, and what the end result will be when you no longer have a use for the purchased material.

Labeling and Storage

When stockpiled chemicals become unwanted or out dated, the materials may become a hazardous waste and as such, would be subject to management requirements under the EPA regulations.  EPA regulations require you, as the owner/generator of the chemicals, to ensure the containers holding the chemicals are properly labeled, stored, and managed to prevent deterioration, damage, or rupture.  The full text of these requirements can be found by typing 40 CFR 262 using your favorite search engine.

Furthermore, you should store materials in compatible containers per 49 CFR 178.3, Marking of packagings.  All hazardous materials must be placed in containers suitable for their hazard.  When you purchase your containers check the drum you are purchasing to make sure it is compatible for the material you are placing in it.  For example, you would not place corrosive materials in a metal container because at some point that metal container is going to deteriorate due to the corrosive nature of the material it contains.  Not all drums are created equal and if you don’t understand the unique coding to determine if you have the right container please call us, we can help.

So, why is it so important to follow the storage requirements?  Imagine you’re the emergency responder and you’ve been called to a facility you may not be all that familiar with.  In a natural disaster you may be faced with tipped containers, leaking containers, or worse – a container that hasn’t been properly labeled or the material wasn’t compatible with the material it “previously” held.  That’s right, I said previously.  When containers leak because they were not the right ones to begin with, that material is can transfer to the water, ground, air, etc.

In the event of a natural disaster first responders can accurately assess the impact of any hazardous materials spill by checking properly labeled containers or viewing accurate storage records. It is also a good idea to check with your local Fire Department to see what they require or if they have any requirements for businesses that generate hazardous waste.  It may vary from city to city but usually there is a program in place that will help the Fire Department become familiar with what you have stored on your site in case of an emergency.

Preparation and Education

Even with the best purchasing and storage processes in place, companies should have an emergency plan, regardless of the likelihood of a hazardous materials spill.  These plans should be unique to the individual company and location.  Employees should be properly trained on the emergency plan and a designated person should be responsible for ensuring the plan is kept current.

Proper training is important and all employees must be trained in the handling of any hazardous materials they come into contact with during the course of their work.

Natural disasters will happen and while we as a society are getting better at predicting them and assessing their potential damage, it is extremely important to put into place safe operating practices that will help minimize the damage in the event of a hazardous materials spill.

If you have any questions or concerns about storing hazardous materials or having a proper emergency plan in place in the event of a spill we at H2O Environmental are always ready to help.  Contact us today at 800-H2O-SPILL or fill out our contact form.