Even though the 21st century has brought along huge advancements in chemical contamination awareness and subsequent regulation, you will be surprised to know how many companies are still letting things go down the drain. A leak here and there, a few drops of oil washed into the gutter can’t have that much of an affect, right?
WRONG! According to Kim Ward, Zero Waste Outreach Specialist (British Columbia Used Oil Management Association), just a single drop of oil can contaminate 1 million drops of clean water. This means that with the global demand for crude oil approaching 100 million barrels per day (Statista, 2017) the risk of contaminating of the earths water supply is more than a reality, it is a potentially cataclysmic event.
Now I know that being an environmentally conscious individual, you certainly aren’t part of these statistics and nor is the corporation that you are employed by but that’s exactly why I assume that you are prepared for the smaller events that are seemingly inevitable. Or are you?
At Industrial Fluid Solutions (IFS) we believe that every facility that deals with or handles fuel, chemicals or lubricants should be prepared and equipped with basic spill kits and decontamination procedures.
The South African National Standards (SANS) 1186 stipulates “all transporters, manufacturers, suppliers and industries working with a Hazmat Product is to ensure that every proactive measure is taken to ensure firstly the prevention, active management and in the event of a spillage, the re-active and proper management of spillages. “
Obviously, these regulations exist for a reason and one way to pro-actively raise awareness around the plant is to install safety and preventative signs, which I’m sure you already do but another, perhaps less obvious way to improve the focus on environmental awareness and worker safety is to install spill kits in strategic positions. Yes, a visible spill kit actually serves as a visual reminder that things can go awry and it is for this reason that the answer to the question “why do I need a spill kit?” becomes more and more obvious.
Industrial spills are avoidable! With proper measures in place any contamination can be prevented but according to an article by Karen D. Hamel of ESH Today, if it does happen, this is what you need to do:
- Assess all possible risks – All aspects of the spill which may pose a threat to human health, the environment and property should be assessed throughout the response to identify all possible risks.
- Appropriate PPE – The correct Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be chosen for the situation. These PPE items used should be in accordance to the respective rules and regulation.
- Confining the spill – The aim in mind here is to block, divert or confine the spill as QUICKLY as possible to stop any further contamination, especially water contamination. This is arguably where a simple spill kit is most effective, giving a quick and effective response.
- Stop the source – One of the first priorities should be to confine the spill, but straight after, implementation to stop the source of the spill should commence. For simple spills, this may just involve turning a drum upright, but at times can also involve plugging or patching a leak.
- Spill clean-up – Once the spill has been contained and the source stopped, it’s now time for clean-up of the remainder of the spill, which includes any decontamination if need be. This is then to be followed with the proper disposal of all adsorbents which are saturated in oils, solvents etc.
What exactly are the stats?
Yes, a lot of pollution in this regard is created by big spills from large tankers who fall victim to accidents, mechanical failure, or even fluid theft, but believe it or not, a high majority is actually as a result of handling issues, accidents, and inevitable circumstances on a smaller scale or site-specific environment.
On the surface it would seem like for the most part the big guys like mine sites, workshops and industrial installations do their utmost to prevent spills and chemical contamination. But despite having preventative measures in place and subscribing the best practice protocols, they are the guys handling the most volumes of hydrocarbon contaminants. Offshore drilling obviously also come under the spotlight, but this industry seems to be well governed and face huge fines if they disregard the international guidelines, so that leave guys like you and I. Unfortunately, that’s the stats, the medium enterprise and second tier consumer is the weakest link in the chain where most of the unaccounted-for disregard for our natural resources take place.
Seeing as how little oil is needed to contaminate vast volumes of water, the first port off call should naturally be the oceans and waterways when it comes to cleaning up the oily waste us humans spread.
Floating contaminant booms and oil skimmers can take care of this type of situation. Often deployed on a huge scale when ocean spills occur, this solution is seen as the most efficient floating pollution-control measures for open water. When it comes to basic decontamination of industrial water, an oil separator will do the trick and is often deployed as part of a staged cleansing and filtration process.
Let’s break it down, what do these kits consist of?
Firstly, the type of spill kit that is chosen would depend on the type of plant, site or workshop operation, or more specifically, the type/s of potentially hazardous fluids that are used in operation.
- Absorption socks – Absorbent socks are placed on the parameter of the spill to stop it from spreading further.
- Absorption pillows – The large surface area of the pillows allows for high quantities of liquid to be absorbed over a short period of time.
- Coco peat absorbent – Coco peat is a natural, renewable and bio-degradable substance with fast absorption properties. A 22kg pack is able to absorb around 220L of oil, fuel and petroleum-based products.
- Chemical absorbent scatter – Similar concept to coco peat, but more ideally suited to chemical and acid spillages. 500g absorbs around 3L of liquid.
Spill control and clean up
- Polyethylene Shovel – This shovel is durable and manufactured from polyethylene to create an anti-static and non-conductive product.
- Dust pan and brush – Non-spark product which is acid resistant and included with all truck and tanker spill kits.
- Industrial Broom – Hard wearing industrial synthetic broom to assist with quick and easy spill clean-up.
- Heavy duty recovery bags – These bags are high quality and durable. Manufactured from polyethylene, these bags are suited to industry specific needs.
- Plastic wheelie bin – These wheelie bins come in various size and available in spill kit for all specialty spill kits and universal kits.
- Durable Bucket – The bucket serves as a more compact alternative to the wheelie bin. Can be easily stored in a smaller space and ideal for spills of a smaller size.
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – Included in the spills kit are dust masks, safety goggles and heavy-duty PVC gloves to ensure the greatest possible worker safety when dealing with spills.
There are various spill kits available for spills of different liquids, each tailor made to cater to work spaces and spills of various sizes which range from kits which can absorb as little as 25L to as much as 10 000L. Specific spill kits are available for oils, fuels, coolants, chemicals and solvents, and for those who work with non-aggressive oils and chemicals, a universal spill kit might me a better option.
All of this top-quality equipment wouldn’t mean much if nobody would knew what to do with it. Therefore, guides to all the contents of the spill kit, as well as a spill instructions guide with procedures is provided on our website. These guides are to be read and understood perfectly to ensure a spill is best dealt with under specific circumstances making sure you’re always spill ready.
Spill response is no new phenomenon, but I call for more than that, I call for a global move toward higher environmental consciousness and more pronounced appreciation for natural resources.
Now’s your time… Join the movement.