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Spill Control & Spill Prevention

Individuals should be familiar with the properties and hazards of the materials with which they work with. In the event of a chemical spill, the individual(s) who caused the spill is responsible for prompt and proper clean-up. Improper clean-up of a chemical spill may result in injury, illness, fire, a release to the environment, or property damage. Planning for chemical spills is essential. Before beginning work with chemicals, one should be sure that he or she has adequate training for cleaning up small spills, and that the appropriate types and amounts of spill clean-up materials and personal protective equipment are immediately available.

Each chemical user should consult the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for the specific chemical that he/she plans to work with and consider response options in case of a spill or release beforehand.

Pre-planning is essential to safely and properly handling a spill.

Individuals working with chemicals should consider the following items to prepare themselves for spill control and clean-up:

Review Material Safety Data Sheets or other references for recommended spill clean-up methods and materials, and the need for personal protective equipment (e.g., respirators, gloves, etc.).
Acquire sufficient quantities and types of spill control materials to contain any spills than can be reasonably anticipated.
Acquire recommended personal protective equipment and training in its proper use, including respirators, gloves, and eye and face protection.
Place spill control materials in a readily accessible location, close to the areas where chemicals are used or stored.

How to Choose the Right Sorbent or Spill Kit for the Job!

Determine the type of spill you need to contain or absorb:

Designed to absorb all non-aggressive liquids such as oils, coolants, solvents, antifreeze and water.

Designed to selectively absorb petroleum, hydrocarbons and other oil-based liquids.

Designed to absorb aggressive chemical and acid spills.

General Guidelines for Cleaning Up Chemical Spills

1. Immediately alert others in the area including the supervisor and evacuate the area, if necessary.
2. If there is a fire or medical attention is needed, contact the appropriate EHS Personnel.
3. Attend to any persons who may be contaminated. Contaminated clothing must be removed immediately and the skin flushed with water for no less than fifteen minutes. Clothing must be laundered before reuse.
4. If a volatile, flammable material is spilled, immediately warn others in the area, control sources of ignition, and ventilate the area.
5. Wear personal protective equipment, as appropriate to the hazards. Refer to your Chemical Hygiene Plan, the Material Safety Data Sheet or other references available for information.
6. If the spill is a MAJOR one, if there has been a release to the environment, or if assistance is needed, contact the appropriate EHS Personnel.
7. Consider the need for respiratory protection. The use of a respirator or self-contained breathing apparatus requires specialized training and medical surveillance. Never enter a contaminated atmosphere without protection or use a respirator without training. If respiratory protection is needed and no trained personnel are available, contact the appropriate EHS Personnel. If respiratory protection is available, be sure there is another person outside the spill area in communication or in sight, in case of emergency.
8. Protect floor drains or other means for environmental release. Spill socks and absorbents may be placed around drains, as needed.
Loose spill control materials should be distributed over the entire spill area, working from the outside, circling to the center. This reduces the chance of splash or spreading of the spilled chemical.
Bulk absorbents and many spill pillows do not work on hydrofluoric acid.
POLYZORB® products and their equivalent will handle hydrofluoric acid. Many neutralizers for acids and bases have a color change indicator to show when neutralization is complete.
Several materials for cleaning up mercury spills are available in chemical catalogs, safety supply catalogs and at some of the science and engineering stockrooms. Broken thermometers, gauges or other mercury-containing materials, may be placed in a plastic bag or glass or metal container, and sealed.
9. When the spilled materials have been absorbed, use a brush and scoop (spark-resistant if flammable materials are involved) to place materials in an appropriate container. Polyethylene bags may be used for small spills. Five gallon pails or 20 gallon drums with polyethylene liners may be appropriate for larger spills.
10. Complete a hazardous waste tag, identifying the material as Spill Debris involving XYZ Chemical, and affix the sticker to the container or bag. Remember the use of an absorbent does not alter the chemical properties of the chemical. Contact the Hazardous Waste Manager for advice on storage and packaging for disposal.
11. Place the container in a hood or other properly ventilated area until the next chemical waste pick-up.
12. Decontaminate surfaces involved in the spill using a mild detergent and water, as appropriate.
13. Report all spills to your supervisor or the principal investigator.
14. Replenish spill control materials.

Spill Control Kits

Store and protect sorbents in easily accessible spill kits. Spill kits allow workers to quickly respond to an incident to manage potentially dangerous and costly spills. Review the area where your sorbents are needed and determine the largest potential spill for the area. Also determine if the spill kit should be mobile or permanently stationed.

Individual Responsibilities

Become familiar with the hazards of chemical products before using them.
Use preventive measures to minimize the likelihood of spills, such as using secondary containers when transporting chemicals and placing absorbent materials on work surfaces.
Receive training, as needed.
Assess the need for spill control materials.
Assist in developing spill response plans.
Clean up small spills properly.
Report all spills to a supervisor or principal investigator.

Spill Containment Decks, Pallets and Accumulation Centers

Contain leaks, spills and accumulated precipitation from hazardous liquids.

Catches spill and drips that happen when filling and dispensing.
The containment unit must have sufficient capacity to contain 10% of the total volume of all containers in the grouping, OR the volume of the single largest container in the grouping, whichever is greater.

Flammable Storage

Safety cans should be approved containers, of not more than a 5 gallon capacity, with a spring-closing lid and a spout cover. They should be designed so that they will safely relieve internal pressure when subjected to fire exposure.

The quantity of liquid that may be located outside of an inside storage room or storage cabinet in a building or in any one fire area of a building should not exceed:

(1) 25 gallons of Class IA liquids in containers.
(2) 120 gallons of Class IB, IC, II, or III liquids in containers.
(3) 660 gallons of Class IB, IC, II, or III liquids in a single portable tank.

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