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Spill Control Assessment - Choosing the Right Sorbents

The following questions were developed to help you determine your spill control needs and to answer your questions regarding a spill control plan. Use your answers to help you develop your spill control plan that will elminate leaks, drips, sprays or spills in your plant, help you comply and maintain a spill contingency plan and minimize or eliminate potential safety hazards around machines or in storage areas where a risk of injury or chemical reaction is possible.

The key is being prepared. When developing your spill control plan, you should have certain tools readily available, either to use in case of an emergency, or to control daily leaks and spills around your plant. Choose the right spill control products, personal protective equipment and cleanup equipment to handle and manage the type, size and location of a potential spill, before it occurs.

Does your plant have a need for spill control products in any of the following areas:
Yes
No
Areas in which non-aggressive liquids (oils, coolants, solvents, water, etc.) are used?
/
/
Areas in which petroleum-based liquids (gasoline, diesel fuel, crude oil, etc.) are used?
/
/
Areas in which aggressive liquids (such as acids and bases) are used?
/
/
(click here for our easy to use absorbent selection guide)
/
/
Are these spill control products needed to:
Yes
No
Control the spread of leaks, spills, drips and sprays?
/
/
Control leaks, drips and spray around machines?
/
/
Protect walkways and personnel in high-traffic areas?
/
/
Quickly absorb standing spills?
/
/
Absorb liquids in high-traffic areas?
/
/
Absorb liquids below machines, conveyors, valves, etc.?
/
/

Spill Maintenance Products
Spill maintenance products are used for everyday industrial situations involving cleanups or leaks. Typical maintenance leaks and spills involve oils, greases, lubricants, petroleum-based solvents, gasoline, diesel fuel, kerosene, water, water-based cleaning solutions, antifreeze or other non-aggressive fluids.

Examples of spill maintenance products include sorbent booms, pads, pillows, rolls and socks and loose sorbents.

Spill Control Products
Spill control products are items needed for larger spills and for spills involving aggressive liquids. Examples of spill control products include berms, booms, dikes, loose sorbents and neutralizers.

Sorbents can absorb, and/or contain virtually any liquid found in today's work environment. There are three categories of sorbents: universal, petroleum and maintenance.

Universal sorbents are designed to absorb any liquid. They will absorbent oil, coolants, solvents, water and certain acids and bases. Hazmat absorbents are universal absorbents that will also absorb more aggressive liquids, such as acids and bases, as well as non-aggressive liquids and solvents, such as cleaners, water-based fluids, gasoline and alcohols. Most universal sorbents are made from either surfactant-treated polypropylene or expanded silicates.

Petroleum sorbents (Oil-Only Absorbents) are designed for absorption of oil and or petroleum-based liquids. These sorbents will not absorb water or water-based liquids. Petroleum sorbents are made of polypropylene or treated cellulose.

Maintenance sorbents absorb non-aggressive liquids commonly found in manufacturing/maintenance operations. These sorbents are typically made of recycled materials, such as cotton, wool, cellulose or corn cobs. They can also be made of polypropylene, or a combination of the materials listed above.

  • Sorbent pads or rolls may be used to catch leaks, drips and spray as they occur. They are also ideal for use in high-traffic aisles and next to machines. Pads may also be used below machines, conveyors and valves.
  • Sorbent booms or socks may be used around machines to keep the areas clean, safe and dry from leaks, drips and spray.
  • Sorbent pillows may be used for absorbing large amounts of spilled liquids. Universal sorbent pillows may be used for spilled aggressive liquids. They may be used wherever corrosives, oxidizers, flammables or other hazardous liquids are stored.
  • Sorbent pillows with drip pans may be used for nuisance leaks and drips from spigots and pipes.
  • Loose sorbents are formulated to maximize absorption and minimize dust. They may be used to absorb liquids in heavy traffic areas.
Sources for More Information
29 Code of Federal Regulations 1910.120, Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response


Questions & Answers

Q. What type of absorbent is needed for cleaning up hydrofluoric acid?

A. When cleaning up hydrofluoric acid, use a sorbent made of polypropylene. Do not use an expanded silicate absorbent, as the expanded silicate material will react with hydrofluoric acid.

Q. Are there specific training requirements for personnel who respond to chemical spills?

A. Yes. These requirements may be found in 29 Code of Federal Regulations 1910.120, Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response.

Q. Are there specific regulations governing the disposal of sorbents saturated with hazardous materials?

A. The handling, storage and disposal of sorbents, when saturated with hazardous materials, are governed by local, state and federal environmental laws.

Please Note: The information contained in this publication is intended for general information purposes only. This publication is not a substitute for review of the applicable government regulations and standards, and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the cited regulation or consult with an attorney.


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