Electric Utility Saves on Secondary Containment O&M Costs with High-Flow Oil Water Filtration System

An electric utility in metropolitan New York City utilizes concrete secondary containment moats in substations throughout its vast network. Following storms with heavy rain fall, the moats filled with large volumes of water. This water needed to be evacuated. Strict SPCC guidelines and state and city regulations require discharged water to be completely free of hydrocarbon contamination.

BCI Develops Advanced Oil Water Separator

Background:

An electric utility in metropolitan New York City utilizes concrete secondary containment moats in substations throughout its vast network. Following storms with heavy rain fall, the moats filled with large volumes of water. This water needed to be evacuated. Strict SPCC guidelines and state and city regulations require discharged water to be completely free of hydrocarbon contamination.

The utility implemented a gravity-flow, automatic pump oil filtration system like an oil water separator, but its flow rate of 3 to 7 gallons per minute was very low. During heavy rainfalls, the filtration system and pump could not keep up with the rain flow. Standing water collected within their substation containment areas and required manual pumping. Additional labor and manpower increased operation and maintenance (O&M) costs for the utility.

Objective:

The electric utility wanted a solution to prevent standing water in the moats and eliminate the high O&M cost. They preferred an automatic pumping system with high flow rates. It was important for the system to be simple to maintain, provide oil filtration to a non-detectable level, and provide complete shut off in the event of an oil release.

Solution:

BCI developed an innovative, low-maintenance oil water filtration system designed to deliver the highest flow rates in the industry. The VIPOR-100 SOWF (Sump Oil Water Filtration) system incorporates the same oil filtration concepts as the HFF Oil Stop Valve. Enclosed within a fiberglass housing, it uses a heavy duty ½ HP pump. The system’s flow rate exceeds 100 gallons per minute.

The VIPOR-100 is a very low maintenance system. The unit features an access port in the lid to service the pre-filter sock in the throat of the oil/water filter, which requires periodic flushing. A VSF (Vault Sump Filter) pre-filter ring around the pump prevents dirt and debris from clogging the system. In the event of an oil release, the VIPOR-100 completely shuts off. In the absence of an oil release, the unit will never have to be replaced, provided the pre-filter sock remains in place and is serviced as needed.

Use the VIPOR-100 to provide secondary containment in substations, underground vaults or anywhere in which there is a need to evacuate high volumes of water that are required to be completely free of hydrocarbon contamination. Light enough to be portable, it can also service manholes and vaults in underground networks. It is especially suited for states threatened by tropical storms and hurricanes.

Installation of the VIPOR-100 is a very simple plug-and-play process. It can be positioned inside or outside of the secondary containment moat. Plumb each unit into existing drainage systems or into the substation yard. Installations usually take less than a day. Customizable components and adaptations are available as the situation requires.

Conclusion

The electric utility replaced many of its oil water separator units with the VIPOR-100 SOWF system. It also placed orders for several more. Because the VIPOR-100 delivers higher flow rates yet requires much less maintenance than the previous oil water separator systems, the utility lowered and, in some cases, eliminated the costs associated with manually evacuating standing water in several of its substations.

Learn More About VIPOR Oil Water Filtration Systems

BCI supplies three VIPOR models. Along with the VIPOR-100, we offer the VIPOR-SOWF, most suitable for secondary containment vaults with a collection sump; and the VIPOR-SUMP, which is commonly used in transformer vaults that have a flat floor and a crock. We also provide VIPOR combination solutions with some of our other systems. Contact us today for a quote.

Meeting SPCC Regulations: What Size Transformer Oil Containment System Do I Need?

Secondary oil containment around transformers is critical for capturing oil spills and protecting the environment. SPCC regulations provide guidance for containing oil-filled equipment. The rule specifies sizing oil containment systems to contain the contents of the largest vessel – or in this case, the transformer inside the containment area. Add 10 percent to the volume of oil to accommodate precipitation or snow.

Secondary oil containment around transformers is critical for capturing oil spills and protecting the environment. SPCC regulations provide guidance for containing oil-filled equipment. The rule specifies sizing oil containment systems to contain the contents of the largest vessel – or in this case, the transformer inside the containment area. Add 10 percent to the volume of oil to accommodate precipitation or snow.

How does this work practically for calculating secondary containment for transformers?

Calculating Transformer Oil Containment

Though calculating the required oil containment capacity for your substation is important, the total volume of oil is just one of many factors that influence the design of your secondary containment system. Additional considerations include:

  • Number of vessels on site
  • Total amount oil on site
  • Site topography
  • Physical encumbrances on the site
    • Buildings, pilings, piers, cable runs
    • Fences, roads, gates
  • Depth of the grounding grids
  • Size and depth of pads
  • Available footprint

Meet SPCC Regulations for Oil Containment in 6 Simple Steps

We make it easy for engineers to figure out what size transformer oil containment is necessary to meet SPCC regulations. Calculate the secondary containment volume requirement for your transformer area by following these six steps:

Key:
1 cubic foot = 7.50 gallons of capacity
1 cubic foot of stone = 3 gallons of capacity at 40 percent void

  1. Find out the volume of oil for the largest transformer vessel in the area that needs containment. Add 10 percent freeboard to account for rain and snow.
  2. Determine the depth of the secondary containment area based on existing stone depth and the site layout. Calculate the capacity of oil for one square foot surface area. Note that different stone sizes have different void space for capacity calculations.
  3. Divide the 110 percent volume required by the capacity per square foot of stone. This reveals the square foot area of oil containment required.
  4. Calculate the square foot area of the transformer pad, plus any other piers in the containment area.
  5. Add the square foot of containment required (Step 3) to the square foot of the pads (Step 4) to find the total square foot area.
  6. Determine the length and width of sidewalls based on this square foot area and the physical constraints and barriers of the site (such as fencing, etc.)

Calculating Transformer Oil Containment: A Case Study

To comply with SPCC regulations, an electric utility wants to install secondary containment around its 600-gallon transformer. It sits on an 8-ft. by 10-ft concrete pad. A fence line lies 30 feet from the side of the transformer. Let’s follow the six steps above to calculate its secondary containment volume requirement:

  1. Oil containment volume needed = 600 gallons x 1.1 = 660 gallons.
  2. Existing stone depth is 12 inches. The stone has 40 percent void space, yielding a stone capacity of 3 gallons per square foot.
  3. Area of containment required = 660 / 3 = 220 square feet
  4. Area of transformer pad = 8 x 10 = 80 square feet
  5. Total area = 220 + 80 = 300 square feet
  6. To fit within the fence line in a symmetrical containment area, choose a width of 13 feet (6.5 feet in each direction). A length of 24 feet would provide a total area of 312 square feet to meet our oil containment needs.

SPCC Regulations

Types of Transformer Oil Containment Systems

BCI supplies site-specific oil containment systems. For sites with clay or impervious subsoils, use our tried-and-true Barrier Boom Secondary Oil Containment. The system allows rainwater to flow out of the containment area during normal rain or snow events, but, in the case of an oil spill, will become an impervious barrier to hydrocarbons.

Also available is the Geomembrane Liner System with Barrier Boom. This solution can be installed in all type subsoils. It is best suited for containment around the transformer, instead of the perimeter of the substation.

Contact Us Today for More Info About Transformer Oil Containment

More than 10,000 substations worldwide BCI oil containment systems. Contact us for your secondary containment needs.

SPCC Requirements for Transformers: 3 Questions to Ask

Substation transformer failures have the potential to release large amounts of oil, which can pollute the environment and damage plant and animal life. Any incident of this nature draws negative media coverage and results in costly cleanup operations. A power utility in Brooklyn experienced this firsthand in 2017 when a catastrophic transformer failure released an estimated 37,000 gallons of dielectric fluid. The oil seeped into the East River requiring a significant cleanup operation.

Besides the negative publicity and costly cleanup and reclamation following an oil spill, utility companies also face federal and state fines and years of lengthy litigation. Learn the transformer oil containment requirements and how to comply.

SPCC Requirements: The Primary Legislation

The overarching body of legislation related to oil spills is U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Title 40. It aims to protect the environment by preventing spills from affecting navigable waters.

40 CFR 112.7 establishes the rules for Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC), specifically General Secondary Oil Containment requirements. Owners and operators of oil-filled equipment must access their potential risks of an oil release migrating offsite and into the navigable waters of the U.S. This assessment may require an SPCC plan.

SPCC Requirements: Standards for Electric Utility Companies

In 1973, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) established a working group to apply SPCC to substation transformers, which resulted in the development of IEEE Standard 980 – Guide for Containment and Control of Oil Spills in Substations.

The 980 Standard provides an overview of the SPCC requirements and application for substation transformers. It details site risk assessment and evaluation parameters as well as options and alternative solutions for spill control and countermeasures within substations.

SPCC Regulations

SPCC Requirements – Three Important Questions to Ask

1. Do You Need an SPCC Plan?

SPCC applies to facilities that have more than 1,320 gallons of above-ground oil storage or more than 42,000 gallons below ground. Since transformers are considered oil-filled equipment, most substations fall into this category.

2. Can You Self-Certify Your SPCC Plan?

There are two criteria for self-certification. First, the above ground oil storage capacity in the substation transformer must be 10,000 gallons or less. Second, companies must have a good environmental track record.

The limit is only one spill into navigable waters greater than 1,000 gallons in the previous three years. There is also a maximum of two spills greater than 42 gallons in any 12-month period during that time.

Companies that fail to meet these criteria must use a Professional Engineer to certify their SPCC plan.

3. What Should an SPCC Plan Include?

SPCC plans list oil spill sources. IEEE 980 highlights oil filled equipment like substation transformers. Other sources for potential spills include cables, oil-handling equipment, reactors, oil circuit breakers, pots and storage tanks.

BCI Barrier Boom features patented oil filtration technology to prevent oil from migrating off site

A plan is required to describe the probability of a failure and the size of spill that could result. Operational and inspection procedures help identify early warning signs to prevent spills.

SPCC plans cover general containment of the entire facility, including specific measures taken for individual pieces of oil filled equipment. The regulations provide numerous alternatives and methods for secondary oil containment.

BCI supplies multiple secondary containment options for the power utility sector. Our patented oil filtration technology captures hydrocarbons present in water as it evacuates from the containment area, without the aid of valves or pumps. It instantly and completely shuts off in the event of an oil release.

Finally, remember that no SPCC plan is complete without having countermeasures specified and in place. Facilities must prepare to respond to a spill when it happens. Speed of response is critical to prevent pollution to navigable waters.

Contact BCI for Help Meeting SPCC Requirements

BCI prides itself on being a global leader in providing secondary containment solutions for substation transformers. We deliver technical solutions that meet and usually exceed EPA and SPCC requirements. Contact us for more information about our revolutionary technology.

References

Why Wind Farms Need Secondary Spill Containment

By the end of 2018, the total installed capacity of wind power in the United States reached more than 96,000 MW. Wind power is now a major segment of the sustainable power sector with the ability to supply the needs of 24 million homes.

Currently, there are more than 56,000 utility scale wind turbines operating in the US. Each wind turbine connects to its own step-up transformer. From there, power transfers to the grid through an additional step-up transformer called a “collector” in a substation. Generally small in MVA rating, wind turbine step-up transformers are in the base of the turbine itself.

Typical power generation capacity for a wind turbine ranges between 660 MW to 3 MW. However, wind turbines never consistently operate at capacity due to the variable nature of wind. Because of this, it is normal for a wind turbine to produce only 30 to 40 percent of the rated power capacity.

Wind farms also use grounding transformers. A string of individual turbines connects to a single grounding transformer. Operators spread them throughout the wind farm footprint. Grounding transformers play a critical role in providing a path to ground for step-up transformers. This is important if the string becomes isolated from the substation due to a fault. Consequences of not having a path to ground are over-voltage, over-current, and transformer overload leading to failures. If a failure occurs, secondary spill containment becomes a priority to protect any nearby employees and the environment.

What Can Go Wrong with a Wind Turbine Transformer?

Transformer at a wind farm

Wind turbine transformers are subject to more severe stresses than other transformers so secondary spill containment becomes necessary. Wind is erratic by nature. It gusts and changes direction easily. During a normal day, the output energy of a wind turbine varies. This cycling stresses the windings and seals of the step-up transformers. Heating and cooling oil also releases nitrogen gas, which can create hotspots and potential points of failure.

While wind energy is clean and sustainable, wind farms are not immune to transformer failure and the potential of oil spills. Even clean energy sources, like the wind industry, are subject to EPA and SPCC regulations just like other power generators. Part of EPA and SPCC compliance means having approved secondary spill containment options for your operations.

How Does the SPCC Rule Apply to the Wind Industry?

The Spill Prevention Controls and Countermeasures (SPCC) rule is part of the EPA’s Clean Water Act defined in 40 CFR 112.7. Its purpose is to prevent an oil spill from reaching navigable waters of the United States. Electric transformers qualify as “oil-filled equipment” and fall under this rule. Operators must provide secondary spill containment to capture spills and leaks in case of a transformer failure.

Recommended Solutions for Wind Farms

Secondary containment for the wind industry focuses primarily on the collection step-up transformers located in substations. Depending on the size of the wind farm, substations may collect power from different parts of the farm. BCI supplies the following solutions for substation transformers:

BCI VIPOR-SUMP installed in a secondary containment sump of a wind turbine transformer

  • BCI PolySeam® Barrier Boom Oil Filtration Panels Passive Drainage System
    This innovative solution combines the extreme durability of our patented PolySeam Liner Attachment System with the reliability of the popular Barrier Boom secondary containment solution. The PolySeam application provides a fast and cost-effective method of attaching a containment liner without the need for traditional batten bar. It allows rainfall to passively drain through the Barrier Boom but becomes an impervious barrier when it comes in contact with oil. Thus, it prevents hydrocarbons from migrating outside of the containment area.
  • BCI VIPOR Systems
    Some wind turbine transformers are housed in secondary containment vaults or sumps, which may be underground. As normal rain and snow runoff accumulates, it can mix with oil from the equipment. Using the same technology as the Barrier Boom, the versatile BCI VIPOR system provides automatic, compliant dewatering of those containment areas. In the event of an oil release, its main filter core will solidity, preventing any liquid from passing.

More Spill Contaiment Solutions

BCI Provides Secondary Spill Containment Solutions for the Wind Industry

With more than 10,000 secondary containment installations for diverse applications, BCI has the knowledge and experience to help you solve your secondary containment needs. Our solutions meet and exceed the EPA requirements including the SPCC rule. Contact us for more information.

 

References

How to Protect Solar Transformers from Unexpected Oil Spills

The United States solar industry is booming. According to the Solar Energy Industry Association, it boasts an annual average growth rate of 59 percent over the last decade. Utility scale projects accounted for 59 percent of new solar installations in 2017, and should continue at that rate or higher through 2021. Like wind, water and other renewable energy sources, solar energy relies on transformers to connect to the power grid.

The United States solar industry is booming. According to the Solar Energy Industry Association, it boasts an annual average growth rate of 59 percent over the last decade. Utility scale projects accounted for 59 percent of new solar installations in 2017, and should continue at that rate or higher through 2021. Like wind, water and other renewable energy sources, solar energy relies on transformers to connect to the power grid.

Electrical transformers step up solar farm output voltage to the electrical grid voltage. They also create an electrical barrier between the grid and the solar farm. This adds a safety protection layer that prevents grid surges from impacting the solar farm equipment.

Large step ups in voltage require large transformers. If the grid voltage is 35kV or lower, solar producers use distribution transformers. However, voltages higher than 35kV may require substation transformers. Substation transformers can connect into a grid voltage up to 115kV.

What Can Go Wrong with a Solar Transformer?

Transformers contain oil, even in solar farms. Oil fulfills two functions in a transformer. First, it acts as an insulator between the primary and secondary electrical circuits. Second, it performs as a coolant to dissipate the heat generated during operation.

Although the quality of transformer oil has improved over the years, oil leaks still damage the environment. Companies found guilty of oil pollution face EPA fines.

Do Solar Transformers Need to Meet SPCC Regulations for Secondary Containment?

Spill, Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) rules is the primary legislation covering oil spills into the environment. It describes the action that companies must take to prevent oil from reaching navigable waters. Secondary containment is one of the key principles of SPCC.

Recommended Solar Transformer Oil Containment Solutions

Install BCI Geomembrane Liner with Barrier Boom for solar transformer secondary containment. The liner features windows or side walls that allow water but prevent hydrocarbons from passing through. In the case of a catastrophic oil release, the Barrier Boom panels completely solidify, trapping the oil within the containment area. This system can be installed to-grade as well as diked, depending on the preferred configuration.

Fiberglass composite walls, such as Strongwell COMPOSOLITE Walls, are also suitable when installed with a Geomembrane Liner and HFF Oil Stop Valve System. Use the geomembrane to line the floors. Drain rain and excess water to an HFF outside of the containment unit.

The HFF processes all water and runoff, but will filter most organic hydrocarbons to non-detect levels. If a significant release occurs, it will shut off and back-up the containment area. This prevents contaminated water from escaping.

More Spill Containment Solutions

Contact BCI for Secondary Containment for the Solar Industry

BCI is a leader in the field of secondary containment and SPCC compliance. We deliver technical solutions that meet and usually exceed EPA and SPCC regulations. Find out more about our secondary containment solutions for electrical transformers here.

References

What is an Oil Solidifier?

Oil solidifiers, like BCI’s Oil Solidifying Polymers (formerly known as C.I.Agent), are composed of dry, high molecular weight polymers that have a porous matrix and large oleophilic (strong affinity for oil rather than water) surface area. Upon contact with oil, the oil solidifiers form a physical bond with the oil.

Oil solidifiers, like BCI’s Oil Solidifying Polymers (formerly known as C.I.Agent), are composed of dry, high molecular weight polymers that have a porous matrix and large oleophilic (strong affinity for oil rather than water) surface area. Upon contact with oil, the oil solidifiers form a physical bond with the oil.

The result is that the oil’s viscosity increases to the point that the oil solidifies into a rubber-like solid that is non-toxic and floats on water. The end product can range from a firm cohesive mass to a non-cohesive granular material. Oil solidifiers, or adsorbents, exist in various forms, including dry powder, granules, semi-solid materials (e.g. pucks, cakes, balls, sponge designs), and contained in booms, pillows, pads, and socks.

How do oil solidifiers work?

Oil solidifiers are polymers that have a physical attraction to hydrocarbons (oil, gasoline, etc.) that is caused by Van de Waal’s forces. They consist of long chains of hydrocarbons that have a loose molecular structure and a very porous matrix. They increase the viscosity of the oil to the point that it forms a solid mass.

Solidification time is primarily controlled by grain size (and thus surface area) of the product. Solidification time varies from a few seconds to a few minutes, depending on the viscosity of the oil. Fine-grained powders solidify faster than granules because of higher surface area on the product and higher diffusion rate of the oil.

Once oil is solidified, it is very easy to manage and remove with simple tools such as rakes, shovels and nets. The solidified oil can be recycled for use in asphalt or various other industrial applications.

What are the advantages of oil solidifiers or adsorbents compared to traditional cleanup methods?

Traditional oil spill cleanup methods such as vacuum trucks and skimmers are very expensive and require a lot of manpower. The cleanup process is often slow, and transporting water for processing is often needed.

Solidified oil does not need any processing afterwards. It can be recycled, reused in various industrial applications, or disposed of in landfills depending on local regulations.

Solidifiers are non-toxic and float on water. They are not harmful to animals, humans or the environment. They are very cost effective, up to 80 percent compared to traditional cleanup methods.

Why are oil solidifiers not more in common use?

The typical response when asked this question is that a regulatory person generally addresses cost and availability. When cost is mentioned, because of lack of experience and knowledge, the responsible party or on-scene coordinator is only addressing material cost, not overall cost, including labor and water processing afterwards.

On-site availability is an issue because of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) restrictions that don’t allow a responsible party to react to an oil spill until an on-scene coordinator has arrived to the site. Pre-approval by Regional Response Teams (RRT) is needed for the responsible party to be able to respond using solidifiers (in loose form) during a time-sensitive situation – and all spills are time sensitive.

Pre-approvals have to be obtained per RRT region by the manufacturer of the oil solidifier product. There are thirteen RRT regions, and each region requires its own testing and application process. The application process per region is very lengthy, and the product is eventually approved in that region only. It is not submitted on a national level. This forms a huge barrier for companies that want to introduce new and improved technologies on a national scale.

BCI Provides Cutting-Edge Secondary Oil Containment

BCI’s proprietary oil solidifying polymers are a key component for many different oil containment solutions. Contact us to learn more about our integrated containment systems or for a free quote.

One EVAC Filtration System Works Great, but How About 7?

An Illinois utility used the EVAC Filtration System to assist in the dewatering of vaults and manholes in the City of Chicago and surrounding suburbs. The EVAC System uses state-of-the-art filtration technology to remove suspended solids and light sheen from water discharge operations.

An Illinois utility used the EVAC Filtration System to assist in the dewatering of vaults and manholes in the City of Chicago and surrounding suburbs. The EVAC System uses state-of-the-art filtration technology to remove suspended solids and light sheen from water discharge operations.

When the utility’s management wanted to decrease the total time crews spent dewatering a manhole/vault, their environmental contractor worked to develop a better, faster way. He created a manifold where the crew could hook up seven EVAC Filters to a 2500+ GPM centrifugal pump, also known as the squid system. This allowed the crew to pump out a manhole/vault in a matter of minutes. From the initial set-up to tear down, the crew could pump out the network’s largest vaults/manholes in 30 minutes or less.

The environmental crew always keeps 1-2 EVAC Filtration Systems on their trucks just in case one or more starts to “blind” after being used multiple times.

Contact BCI for all Dewatering Equipment Needs

BCI provides a variety of dewatering equipment options, including the original EVAC Filtration System, along with the EVAC Lite, the Super Sediment Filter Sock, and the EVAC Lite Plus. Custom sizes are available – contact us today for a quote.

More Case Studies

EPA Uses Efficient, Inexpensive EVAC System for Dewatering Equipment

When a frac tank full of oily waste had to be emptied, the EPA used the EVAC Filtration System to dewater it. Not only were hydrocarbons captured and sediment removed, the EVAC System cost only a fraction of the use of a vacuum truck, saving thousands of dollars.

When a frac tank full of oily waste had to be emptied, the EPA used the EVAC Filtration System to dewater it. Not only were hydrocarbons captured and sediment removed, the EVAC System cost only a fraction of the use of a vacuum truck, saving thousands of dollars.

In 2010, a fuel line between an underground storage tank and a pump discharged gasoline into Thick Creek, a tributary of the Canoochee River in southeastern Georgia. The tank was immediately emptied, but gasoline continued to flow to the surface via a groundwater seep.

The EPA used a frac tank to temporarily store the liquids removed from the sump/intercept trench. The oily wastes were pumped through a hose strung 30′ into a drainage ditch. To remove sheen and contaminants from the water, an EVAC Filter was attached to the end of the hose.

The EVAC System uses oil solidifying polymers, a non-toxic blend of food-grade polymers that solidifies hydrocarbons into a rubber-like mass. Constructed of a non-woven geotextile that absorbs 10 times its weight in hydrocarbons, the EVAC is ideal for pumping contaminated water from water discharge systems in tanks, vaults, manholes, elevator shafts, bilges and more.

The EVAC was monitored for maximum retention using a combination of Hydrocarbon Detection Strips and a TVA-1000 PID/FID vapor monitor. Approximately 9,000 gallons of water were filtered through the first EVAC filter at a rate of approximately 70 gpm. Then 5,500 gallons of water were filtered through the second EVAC at a rate of approximately 30 gpm for a total of approximately 14,500 gallons of water. Throughout the process, no sheen was observed near the filter, within the drainage ditch or on the retention pond.

The cost comparison between hiring a vacuum truck and using the EVAC Filtration System is dramatic. Hiring a truck and personnel to remove and dispose of 14,500 gallons of contaminated water costs about 70¢ per gallon, totaling $10,150. In contrast, EVAC systems cost $356 each, so the two used in Georgia cost $712.

Reusable, the EVAC system can be disposed of in most landfills, eliminating the “Cradle to Grave Liability” and the costs associated with hazardous waste disposal. Oil solidifying polymers (formerly known as C.I.Agent) are listed on the EPA National Contingency Plan Product Schedule for use on oil spills in the navigable waters of the US.

Contact BCI for Your Dewatering Equipment

BCI offers many sludge and dewatering solutions for managing vault and manhole O&M. Contact us today to learn more.

More Case Studies

Understanding Variables That Define Secondary Containment System Design

Throughout the years of providing secondary containment systems and solutions for utility companies, we’ve realized that the only constant in the design of Geomembrane Liner with Barrier Boom systems is that there is no constant. Each site is unique, and requires a customized solution.

Throughout the years of providing secondary containment systems and solutions for utility companies, we’ve realized that the only constant in the design of Geomembrane Liner with Barrier Boom systems is that there is no constant. Each site is unique, and requires a customized solution.

Each substation site has unique needs and variable. We use these to create customized containment solutions

The variables that make each site unique differ case by case, but often include:

  • The amount of oil
  • The number of vessels
  • The physical placement of the vessels
  • The depth of gravel
  • The area available for containment
  • The type of sub-soil
  • The topography

The Role of Sub-Surface Soil

When we install containment on sites with clay sub-soil surfaces, no liner is required

If any of the variables listed above differ or change from site to site, the design of the containment will change. SPCC 40 CFR 112 requires both the walls and floor of a containment system to be impervious. Sometimes this can be accomplished with the sub-surface soil, as in the case of a clay sub-surface. The EPA considers sites that have a sub-surface soil of clay to be impervious. Therefore, if we were installing the containment on a site with clay soil, we would not need to utilize a liner. Barrier Boom walls would be placed in the clay sub-soil sealed with granule Bentonite® at the bottom edge and back filled with clean washed stone.

However, sites where the sub-soil is permeable would require a liner to prevent the possibility of an oil leak from contaminating the ground and nearby water sources. In containment systems requiring liners, the Barrier Boom Secondary Oil Containment is constructed with a 4-inch flap that is placed under the liner’s outside edges and sealed with granular Bentonite. Then it is covered and back filled with clean washed stone.

Liners should be installed at sites with permeable sub-soil to prevent an oil spill from contaminating navigable waters

Granular Bentonite is also used to seal the overlap along the seams of the liner and around any conduit or obstructions on the site. The liner can be attached and sealed to the concrete transformer pads or piers with silicone mastic or a Bentonite clay paste. The liner is held firmly in place by the pressure of the back filled stone. Other mechanical attachment methods may be incorporated.

Importance of Gravel Depth

The type and depth of the gravel on the site is one of the determining variables that impact the height and length of the Barrier Boom Secondary Oil Containment. It must be equal to or greater than the depth of the gravel to prevent the hydrocarbons from overflowing the containment system.

It’s important to cover the Barrier Boom with gravel. After a heavy rain event or snow melt, visually inspect the site for exposed boom. If exposed, cover with stone. Berms may need to be reshaped using a hand rake

If the gravel is 6 inches in depth, the Barrier Boom must be at least 6 inches high; 12 inches or 18 inches of gravel would require Barrier Boom of 12 inches or 18 inches respectfully.

The Barrier Boom height can also be affected by the size of the available foot print for the containment system. If the area is limited, the wall may have to be higher than the depth of the gravel, creating an above-grade berm.

The amount of oil also can affect the height of the Barrier Boom when volume exceeds the containment capacity of the gravel available.

Regardless of the height of the Barrier Boom, the maximum length of an individual piece is 50 feet. As the wall is installed, it is sealed along the bottom edge with granular Bentonite and each length is joined with a 4-inch overlap before it is backfilled with clean, washed stone.

Contact BCI to Design Site-Specific Oil Containment

BCI provides a number of custom below- and above-grade secondary containment solutions to meet SPCC requirements. Contact us today for a quote or more information.

The Drivability of Secondary Oil Containment Systems

Customer Question:

“Can we use your secondary oil containment systems even if we need to drive our maintenance trucks, equipment and vehicles into the containment area?”

Answer:

We hear this question often, generally regarding older substations that need to be retrofitted for secondary oil containment systems. Routine maintenance procedures allow workers to drive vehicles very close to the oil-filled electrical equipment on site. Ideally, the utilities prefer to incorporate oil containment systems that don’t require them to adjust standard maintenance processes. We understand, so on that note, the short answer is yes, our secondary containment solutions would accommodate frequent drive over use.

But, based on our years of experience in this industry, the short answer just isn’t good enough. Protecting the environment while complying with strict regulations demands an upmost attention to detail, and it’s important to understand the different drivability options available with our oil containment systems. Let’s explore through two different scenarios.

Drivability Scenario 1: Below-Grade Oil Containment Systems

Oil containment systems you can’t even see

(Geomembrane Liner with Barrier Boom System, or Barrier Boom Secondary Containment System)

The key word is “below-grade.” For below-grade oil containment systems, drivability can usually be accommodated without the addition of a vehicle berm or ramp, as long as the design planned for such activity and was correctly installed. In most cases, the only requirements to drive over our below-grade systems is a simple matter of using the correct stone.

Six inches of pea stone must be laid below the liner, and geotextile fabric must be placed over the liner floor before the system is backfilled with clean, washed stone. Even without using compacted aggregate, a natural compaction will occur with substantial traffic. We recommend backfilling with 12-18 inches of stone (sized ¾ to 1.5 inches) to ensure the integrity of the liner is not compromised under additional weight, and to provide at least 30 to 40 percent void space. The formula for the size of material compaction and the acceptable displacement of 14 lbs. per square inch will ensure minimal compaction takes place.

Plus, as a bonus, the 6 inches of pea stone will serve as a leach field and provide additional water drainage capabilities!

Basically, the deeper the oil containment system is, the fewer concerns exist about vehicles driving over it. The only way the oil containment system can be compromised is if that weight displacement is exceeded. For example, if a crane outrigger is required, a 2-foot square pad will allow you 8000 or more pounds of lifting before compression would become a concern.

A word of caution: While drivability is easily accomplished with this system, take care in how you maneuver the vehicles, at least initially. Abrupt turns can cause displacement of the gravel. Always inspect the area after it is driven on, and rake gravel back into place if necessary. In cases in which larger equipment is required to drive over the containment, consider using a temporary weight displacement or ground protection mat.

Drivability Scenario 2: Oil Containment System with Berm

Oil containment systems are drawn out to perfection before installation

If it isn’t possible to install an oil containment system to grade or below grade, we recommend constructing a secondary containment berm as an alternative. The two types of permanent containment berms used most often are earthen berms and DGA (dense grade aggregate) berms. An earthen berm is constructed of soil, debris and stone to form an impervious surface. The DGA berm utilizes a finely crushed densely-graded mix to construct a relatively impermeable subsurface.

In diked applications of our Geomembrane Liner and/or Barrier Boom oil containment systems, we suggest combining these two berms to allow vehicles to drive over it. First, a permanent secondary containment earthen berm should be constructed over the Barrier Boom (or Geomembrane Liner with Barrier Boom) to allow for water flow. Designate an area for a vehicle ramp that will allow drive over use without high maintenance. The vehicle ramp should be packed using finely crushed limestone or similar to form a DGA berm. The best part about the DGA berm is that it turns into an almost asphalt state that is compliant with secondary containment regulations.

Oil containment systems are marked out before installation

Oil containment solutions are tough as stone

Contact BCI for All Secondary Oil Containment Solutions

BCI helps electric utilities meet SPCC requirements for oil containment. We design site-specific solutions and can work with engineers to prepare for drivability options if required. Contact us today for a quote or more information.

Not All Secondary Containment Is Created Equal: Pros & Cons of Concrete Containment

Concrete containment is a fairly common permanent solution used by utility companies to prevent a transformer oil leak from polluting the ground, and offers some obvious benefits when used for secondary containment. It is strong and durable, and requires low maintenance. It has a long life expectancy and is fire-resistant.

Modern man lives in a concrete jungle – it’s all around us, the core ingredient to so many fundamental facets of our infrastructures, from our roadways to high-rise buildings to sports arenas to hydroelectric power plants that keep the lights of Las Vegas shining around the clock. But concrete isn’t a new concept – it’s been around for quite a while. It was widely used during the Roman Empire. One of the most notable and historical concrete structures is the Colosseum in Rome. The word itself reflects its history, stemming from the Latin word “concretus,” which meant “compact or condensed”.

Concrete containment is a fairly common permanent solution used by utility companies to prevent a transformer oil leak from polluting the ground, and offers some obvious benefits when used for secondary containment. It is strong and durable, and requires low maintenance. It has a long life expectancy and is fire-resistant.

However, there are also some cons that come with using concrete for oil containment. Anyone who has walked on a sidewalk before can point out an obvious disadvantage – concrete cracks, especially in areas where the temperature may fluctuate. Temperature variations can cause hardened concrete to contract or expand, which can lead to cracking, especially where connections provide restraint and no provision has been made for to accommodate these conditions. Weathering is also an issue. Carbonation components found in rain and moisture can cause concrete to ebb and pit over time. This combination of weathering and cracking can lead to spalling, in which chips or fragments will break off of the concrete. Left untreated and exposed to the elements, spalling can cause extensive structural damage. When choosing concrete for secondary containment, engineers must refer to ACI-06 code requirements, which are concrete design and construction standards developed specifically for environmental concrete structures.

Concrete containment runs the risk of creating a “swimming pool” of contaminated water that needs to be pumped regularly. If the concrete is cracked, as it was in this case, the water can pollute the ground

Before the geomembrane liner system can be installed, the oily water must be removed

Water drains from the concrete containment down into an external sump with an oil-detecting pump

With the cracking, weathering and squalling, leaks are sometimes inevitable. Have no fear – we offer a solution to keep your concrete containment leak free. A major investor-owned utility contacted us to help with a substation that didn’t have an ideal setup – the site had a concrete containment vault around the transformer that drained into an external sump with an oil detecting pump. They got in trouble by the state and federal regulators because oil was leaching through the cracks in the concrete, and they were pumping the oil-contaminated water onto the ground, where it was washed into a stream below the substation.

A Geomembrane Liner system is installed to seal the floor of the concrete containment

An VIPOR System replaced the faulty oil-detecting pump

The state and federal regulators required the utility to present a detailed plan of action outlining their clean up and remediation measures to restore the environment, as well as their actions to correct the situation and prevent a future reoccurrence. We recommended installing a Geomembrane Liner System, as well as a VIPOR System to replace the faulty pump in the sump.

Within two weeks, the Geomembrane Liner System was custom built to the specifications of the existing concrete containment; the installation took less than one day. This solution has been written into the utility’s standards as a solution to issues with concrete containment.

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Contact BCI to Upgrade Your Substation’s Concrete Secondary Containment

If your concrete secondary containment could use an update or needs to be retrofitted to meet SPCC requirements, we can help. Contact us today for a quote.

 

References

Not All Secondary Containment Is Created Equal: Tricks and Treats of Leaving a Smaller Footprint

We all want to do our part in taking care of this wonderful, sustainable eco-system known as Earth. As Halloween approaches and a kaleidoscope of colorful leaves slip toward the ground, we are reminded that our time wandering over her landscapes will be brief, in the grand timeline of the universe, but that doesn’t mean we should be inconsiderate as we pass through. As humans, limiting or minimizing the ecological footprints we create should be something we strive to do. After all, are we not but caretakers of our great-great-great-great grandchildren’s home?

While ensuring utilities maintain adequate secondary containment methods to comply with SPCC standards is important to preventing oil pollution and contamination of groundwater, it still has some negative effects on the environment. The construction equipment necessary to install a secondary containment system consumes a vast amount of energy, not to mention the manufacturing and transportation required for each system. Once we add human labor to the mix, we’re talking about paying a lot of GREEN (as in greenhouse gas emissions) for some Lebron James sized shoes (as in an XXL carbon footprint)!

The trick to creating a smaller footprint is to utilize void space in whatever way possible

We’ve worked with several companies over the past few years that requested a “smaller footprint” solution, due to either lack of space/land restraints or a goal of helping the environment in whatever ways possible. In the spirit of Halloween, we’d like to share a “trick” for leaving a smaller footprint and the “treats” that come with it.

A design and procedure developed by Burns & McDonnell tackled this problem head on by adopting the practice of using ADS perforated pipe (or any type of corrugated HDPE pipe) in the floor of the containment units to increase the oil capacity … and reduce the size of the footprint of the containment area.

When originally drawing the design, we planned on using the Geomembrane Liner system on containment sumps of 75 feet by 42 feet by 54 inches for 345/138kV transformers with capacities of 30,000+ gallons. Using perforated ADS pipe with a 36” diameter reduced the containment dimensions to 38 feet by 28 feet by 54 inches – with the same capacity! This method has also been successful for smaller transformers using ADS pipe from 12 inches to 24 inches in diameter.

This method has also been successful with using 12- to 24-inch perforated piping. Cover the pipes with a minimum of 12 inches of stone.

The volume of oil capacity is increased exponentially using the pipes. Let’s go over the math. Normally, when calculating containment capacity for a Geomembrane Liner with Barrier Boom system, we use the following:

1 cubic foot = 7.50 gallons of capacity
1 cubic foot of stone = 3 gallons of capacity at 40 percent void

But, in this case, because the area of a circle gives you the square footage times the length of the pipe times the gallons/liters, we get about a 99 percent void area rather than the 40 percent void we get in the stone.

Some of the many benefits of applying this method instead of other methods is that it requires less of the following:

  • Excavation: You’re not taking up as much space, so you’re dealing with less dirt than when using stone.
  • Disposal of dirt: This one is obvious – less excavation = less dirt.
  • Containment installation materials: The containment area isn’t as spread out, so the Geomembrane Liner isn’t as big. You also won’t need as much Barrier Boom because there will be fewer windows.
  • Gravel and stone: The pipes provide the void space and then some. All you need is the backfill stone to cover the pipes, and a minimum of 12 inch of stone above the pipes for fire quenching.
  • Labor and Time: Less excavation, dirt disposal, materials to install and gravel obviously means it won’t require as many people to be involved or the install to take as long as one with containment twice the size.

The pipes must be perforated to ensure the void space, otherwise you defeat the purpose of this technique. All installations were also covered with between 12 and 18 inches of clean, washed and screened stone to provide fire quenching.

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Contact BCI for Secondary Containment Solutions for a Smaller Footprint

If you want below-grade secondary oil containment but have space or depth constraints that require a smaller footprint, we can help maximize your containment capacity. BCI offers multiple systems to fit your site-specific needs – contact us for a quote or more information today.

 

References:

Not All Secondary Containment Is Created Equal: The Burdens of Earthen Berms

Deciding what sort of secondary containment to implement at your facility to comply with SPCC regulations can be tricky. There are many options available, and all have advantages as well as tradeoffs. Some companies choose to utilize solutions that have a more “natural” appeal, such as earthen berms, as well as a couple others.

Deciding what sort of secondary containment to implement at your facility to comply with SPCC regulations can be tricky. There are many options available, and all have advantages as well as tradeoffs. Some companies choose to utilize solutions that have a more “natural” appeal, such as earthen berms, as well as a couple others.

In the simplest terms, an earthen berm can be described as a level, raised bench or barrier, composed of the earth. The term berm derives from the French word berme, which means brim. The engineering of berms came about to aid the military during medieval times. Berms were used to ensure level space between defensive walls and adjacent steep-walled ditches or moats, and were intended to reduce soil pressure on the walls of the excavated part to prevent it from falling down.

In most cases, earthen berms sites require excavation and special equipment to install, and are subject to water and wind erosion, as well as animal burrowing. They often utilize clay or bentonite mixtures as sealants.

Free of chemicals, additives or anything toxic, sodium bentonite is an environmentally safe natural sealant that, when wetted by water, swells to 15 to 18 times its dry size. Clay liners obviously crack if they get too dry, though cracking will depend on the proximity to the water table and the how much it rains. Also, while a liner may be cracked at the surface, the cracks may not penetrate the entire liner.

The effectiveness of a liner depends on a variety of factors. If clay liners are exposed to liquids, they will swell and the cracks will close. Once created, because they will likely hold water, earthen berms still require ongoing O&M, such as the use of manual valves, pumps, water inspection before pumping, or oil water separators.

One solution for this problem is to add a synthetic membrane or filtration media to the mix, such as Barrier Boom – Secondary Oil Contaimment. Barrier Boom allows the unimpeded flow of water during normal rainfall or snow event, but becomes an impervious barrier in the event of an oil release.

Constructed from non-woven geotextile materials filled with oil solidifying polymers, a proprietary blend of USDA food-grade polymers, and backed with Agent-X, a non-woven geotextile materials with polymers embedded in the fabric, Barrier Boom is an accepted full containment solution for providing secondary containment as required by 40 CFR 112.7 (C) SPCC.

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Plus, if properly installed, it requires little or no maintenance and eliminates the need for other types of containment, sump pumps, oil-water separators, pits, manual valves and hydrocarbon detectors.

If the subsoil around the area to be contained is sandy or non-impervious, you may also need a liner for full protection, such as our Geomembrane Liner with Barrier Boom System. This containment system allows storm water to flow through the Barrier Boom side walls while removing hydrocarbons. In the event of a catastrophic spill, the side walls solidify and capture the oil, keeping it from escaping.

Another major drawback of earthen berms is that maintenance workers have to step over the mound or dike, and they can’t drive their trucks over them. For these situations, we recommend constructing a vehicle ramp of finely crushed, packed limestone on the earthen berm, so workers can easily drive up to the equipment. Driving over a berm without the ramp could crush the Barrier Boom panels and cause product failure. Just be sure to discuss this request with your engineer during the initial planning phase.

In this natural solution, dubbed “water gate,” Barrier Boom panels are strategically placed only at the bottom of a grade to process runoff through a water gate. River rip rap is placed on both sides to protect the gate, then covered with stone to complete the installation.

Water is processed through Barrier Boom and a water gate

River rip rap placed on both sides protects the gate

The finished application is covered with stone

Contact BCI Today for More Info About our Secondary Containment Solutions

More than 10,000 substations worldwide use BCI oil containment systems. Click here to learn more about our integrated solutions. We can also help repair existing containment. Contact us to learn how we can help meet your secondary containment needs.

Hydrostatic Pressure Test Proves This New Secondary Containment Solution Won’t Leak

An electric utility installed a 60 mil HDPE liner and sump pump for secondary containment at a transformer pit. A few months later, a site inspector checked the pit’s sump can. Surprisingly, it contained no water. With an impervious liner system, water should only be released via a drainage mechanism. The empty sump can indicated the water must be escaping through the liner itself.

While the routine inspection revealed the problem before an oil leak event occurred, the risk of the transformer discharging its entire 3,605-gallon contents into the leaking pit and, subsequently, into the local harbor created an urgency to resolve the problem. Environmental incidents of that magnitude attract large scale media attention. Cleanup costs and regulatory fines can run into the millions.

The utility asked BCI to develop a solution, but with a catch. They required a hydrostatic pressure test to make sure the containment met their engineering standards – and to avoid another liner failure. With thousands of dollars already spent, management was heavily eyeing the project. There was no room for error.

Developing a New Secondary Containment Solution

The initial suggestion was to switch from the existing HDPE liner to a BCI 40 oz. PVC liner. After meetings with client engineers and contractors, as well as a site visit, an alternative solution emerged. Due to the number of cable and ground grid penetrations, as well as the slope of the pit, BCI realized it was a perfect opportunity for its new line of industrial coating applications.

Experts from both BCI’s Secondary Containment and Industrial Coatings solutions collaborated to develop an innovative design using an Ethylene Polymer PVC with Elvaloy® Technology Geomembrane liner and the BCI PolySeam® System. The patented spray-on liner system eliminates the need for excessive cuts and joins around liner penetrations. PolySeam also serves as an alternative to traditional batten bar attachment and creates a flexible, yet durable, seal along HDPE and Ethylene Polymer PVC with Elvaloy® Technology Geomembrane liner seams.

PolySeam® Secondary Containment System Installation Process

The existing HDPE liner was left in place for form a base for the new Ethylene Polymer PVC with Elvaloy® Technology Geomembrane liner

Rain initially hampered progress on site, since a dry surface is preferred to install a new liner. Once the weather cooperated, contractors removed the sump can from the pit and used a hydrovac truck to remove the existing stone. They left the existing HDPE liner in place to become the base for the new Ethylene Polymer PVC with Elvaloy® Technology Geomembrane liner. This saved contractor time and costs, while avoiding the problem of working on damp ground.

The installation began by power washing the transformer pad and existing HDPE to create a clean surface. Once completed, installers vacuumed out the remaining liquid. BCI applied the PolySeam liner to seal the transformer pad first. They supplemented the area around the base of the pad with geotextile fabric and sprayed accordingly.

A proprietary primer was applied to the Ethylene Polymer PVC with Elvaloy® Technology Geomembrane liner before sealing with PolySeam

Next, the team laid the Ethylene Polymer PVC with Elvaloy® Technology Geomembrane panels according to the pre-approved site drawing, hand welding the seams to provide a preliminary seal. BCI used their proprietary primer to ready the seams, followed by PolySeam to create a leak-proof join.

After a 24-hour curing period, the pit was ready to receive the stone filler and the much-awaited hydrostatic pressure test.

Performing the Hydrostatic Pressure Test

Performing the hydrostatic pressure test on the new oil containment liner system

Hydrostatic pressure tests are commonly performed to check components such as pipelines, boilers and other pressure vessels for strength and leaks. To pass the test, the pit could lose no more than 1-in. of water in a 24-hour period, after factoring in evaporation.

Once the pit was half filled with stone, the team added water up to an agreed height. They established a control box outside the pit to evaluate evaporation. They added water and measured the starting height. After 24 hours, they measured the height again. They found only ¼- in. of water loss taking evaporation into account. The success of the project even surpassed the utility operator’s high standards.

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Conclusion and Future Recommendations

BCI recommends the use of its VIPOR 100 SOWF system for drainage purposes for all transformer pits utilizing impervious liners. While many clients have automated sump pumps, there is a danger of pumping oil out of the sump and into a sewer system. The VIPOR 100 filters out clean water, but will shut off automatically upon detection of hydrocarbons thus keeping releases contained.

*Elvaloy® is a registered trademark of DuPont.

A Goldilocks Design for Secondary Oil Containment: Walls, Floor, Drainage

Anyone with children is familiar with the story of “Goldilocks and The Three Bears,” in which a young girl named Goldilocks stumbles into a house owned by three bears. She brazenly attempts to make herself comfortable by sitting in their chairs, laying in their beds, and even eating their food. In her quest, she finds the first and second choices are always too much in opposite extremes, but the third is always “just right.”

While a relatively weak story line, even for a children’s tale, it is the source of the Goldilocks Principle, a concept that states that something must fall into certain margins, as opposed to reaching extremes. This principle is applied across a number of disciplines, most notably in astrobiology (for instance, the Earth is referred to as a Goldilocks Planet, because it’s neither too hot nor too cold, or too wet or too dry – it is the ideal climate to support life as we know it). However, it is also applicable in developmental psychology, biology, economics and engineering.

With so many options to choose from for your transformer containment in the marketplace today, it can be a challenge to decide which solution is the best fit to protect your electrical substations and transformers. Though there are a number of variables that can affect your decision, discovering the solution that is just right is simpler than you’d expect, as long as it provides walls, a floor, and drainage for rainwater.

The main purpose of a substation is to step-up or step-down power so it can be consumed as part of the electrical generation, transmission and distribution system. Most substations include transformers to change the voltage levels between high transmission voltages and low distribution voltages. They are designed and built based on reliability and cost, in which the engineering team is focused more often on functionality than aesthetics. It is also the responsibility of the utility companies to protect the environment and the public from a potential oil spill. Facilities that have an aboveground oil storage capacity of 1,320 gallons or more, such as large electrical transformers that utilize oil for cooling, are subject to SPCC regulations (40 CFR Part 112), meaning they require transformer containment.

A Goldilocks Solution for Secondary Containment: Walls

Transformer containment in place

When challenged to create a transformer containment system that offers both aesthetic appeal as well as durability and efficiency, we partnered with Strongwell® Corporation to develop a Goldilocks solution that provides walls, floor and drainage that are all “just right.” Strongwell’s COMPOSOLITE® fiberglass walls offer a sleek and affordable alternative to concrete. Strong and corrosion-resistant, they are easily installed and require little on-going maintenance. Standard COMPOSOLITE panels are manufactured using a fire retardant polyester resin system in a slate gray color.

A Goldilocks Solution for Secondary Containment: Floor

Installing transformer containment floor

Combined with a Geomembrane Liner floor, which simultaneously serves as a lining and transformer containment solution for non-impervious soils, the chance of oil escaping the containment structure decreases dramatically. The liner should be covered with at least six inches of cleaned washed stone, to protect the liner from UV rays and punctures when walking over the area. The stone provides some fire protection as well.

A Goldilocks Solution for Secondary Containment: Drainage

Secondary containment with HFF Oil Stop Valve

Finally, for the system to function effectively, there must be a method to evacuate water from the transformer containment area. A drain should be installed in the lowest point of the containment area, to pipe rain and storm water to a vault approximately three to four feet outside of the walls. The vault houses an HFF Oil Stop Valve, which filters and processes waste water at a steady flow rate, and in the event of a significant oil discharge, will automatically shut off flow.

A Goldilocks Solution for Secondary Containment that is Just Right

As you can see, this system is just right for utilities. Not only does it put them in compliance with EPA’s Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Rule 112.7 and meets IEEE 980 Standards, they also reap the benefits of a low-cost, highly-effective, redundant system that provides both containment and drainage capabilities.

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Contact BCI Today for Your Goldilocks Secondary Containment System

BCI is an industry leader for providing secondary containment solutions for the electric utility industry. We’ll help design a system that meets or exceeds EPA and SPCC requirements. Contact us today for a quote.

Preventing Transformer and Substation Fires with Below-Grade Secondary Containment

Below-grade secondary containment solutions are able to remove two of the three elements in transformer and substation fire situations. Transformer fires are of serious concern, as they seem to happen more and more. Perhaps this is in part due to aging equipment in older substations, but that’s not always the case.

 

Substation & Transformer Fires Can Be Costly

On May 9, 2015, an electrical transformer at the Indian Point Energy Center, a nuclear plant located about 40 miles outside of New York City, caught fire. Though actions were swiftly taken to shut down the plant, an unknown amount was confirmed to have spilled into the Hudson River. That same day in Old Town Fort Collins, Colorado, a transformer housed underground caught fire in a bustling shopping and dining area, causing nearly all the businesses in the immediate vicinity to lose power for a couple hours. In Candor, North Carolina, a transformer exploded in the early morning hours of May 6, 2015, forcing nearly 2,000 Duke Energy customers to get ready for work … in the dark.

More recently, a transformer fire at Georgia Power in 2020 led to explosions throughout a nearby neighborhood, which was a danger to not only first responders, but innocent people in the area.  In the Norwalk area, an Eversource substation fire caused 13,000 people to go without power.

Transformer fires are of serious concern, as they seem to happen more and more. Perhaps this is in part due to aging equipment in older substations, but that’s not always the case. The transformer at Indian Point has only been in service since 2007. Though the number of transformers that catch fire vary by location and environment, a 2010 study by Berg & Fritze claimed 730 transformer explosions in the U.S. annually. T&D World Magazine estimated that 2.4% to 4% of all transformers can be expected to cause a fire during the average 40-year service life. Since oxygen, heat, and fuel, the three main components or elements necessary for a fire to burn (as illustrated in the FIRE TRIANGLE), are typically present when transformers fail or explode, that estimate could be very accurate.

Great Balls of Fire!

Fires at transmission and distribution substations present unique response challenges for fire fighters and first responders. The blazes are often a fearsome concoction of flames, heat, explosions, high-voltage electricity, oil ignition and dispersion, and possible harm to those fighting it, if they’re unaware of how to deal with a fire in electrical switchgear.

When on fire, the substation and the immediate vicinity around it create a hazardous environment. Substations generally contain transformers, energized electrical equipment and large quantities of oil, some of which may contain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). (At older substations that have not been or were unable to be retro filled, PCBs and other harmful contaminants may be present not only in the oil, but also in the water runoff and smoke.) As the fire heats up, porcelain bushings and capacitors could explode, adding flying shrapnel and flaming oil to an already chaotic scene.

For this reason, utilities are encouraged to take a proactive approach to mitigating hazardous and destructive fires, as outlined in the IEEE Standard P980—2013: Guide for Containment and Control of Oil Spills in Substations. Section 7.0 provides a guideline for containment with substations from fires, warning that in places where the oil-filled device is installed in an open pit (not filled with stone), there is the possibility of a pool fire. If the pooled oil catches on fire, the equipment will likely be destroyed.

It seems like it would be common sense for utilities to try to avoid the destruction of their important and expensive electrical equipment, but according to the 1992 IEEE survey, only a few utilities altered their secondary containment practices because of a pool fire possibility. Those that do address the concern employ active or passive quenching systems, or drain the oil to a remote pit. Active quenching systems include foam or water spray deluge systems; passive systems include pits filled with crushed stone, which tend to be the most common and effective fire quenching system.

Don’t Fight Fire with Fire

Above-grade containment units, such as this concrete pit, offer the ideal environment to ignite a hazardous fire

Most above grade level secondary containments, such as concrete pits, composite walls, or earthen berms, create a moat-like area within the containment that provides all of three of the elements vital for a successful transformer fire start and burn – oxygen, fuel and heat.

“The average temperature of a class B fire is roughly 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit,” says Anthony Natale, a Senior Specialist of the ConEdison Emergency Response Group and a leading expert on transformer fires. In fact, the heat – or more specifically, the rate at which heat is generated by fire, also called the heat release rate – is what really defines the size and intensity of a transformer fire.

 

A transformer burns at a substation in 2010

“The heat release rate looks at the size of the pool fire,” continues Natale. “The incidents that cause a transformer to tear open creating a large surface pool fire will generate considerably more heat.” The combination of pooled fuel, oxygen in the air, and heat creates an ideal environment for a violent inferno.

However, below-grade secondary containment solutions, like one of our Geomembrane Liner Systems, are able to remove two of the three elements in transformer fire situations. As the flaming oil passes downward through the stone, the stone cools the oil and ignition is lost. In addition, there isn’t enough oxygen present in the stone to support the flames. Therefore, the fire is quenched.

In passive systems with crushed stone, IEEE recommends no less than 12 inches of stone to extinguish the oil if on fire. Smaller stone is more effective, ¾ inch to 1½ inch is recommended. While larger stone permits quicker penetration by the oil, its size makes it less effective as a quenching stone. The Geomembrane Liner works best when backfilled with clean, washed stone free of dirt and fines, averaging ¾” to 1½” in size.

Backfilling with stone during an Installation of below-grade Geomembrane Liner with Barrier Boom System

Putting Out the Fire

Implementing fire quenching containment measures can also affect how long it takes first responders to contain the flames. “If you have an effective suppression system, it can be contained within 2 minutes,” says Natale. But, he warns not to place the suppression system too close to transformer. “The initial blast blows apart the system and water never reaches the fire but fills up your containment moat eventually carrying PCB laden oil away with it,” thus further damaging the environment.

For the past few years, Natale and the Emergency Response Group at ConEdison have lead a vigilant initiative to educate traditional fire operations in New York City on how to best attack fire in an electric station. “The main issue is that the fire services don’t see these often enough to be good at them,” he explains. “They are low frequency high hazard incidents. As such, they leave after the fire is out, not considering there are internal pockets of fire within the transformer still going.”

He cites the recent incident at Indian Point Energy Center as an example. “The bank reignited a short time later,” after the fire department had left the site.

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Contact BCI for Secondary Containment that Prevents Substation Fires

BCI is an industry leader for providing secondary containment solutions for the electric utility industry. We can provide site-specific below-grade containment systems for your substation transformers. Contact us today for a quote.

References

Utility Finds Quick and Easy SPCC-Compliant Oil Containment for Mobile Substation

Substation transformers should provide uninterrupted power flow. But, age, time and ever-increasing energy demands may cause problems. A major Texas utility discovered severe infrastructure issues with one of its substations. These issues could compromise its performance and reliability.

After weighing the options, the utility decided to rebuild it. This meant taking the substation offline during a year or more of construction. But how could they ensure all customers in the area would have power, without increasing the demands on the grid? The best solution was to reroute power through a temporary mobile substation.

A portable 69kV transformer and regulators arrived on a mobile trailer. Like permanent substations, these units need cooling oil to operate. Thus, they must meet SPCC requirements.

The utility wanted a versatile, low-maintenance secondary oil containment solution for its mobile substation transformer. Durability was also key. They decided to use a custom Rigid-Lock Fail-Safe QuickBerm®. Its single-piece construction allowed for fast and easy setup, with no assembly required – with a simple tug, the patented Rigid-Lock wall-supports locked quickly in place. And Fail-Safe® flotation devices on the entry and exit walls enabled drive-in and drive-out access for the trailer with no need to raise or lower the wall.

To avoid manual draining following a rainstorm, the utility connected a C.I.Agent HFF Oil Stop Valve to the berm. Not only did this provide continued unmonitored drainage without incurring O&M costs, it also ensured all water draining from the secondary containment area was free of oil.

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Contact BCI for Substation Transformer Spill Containment Solutions

BCI offers technical support for your secondary containment requirements. Our comprehensive line of spill containment berms can be customized to your specific needs. Contact us today or request a quote.

Top 4 Spill Containment Berms for the Oil and Gas Industry

The oil and gas industry processes large volumes of flammable and hazardous materials. This industrial sector has stringent safety and environmental controls. But, incidents still occur. Refineries, drilling rigs, pipeline networks and dispensers must all be equipped and prepared to handle spills and releases. News media

The oil and gas industry processes large volumes of flammable and hazardous materials. This industrial sector has stringent safety and environmental controls. But, incidents still occur. Refineries, drilling rigs, pipeline networks and dispensers must all be equipped and prepared to handle spills and releases.

News media often report the highest profile and visible incidents. But there are other small spills and releases that occur between major events. Maintaining vigilant standards helps prevent the larger events from taking place.

How Do Secondary Containment Requirements Affect the Oil and Gas Industry?

Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) is part of the Clean Water Act. It is mandated to prevent oil spills from reaching navigable waters. One of the primary ways to achieve this goal is to use spill containment berms. These capture spills at the point of release before they cause any environmental damage.

It is not only hydrocarbon spills that have severe consequences. The oil and gas industry also uses hazardous chemicals like sulfuric acid, caustic soda and hydrofluoric acid.

BCI supplies spill and oil containment berms for a wide variety of spill risks in the industry.

Secondary Containment Applications for Oil and Gas

1. Oil Containment for Loading and Unloading Trucks

Trucks arrive and depart continuously on oil and gas sites. A single truck contains as much as 5,000 gallons of product. Unloading and loading is a high-risk activity. Valve or hose failures, human error, and over pressurization all have the potential to cause a significant spill and environmental disaster.

best-secondary-containment-for-oil-gas-industry

Rigid-Lock Fail-Safe® QuickBerms® with ground mat and track mat accessories are ideal for truck loading zones. The ground mat prevents sharp objects from piercing the spill containment berm from below. At the same time, the track mat prevents sharp objects caught in tire treads from piercing it from above.

The QuickBerm itself provides a containment area sized according to the truck volumes. They have a robust construction and seamless welded joins. The Fail-Safe flotation device on entry and exit walls enable easy drive-through use. In an event of a spill, the self-erecting Fail-Safe rises as the fluid rises.

2. Oil Containment for Temporary Storage and Staging Areas

best-secondary-containment-for-oil-gas-industry

Workshops and maintenance areas need to keep oils, greases and other products available. Small staging or storage areas are present in many locations on a large oil and gas site. Spill risks come from moving containers, opening and closing, and dispensing.

Standard Rigid-Lock QuickBerms deploy quickly without the need for assembly. The single-piece construction is compact, and relocation is easy from one point to another. Patented Rigid-Lock wall-support system locks the walls at a full 90 degrees to provide unobstructed work space.

3. Spill Containment Berms for Removing Pumps for Maintenance

Maintenance requires removing equipment from the operation and transporting it to a workshop. But, pumps and other equipment in service contain product. There is a chance of spills when removing and dismantling.

best-secondary-containment-for-oil-gas-industry

The QuickBerm Lite is a suitable secondary containment solution for these applications. These berms are light and compact. Move them from one maintenance activity to another easily, as needed. Their low-profile design enables use even in tight spaces.

4. Secondary Containment for Hazmat Decontamination

best-secondary-containment-for-oil-gas-industry

The oil and gas industry uses toxic materials like sulfuric acid, HF acid and NaOH. There are strict procedures for entering and exiting areas containing these hazardous chemicals. But worker and emergency responders may still be exposed. If an incident occurs, emergency responders set up a protocol for decontamination.

Use Decon QuickBerms for washing down hazmat workers. They prevent any toxic materials from leaving the contaminated zone. These berms feature one, two or three sumps for segregating the decontamination process into steps.

Contact BCI for Secondary Containment Berms for the Oil and Gas Industry

BCI supplies secondary containment solutions to help oil and gas customers comply with SPCC regulations. Our fuel containment berms can help your jobsite avoid or lessen potential disasters to local ecosystems and local economies. Browse our product range here or contact us to request a quote.

Why Hazmat Decon Containment Berms Are Vital to Emergency Response Teams

Hazmat incidents are highly specialized events requiring trained responders with the right equipment. A hospital in Massachusetts admitted a patient who exhibited signs of exposure to a hazardous chemical. A decon team was called. They found the root cause to be pesticide exposure. To be safe, both the patient and emergency response personnel went through decontamination procedures.

Hazmat incidents are highly specialized events requiring trained responders with the right equipment. A hospital in Massachusetts admitted a patient who exhibited signs of exposure to a hazardous chemical. A decon team was called. They found the root cause to be pesticide exposure. To be safe, both the patient and emergency response personnel went through decontamination procedures.

A hazardous material release poses many environmental threats. It’s important to capture, contain and cleanup any contamination. Hazmat decon berms play a critical role in emergency response clean-up operations.

Who Uses Hazmat Decon Containment Berms?

Many industrial plants use hazardous chemicals for raw materials, intermediate products and final products. High levels of equipment integrity and safety protocols keep employees safe from exposure. But, there is always the risk of an unforeseen circumstance that causes a release. Hazmat emergency response teams at industrial plants train for these situations.

Fire department and emergency response teams respond to any kind of emergency. They encounter incidents of a domestic, industrial or commercial nature. If hazardous chemicals are present, they need relevant response equipment.

Some specialized emergency response teams train to respond to terror attacks. They must prepare for potential exposure to chemical warfare. They also respond to high-impact hazardous chemical events that put large numbers of the public at risk.

Emergency response teams must carry hazmat suits and decon equipment like containment berms.

How Do Hazmat Decon Containment Berms Work?

Emergency response personnel wash down inside the berm. It captures all hazardous chemicals for treatment and disposal. Others assist by scrubbing down the boots of emergency personnel. This ensures no contaminated material leaves the hazmat decon area.

BCI supplies decontamination berms constructed from lightweight PVC coated fabric. It resists chemical attack. They are watertight to prevent leaking hazardous chemicals into the environment. Multiple interior walls create washdown zones to accommodate different decon operations simultaneously. Optional plastic grating keeps personnel above any pooling chemicals in the berm.

What Hazmat Decon Containment Berms Should You Use?

BCI offers a line of easy-to-deploy Rigid-Lock Decon QuickBerms®. Patented internal walls, each with an inside brace support system, allow separation into 2-, 3- or 4-washdown zones. These berms are compatible with decontamination showers for a complete decontamination solution.

The lightweight Rigid-Lock QuickBerm Lite also deploys in seconds by a single person. Its 8-inch walls provide easy access when entering and exiting the decontamination zone. Add anti-slip Decon Grating to elevate personnel above the contaminated fluids.

Store compact Pop-Up Pools in tight spaces such as hazmat spill response kits. Use to quickly prevent hazardous chemicals from spreading and causing injury or environmental damage.

Contact BCI for Hazmat Decon Containment Berm Solutions

BCI supplies decon berms for hazmat emergency response. They are suitable for industrial, fire fighter and emergency response applications. Browse our decontamination berm product range here.

Top 3 Spill Containment Berms for Reducing Fertilizer Pollution

Fertilizers are an essential ingredient to successful agriculture. In soil, the right amount of fertilizer is healthy. But, too much fertilizer contaminates the environment. It has the potential to migrate into surface water damaging aquatic life. Water containing spilled fertilizer is unfit for human consumption. A swine farmer in Preble County, OH, experienced a 10,000-gallon liquid nitrogen fertilizer spill when a tank ruptured. A lined containment area captured most of the spill.

Fertilizers are an essential ingredient to successful agriculture. In soil, the right amount of fertilizer is healthy. But, too much fertilizer contaminates the environment. It has the potential to migrate into surface water damaging aquatic life. Water containing spilled fertilizer is unfit for human consumption.

A swine farmer in Preble County, OH, experienced a 10,000-gallon liquid nitrogen fertilizer spill when a tank ruptured. A lined containment area captured most of the spill. But, damage to the liner from the rupture resulted in 3,000 gallons of liquid nitrogen escaping. Quick action to excavate the surrounding area prevented serious harm. EPA investigators only found trace amounts of fertilizer in a nearby creek and in the farmer’s well.

This incident highlights how important spill containment can be. Here are 3 scenarios of agricultural-related spills and appropriate containment solutions to prevent fertilizer pollution:

1. Spill Berms for Bulk Fertilizer Storage Areas

Suppliers deliver fertilizer in bags on pallets, in totes or in tankers. Every farm has a receiving area containing the bulk of their fertilizer stocks. Handling of containers and the movement of machinery creates a risk of damage and a spill. Contain bulk fertilizer storage areas to prevent spills from reaching water sources.

Rigid-Lock FailSafe QuickBerm, 12-ft x 30-ft x 1-ft. Part No: BC3CF-RLFS-1230 SPILL BERM

Rigid-Lock® Fail-Safe QuickBerms® feature a heavy-duty construction that makes them suitable for this purpose. The standard product comes in sizes up to 14 feet by 56 feet by 1 foot. Custom configurations are also available on request. The patented Rigid-Lock wall-support system maintains the berm walls securely in position, without obstructing internal surface area.

2. Spill Berms for Loading Areas

Farmers transfer liquid fertilizer from totes to tractor vessels for spraying on fields. Due to the robust nature of farm work, fittings and hoses can fail at any time. If this happens during loading, a large liquid fertilizer spill could result.

Rigid-Lock QuickBerm Lite – 8-ft x 10-ft x 8-in. Part No: 1054-03658-106

The Rigid-Lock QuickBerm Lite is a portable and versatile containment berm. Place it underneath the loading vessel on a tractor for capturing leaks. Move the berm from one loading area to another as needed.

3. Spill Berms for Maintenance and Small Volume Storage

Farms cover large areas of land and equipment breakdown or spills can happen anywhere and at any time. Farmers need temporary containment areas that are easy to transport and move. They may need a place to hold a few fertilizer bags or to put contaminated fittings and hoses while repairs are in progress.

Maintenance Spill Pads, 2-ft x 8-ft x 4-in. Part No: 2004-02605-106

Maintenance spill pads are the solution to this problem. They fold up easily for transport and do not require any setup. A heavy-duty 30-ounce modified vinyl material is tough enough for farm conditions.

Reduce Fertilizer Pollution with BCI Spill Containment Berms

BCI supplies all kinds of containment solutions for minimizing fertilizer pollution. Browse our product range here. Our technical experts also provide advice for solving your fertilizer spill containment problems. We help you stay compliant by protecting water sources from fertilizer contamination.

References

What Spill Containment Berms Should You Use for Petroleum, Oil and Lubricant (POL) Storage Areas?

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Petroleum, Oil and Lubricant (POL) storage areas are common in the manufacturing industry and government facilities. POL products keep equipment and vehicles running and in good condition. This creates the need for storage close to operating and maintenance areas. But, storing IBCs, drums or totes of hydrocarbon products is subject to regulations like the SPCC rule. The EPA fines companies that fail to provide secondary containment.

Petroleum, Oil and Lubricant (POL) storage areas are common in the manufacturing industry and government facilities. POL products keep equipment and vehicles running and in good condition. This creates the need for storage close to operating and maintenance areas. But, storing IBCs, drums or totes of hydrocarbon products is subject to regulations like the SPCC rule. The EPA fines companies that fail to provide secondary containment.

Basic Concepts supplies oil containment solutions to the manufacturing and government sectors. Our robust line of QuickBerm® products help meet your spill containment needs.

Versatile, Dependable Oil Containment: Rigid-Lock QuickBerm

Reducing the size of POL storage areas makes sense for many reasons. It lowers the stock levels and operating costs on the site. It also reduces the risk of a major environmental or safety incident. Operators maintain a central warehouse with smaller POL areas close to the work site.

Rigid-Lock QuickBerms provide suitable oil containment for these smaller onsite stores. Their robust design enables forklift access by driving over the wall. Operators can leave down side walls during loading and unloading. Rigid-Lock Fail-Safe® QuickBerms feature a failsafe flotation device. It auto-deploys and raises the sides in the case of a leak.

Durable and Tough Oil Containment: Industrial Inside Support QuickBerm

In some situations, a POL storage area may be irregularly shaped. Custom Industrial Inside Support QuickBerms meet this need. Their lightweight material and collapsible walls make them easy to deploy in minutes. Move and adjust as your changing POL storage needs dictate.

Inside Support QuickBerms feature a one-piece construction, allowing them to fold away into a small size. Heavy-duty aluminum wall supports help avoid damage from vehicle traffic.

More Spill Containment Solutions

Emergency Oil Containment: Rigid-Lock QuickBerm Lite

Spill berms are important in emergency situations. Every POL storage area should have at least one Rigid-Lock QuickBerm Lite available for quick deployment. Place underneath fuel tanks when refueling to capture spills or sudden leaks. The same principle applies when changing oil. Its leak-proof vinyl-coated fabric will withstand the effects of hydrocarbon chemicals.

Portable and versatile, the QuickBerm Lite is a perfect on-the-go spill containment berm. It folds down to a compact size for transporting in vehicles or storing with spill kits.

Contact BCI Today to Purchase Spill Berms for POL Storage

BCI offers technical support and a variety of oil containment products for POL storage areas. Our track record of protecting people and the environment extends more than 25 years. Let us use our experience in the manufacturing and government sectors to resolve your secondary containment needs.

For military customers, all products have unique National Stock Numbers (NSN). Learn more about military applications or contact us for NSN information.

Does Your Construction Worksite Need Spill Containment?

Managing spills on construction sites is difficult, especially in remote areas. Every site is, by nature, temporary and evolving. The EPA developed a planning guide to help construction companies understand applicable regulations. This resource also provides guidance on what they must do to comply.

Managing spills on construction sites is difficult, especially in remote areas. Every site is, by nature, temporary and evolving. The EPA developed a planning guide to help construction companies understand applicable regulations. This resource also provides guidance on what they must do to comply.

Secondary Containment Requirements for Construction Activities

The planning guide highlights two main regulatory codes that apply to construction activities.

Secondary Containment Requirements: Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plan

As part of the Clean Water Act, SPCC and it regulates companies that store, use, transport and handle oil. Large construction sites keep large volumes of fuel and hydraulic oils on site. If the above ground storage capacity of oil on your construction site exceeds 1,320 gallons of oil and there is a reasonable expectation (based on site location) that a spill could reach navigable waters of the U.S., then this rule applies to you.

Secondary Containment Requirements: Construction and Development Effluent Guidelines

The Construction and Development Effluent Guidelines apply to construction sites that disturb more than an acre of ground. It also applies to smaller plots that are part of a bigger construction development. Under these guidelines companies must obtain an NPDES storm water construction general permit. Part of the permit process is developing a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) for the site. This plan should include spill prevention and response procedures.

Even if your site isn’t required to develop an SPCC or SWPPP plan, you still carry responsibility to protect the environment from spills. The EPA has the power to fine or even stop work activities if you negatively impact the environment.

SPCC Regulations

Spill Containment Options for Construction Sites

Fuel and oil storage areas are a potential source of spill. Whether you use bulk tanks, IBC’s or drums, secondary containment is essential to contain a spill. Rigid-Lock QuickBerms are easy to setup as storage areas. Forklifts can drive over the sidewalls to place pallets inside the containment area.

Standing equipment like generators and compressors are another source of spills. Place the equipment inside a secondary containment area to contain small drips or major leaks. Due to its heavy-duty design, the Rigid-Lock QuickBerm is also recommended for this application.

Cleaning equipment by washing it down with high pressure water generates dirty water. Traces of oil and grease get washed off the construction machinery into this water. Left uncontained and untreated, this water will contaminate the storm water and groundwater of the site. Wash Down Berms capture effluent water before it reaches the environment.

Order Your Construction Site Spill Containment Today

BCI offers technical support and spill containment products for the construction industry. We supply a comprehensive range of collapsible spill berms and customize our products to fit your needs. Find out more about how we can help you meet secondary containment requirements here.

References

4 Spill Containment Berms for Military Use

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The U.S. Armed Forces operate in extreme conditions like the remote landscapes of Afghanistan and the Middle East. They also respond to local threats, such as an anthrax scare in Washington D.C. As a federally-funded entity, the military is under constant public scrutiny. They cannot afford an environmental incident or injury to soldiers in the course of responding to an emergency.

To fulfill their responsibilities and keep soldiers safe, the U.S. military needs equipment designed for military conditions that meets military standards. Spill containment berms and systems prevent fuel spills from reaching the environment.

Types of Spill Containment Berms Used by the Military:

1. Rigid-Lock Fail-Safe® QuickBerm®

Rigid-Lock Fail-Safe QuickBerms feature a heavy-duty berm construction. They provide long-term spill containment for vehicles, heavy equipment, tankers and more. Made from chemical resistant fabric, their reinforced corners prevent seam leaks.

Stainless steel braces support the wall at a full 90-degree locked position. We build our braces into the wall to maximize usable space and reduce tripping hazards. Push the brackets down to unlock the support. Each end wall has a Fail-Safe flotation device that allows users to leave the wall in the down position. Fluid pressure pushes it upright in the case of a spill.

2. Rigid Containment System™

The Rigid Containment System is a rugged, leak-proof steel containment. Military units use it for heavy-duty equipment like fuel trucks and fuel pods. A corrosion-resistant coating protects the system from chemical damage and will not delaminate from the steel plate.

The Rigid Containment Systems’ single-piece berm construction eliminates the need for assembly. Positioning and moving a Rigid Containment System is as easy as picking it up and putting it down somewhere else. Optional integrated ramps make it easy to drive equipment directly onto it.

3. Modular Channel QuickBerm

The Modular Channel QuickBerm is a portable, liquid-tight spill containment berm for hoses and pipes. Numerous components make assembly easy for any configuration. Lay a Modular Channel QuickBerm to match the desired pipe layout. Channel pieces come in standard 4-ft. widths but are customizable if necessary.

Inclined leg supports rise only 1-1/2-inches from the ground. They lock the wall, which stands 8-in. high in a 90-degree vertical position. Component pieces join together using tongue and groove closures to form a liquid-tight seal.

4. All-Terrain Berm™

Use All-Terrain Berms to contain fuel bags, metal storage tanks, transformers, waste materials and other products. Five people or less can assemble it in less than an hour – even when the terrain is challenging and uneven.

Three-foot-tall walls with protection against splash-out provide adequate spill containment for a variety of storage vessels. Aluminum A-frame supports provide flexibility and security.

Order Your Spill Containment Berm for the Military Today

Basic Concepts Inc. is a trusted supplier of the U.S. Armed Forces. We provide spill containment berms that can be used in the most remote and extreme situations. Learn more about our military spill containment products.

Each product we supply to the military has a unique National Stock Number (NSN). These numbers apply internationally to make ordering easy and uniform across any country location. Contact us to receive expert advice for your military spill containment needs.

Spill Containment Berms: How to Calculate the Correct Capacity

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Secondary containment requirements are regulated by Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) rules. SPCC applies to facilities with a total aboveground oil storage capacity of greater than 1,320 U.S. gallons or 42,000 U.S. gallons of buried storage capacity. When making a site capacity assessment, include every container of 55 U.S. gallons or more.

Secondary containment requirements are regulated by Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) rules. SPCC applies to facilities with a total aboveground oil storage capacity of greater than 1,320 U.S. gallons or 42,000 U.S. gallons of buried storage capacity. When making a site capacity assessment, include every container of 55 U.S. gallons or more.

All types of hydrocarbon-based oils are subject to SPCC regulations. This includes petroleum, fuel oil, sludge, oil refuse, fats, animal and vegetable oils, synthetic and mineral oils. Industries covered by SPCC include on and offshore drilling platforms, oil derricks and oil rigs, oil refineries, railroad car and truck oil tankers and their loading areas, oil pipelines and some waste treatment facilities. However, SPCC excludes transportation related facilities.

The regulations specify that secondary containment must have the capacity to capture the full contents of the largest vessel in the containment area, plus a freeboard volume to account for any precipitation during a spill. Freeboard of approximately 10 percent is usually adequate.

Spill Containment Berms: How to Calculate Volume

Calculating a spill containment berm size for your application is simple. Just follow these 6 steps:

  1. List the containers that will be in the secondary containment area.
  2. Determine the volume of the largest single container in the list – then add 10 percent freeboard volume.
  3. Convert the gallon volume into cubic feet units. (cubic feet = gallons / 7.48)
  4. Use the berm wall height to convert your volume measurement into an area required. (area = volume / height)
  5. Calculate a length and breadth that fits into the available workspace.
  6. Select a standard berm that meets your calculated needs.

Spill Containment Berms: A Case Study

An oil refinery has a loading area for trucks to pick up products for delivery. The area requires secondary containment large enough to capture the entire contents of the truck in the case of a spill. Let’s calculate the correct spill containment berm size by following the steps above:

  1. While a number of different trucks use this loading area, the maximum truck size is a 5,000 gallon tanker.
  2. Adding the 10 percent freeboard volume results in a total secondary containment volume of 5,500 U.S. gallons.
  3. Convert the volume to cubic feet: 5,500 / 7.48 = 735.29 cubic feet.
  4. Assuming we want a standard berm wall height of 1 foot, calculate the required area: 735.29 / 1 = 735.29 square feet.
  5. A 5,000 gallon tanker has a width of approximately 10 feet. Select a berm width of 14 feet for to accommodate a leaking tanker. Calculate the minimum length required: 735.29 / 14 = 52.52 feet.
  6. A quick glance at the standard berm sizes on the BCI website leads to the selection of a 14 feet x 54 feet x 1 foot Rigid-Lock Fail-Safe QuickBerm® for this loading area.

If you’re in a hurry and need to know what size berm to use with tankers of different capacities, check out our QuickBerm Comparison Chart. It details the recommended Rigid-Lock Fail-Safe® QuickBerm sizes for commonly sized tanker trucks.

Spill Containment Berms: Customized Solutions

Sometimes, spill containment berms just don’t fit into the required secondary containment areas, due to oddly shaped rooms or applications. BCI offers customized berm solutions to fit your exact specifications. Custom berms range from small berms for hard-to-reach spill control, to extremely large spill berms for military applications.

Order Spill Containment Berms from BCI Today

BCI offers technical support for your secondary containment requirements. We supply a comprehensive range of collapsible berms for spill containment and customize our products to fit your needs. Contact us today for more information.

References

6 Tips for Complying with SPCC Regulations

spcc-compliance-and-regulations

For centuries, humans contaminated drinking water with raw sewage, unaware that such actions were the source of diseases like cholera and typhoid. Large factories and manufacturing plants that exploded into the scene during the Industrial Revolution poured pollutants directly into rivers and streams, because it was convenient and they didn’t know any better. The Cuyahoga River fire of 1969 and subsequent negative national media coverage finally inspired the Clean Water Act (CWA) to reduce water pollution.

The CWA embodied a new federal-state partnership. Federal guidelines, objectives and limits were set under the authority of the U.S. EPA. Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) is part of the CWA found in 40 CFR 112. Designed to prevent oil discharges from reaching navigable waters of the U.S. or adjoining shorelines, SPCC regulates any site that stores, processes, refines, uses or consumes oil.

Three criteria for a facility to be subject to SPCC regulations include:

  • Non-transportation-related facility that handles oil or oil products
  • Stores more than 1,320 gallons of oil above ground or more than 42,000 gallons below ground
  • Has a reasonable expectation of discharge into navigable waters (or adjoining shorelines)

To ensure compliance, develop an SPCC plan for your facility. This describes how your facility will prevent, respond to and control spill events. If an incident occurs, EPA inspectors evaluate your performance against your SPCC plan.

The following 5 tips highlight key elements of a plan and how to put them into practice:

SPCC Regulation Compliance: Tip 1

Create an SPCC Plot Plan Showing Storage Locations and Volumes

An SPCC plot plan helps identify high risk areas and develop control and countermeasures. To prevent and control spills, document all potential spill sources. The plot plan should detail storage locations, material in storage and volumes.

This information is also critical for emergency response. Responders need to know the site layout and the materials they will encounter. Include the contact details of key spill management personnel on the plot plan.

SPCC Regulation Compliance: Tip 2

Calculate Potential Spill Volumes and Flow Rates

Develop scenarios to determine where the risks exist in your facility. How much oil is stored on site? Which material has the greatest environmental impact? Which tankage and piping system is aging and requires special attention? Which storage location is closest to navigable waters?

SPCC Regulation Compliance: Tip 3

Develop Inspection Plans, Procedures and Record Keeping

Catching a leak early is critical to prevent contamination of waterways. Routine inspection programs with accurate record keeping are a preventative measure

Inspect tankage and piping for leaks. Check secondary containment areas to see if they contain product. Regularly monitor fuel and filling processes along with the associated equipment.

SPCC Regulation Compliance: Tip 4

Train Employees

Every employee should know what hazardous materials are used on the site. They should also understand the reporting procedure in the case of a spill.

Train those required to respond to a spill. They need to know how to handle the spill response equipment and how to use the personal protective equipment (PPE).

Also, regularly review training materials to ensure all employees know how to perform their duties in a way that minimizes the potential for spills.

SPCC Regulation Compliance: Tip 5

Implement Discharge Prevention Measures

Develop procedures that cover routine daily tasks and abnormal operations. This is particularly important for operations involving oils, like loading and unloading. Another high-risk function is the release of water from secondary containment areas.

SPCC Regulation Compliance: Tip 6

Use and Document Secondary Containment Systems

Secondary containment systems contain oil spills in one location until cleaning can occur. Passive secondary containment systems do not need human intervention to contain a spill. Examples of passive systems include flexible containment berms such as Basic Concepts’ patented Rigid-Lock QuickBerm®. Chemical and abrasion resistant, it can be used for a variety of containment applications. With no assembly required, it is the most user-friendly designed spill containment berm on the market.

Active secondary containment requires people to take some action for spill containment. Due to staff shortages and lack of resources, active containment is not appropriate for all situations. Placing Storm Water Drain Covers over a storm water drain as a last defense to prevent run-off is an example of active containment. Using a Spill Kit for spill response is also active containment.

Order BCI Spill Containment Products to Comply with SPCC Regulations Today

BCI offers technical support for your SPCC requirements. We supply a comprehensive range of collapsible berms for spill containment and customize our products to fit your needs.

References

 

SPCC Regulations

Protect Workers with Temporary Noise Reduction Barriers

noise-reduction-barrier-provides-noise-control

Did you know that 22 million workers each year suffer damaged hearing due to noise pollution?

The U.S. Department of Labor reports that companies paid penalties up to $1.5 million in a single year for not protecting their workers from noise. Hearing loss disability accounts for an estimated $242 million annually.

High noise pollution levels damage the health of workers and can result in heavy fines if noise control measures are not put in place. Noise reducing barriers and curtains solve both these challenges for companies.

What Noise Levels are too High?

The decibel value range (dBA) measures the relative loudness of sounds as perceived by the human ear. Every change of 10dBA represents a doubling of perceived sound volume. An office conversation takes place at about 60dBA. A food blender generates 90dBA of noise at three feet distance. This means that a blender sounds eight times louder than an office conversation.

Mechanical and industrial equipment generate high volume noise. A flat saw cutting a concrete slab has a decibel value of 110dBA, which is the same as a jet flying overhead at 1000 feet.

Noise Reduction Barriers and Curtains

BCI Noise Reduction Barriers provide noise control by addressing the issue at the source. They absorb sound energy and keep noise from affecting surrounding workers or bystanders.

Composed of lightweight, fully waterproof and fire-retardant material, noise reduction barriers are easy to install on fencing or any similar structure. One or two qualified people are enough to erect a noise reducing barrier or curtain around any noise source. The hook and loop fasteners allow almost no noise to pass through joins from one sound barrier to the next.

Using a BCI Noise Reducing Barrier lowers the decibel reading of a flat saw cutting a slab by half. Instead of sounding like a jet at 1000 feet, it sounds like a gas-powered lawnmower. A 90-lb. jackhammer surrounded by noise reducing barriers sounds more like a kitchen blender.

An Opportunity in Construction Equipment Rental with Noise Barriers

Statistics show that construction companies rent 40% of the equipment they use and that number could rise in future. Potential rental items include everything from forklifts and graders to smaller compacting machinery. Many of these items produce enough noise to damage the ears of users and bystanders.

Without noise reducing barriers, construction companies have limited options to solve noise pollution:

  • Use smaller equipment to lower the noise (but extend the duration of the job)
  • Move the noisy equipment as far away from people as possible
  • Work after hours to avoid affecting office staff with the noise

But, what if equipment rental companies rented out noise reducing barriers along with their equipment?

Noise reducing curtains come in single panels for small areas. Sound reducing quilts come in three panel lengths and are suitable to enclose a larger area. These products can be packaged and rented along with construction equipment to offer noise control.

Adding noise reducing barriers to their offerings will add income to equipment rental companies. It will also educate the construction industry about the hazards of noise pollution. Making noise reducing barriers available can improve occupational health across the whole industry.

More Spill Containment Solutions

Provide Noise Control for your Customers Today

BCI offers a comprehensive range of sound barriers. Our versatile Soundex® noise control barriers, curtains and quilts provide the perfect solution to noise pollution. Contact us today to add noise reduction barriers to your product offerings.

 

References

Taking a Closer Look at Spill Containment Berms

collapsible-spill-containment-berm

Oil spills spread rapidly, especially when they reach open water. A spill as small as one gallon of used motor oil contaminates one million gallons of fresh water. The environmental consequences of uncontained spills are horrific.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also imposes penalties for harming the environment. They fined a railroad company $600,000 in 2016 for multiple offenses. Part of the remedial action required was to install secondary containment at their rail yards.

Why Do You Need Flexible Spill Containment Berms?

The EPA sets guidelines, objectives and limits for The Clean Water Act (CWA). Their aim is to keep oil and oil-related materials out of our water.

The Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) rule forms part of the CWA. SPCC regulations govern all sites that use, process, store or consume oil except transportation companies. It requires effective and proactive measures in response to an oil discharge. If above ground storage capacity exceeds 1,320 gallons, each container above 55 gallons must have secondary containment.

Applications for Collapsible Spill Containment Berms

Wherever a truck is loading or unloading hazardous chemicals on your site, you need spill containment. Trucks park in the spill containment berm during loading and unloading. Remote areas where no permanent spill containment berms are in place use collapsible berms. This also applies to refueling. If an incident occurs during refueling, the spill containment berm will control the spill.

Store pallets of portable drums in collapsible spill containment berms. They will contain a leak from any of the drums. Spill containment berms come in different sizes and configurations to enable customized storage areas. Collapsible berms even protect the contents of large, upright tanks. SPCC requires that berms are sized to capture the contents of the tank along with expected rainfall.

Power utility companies use secondary containment for transformers because they contain oil. During maintenance activities, oil spills may escape into the environment. Collapsible berms prevent this from happening. Use spill containment berms as temporary or permanent installations to protect against transformer oil leaks.

The applications for collapsible berms are endless. They prevent oil and grease from leaving a vehicle wash down. Emergency services decontaminate response personnel in decon berms. Laboratories use berms to store hazardous chemicals. Industrial warehouses set up storage locations using collapsible berms.

More Spill Containment Solutions

QuickBerm®

QuickBerm® is a highly flexible and collapsible spill containment berm. The single piece design is easy to setup – just tug on the wall and allow the inside braces to rest on the floor. Wrap-around diagonal radio frequency welds on the corners ensure leakproof operation.

There are no exterior support braces on QuickBerm®. This means that it has the smallest footprint to sump area ratio. Place a QuickBerm® directly alongside a wall to save space.

collapsible-spill-containment-berms

Rigid-Lock QuickBerm®

The Rigid-Lock QuickBerm® is a patented spill containment berm with rigid support braces that lock into position. Stainless steel braces are two feet apart and lock at 90 degrees. Erect the berm easily by pulling up the side walls. Pushing down on the wall unlocks the support for vehicle access.

A great advantage of Rigid-Lock QuickBerm® is its robustness. Moderate to heavy vehicles cause no damage as they drive over the berm into position.

Purchase a BCI Spill Containment Berm Today

BCI offers a comprehensive range of collapsible spill containment berms. We customize our products to meet your needs. Fill in this contact form and one of our professional sales associates will contact you.

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Custom Order Request Form

Basic Concepts has the ability to customize our products for many of your specific applications. Whatever your requirements, our custom solution will be durable enough for the most stringent spill control requirements. We are committed to providing the best solution for your needs. We will be happy to customize this or any other spill berm to satisfy any of your size requirements and applications.


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