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FAQs by Section:    What is Secondary Containment?   |   How to Control Drips and Drops?   |   When would dewatering and filtration systems be used?   |   When does the military use secondary containment?


What is Secondary Containment?

With 70,000 + estimated substations in the United States, many do not have secondary oil containment or SPCC contingency plans in case of a catastrophic oil release.

Primary containment can consist of storage tanks, pipes, transportation vessels or other equipment used to store or transfer materials such as oil or other chemicals.

Primary containers can be designed with secondary containment that can include physical barriers, filtration and overflow systems.

The main function of backup or secondary fuel containment systems is to ensure that any discharge from the primary containment will not escape onto walls, floor or other part of the environment before a successful cleanup. 

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What Are the Requirements for Secondary Containment?

Under the authority of the Clean Water Act, the Oil Pollution Prevention Regulation set requirements for the prevention of, preparedness for and response to oil discharges at non-transportation-related facilities, with the goal of containing oil discharges and prevent oil from contaminating navigable waters. 

In addition, the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) requirements of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency includes the “SPCC Rule,” which defines several classes of oil storage and requires either secondary containment or oil spill contingency plans (OSCPs) for bulk oil storage containers. 

The EPA presents requirements for secondary containment in its hazardous waste storage regulation 40 CFR 264.175. This requires that a secondary containment system be impervious, free of gaps or cracks and compatible with the material being stored. It must have either a sloped design or a means for quick removal of leaking or spilled material. 

The system must either prevent precipitation or run-on from entering or have capacity to contain it during heavy rainfall or equivalent conditions.

Material leaked or spilled into the secondary containment area must be removed as quickly as possible to avoid overflow and potential environmental contamination. 

Tanks and their containment systems must be regularly inspected for signs of leakage, damage and deterioration.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Standard 980 reviews oil spillage regulations for electric supply substations and describes designs and materials for oil containment and control methods as well as dewatering systems. State and local requirements can also provide additional specifications for secondary containment.

Common Questions About Secondary Containment

How do you calculate secondary containment? The required volume of a secondary containment system is often calculated based on the primary containment capacity. 

The EPA requires secondary containment to have capacity for at least 10 percent of the total volume of the primary container or 100 percent of the volume of the largest container, whichever is larger. The EPA provides resources for calculating the necessary containment volume in applications such as a square or rectangular berm for a single vertical cylindrical storage tank.

SPCC requirements apply to facilities that have either a total aboveground oil storage capacity of greater than 1,320 gallons or a total buried storage capacity of greater than 42,000 gallons. Calculate this amount based on the shell capacity, or maximum volume, of the containers, not the current amount of product, or operational volume.

Do double-walled tanks need secondary containment? Double-walled above-ground storage tanks (ASTs) qualify as secondary containment under certain EPA requirements, such as having overfill prevention measures and being constructed of approved materials.

Do 55-gallon drums need secondary containment? Secondary containment needs to be at least equal to the capacity of the original container, so a single 55-gallon drum, stored indoors, would need 66 gallons of containment capacity. With multiple drums, however, you may only need containment the size of the largest container. Four drums on a single containment pallet would still only require 66 gallons of containment capacity.

Solutions for Secondary Containment

There are multiple potential solutions for secondary containment requirements, depending on the storage needs. 

Physical barriers such as raised berms provide one method of fuel containment. Booms are floating barriers, often made of metal or plastic, designed to contain oil and prevent its spread. They can often be placed between the primary storage and a nearby body of water. 

Filtration can be used in tandem with containment systems. If wastewater passes through a filtration system, the filter can capture contaminants such as different levels of oil sheen.

Hybrid containment combines filtration with other forms of secondary containment.

If a containment system fails, repairing the existing containment can be more cost effective than replacing it outright. Spray coatings can be applied to second containment substrates to protect them from chemical damage and degradation. They can also be used to seal cracks, stop leaks and make other repairs.


How to Control Drips and Drops?

Drip Pads Contain Hazardous Waste and Eliminate Concrete Staining

Drip pads are designed to capture small oil leaks that are common from vehicles before they contaminate the ground or create unsafe work surfaces.

Military installations with hangars, garages or maintenance facilities often must accommodate a large concentration of vehicles and other equipment, which can be subject to oil and fuel leaks over time. One U.S. Army base in Seoul, Korea, saw 84 oil leaks between 1990 and 2015, including seven leaks of more than 1,000 gallons of oil apiece.

Drip Pads for Hazardous Waste Containment

A drip pad can be the first line of defense in containing oil, chemicals or other hazardous waste as it can capture small leaks before they contaminate the ground or create an unsafe work surface while ensuring environmental compliance.

Many effective oil drip pads are designed from UV and chemical resistant, modified PVC. They can consist of oil-only sorbents within a leak-proof barrier, as opposed to pads designed to absorb water or other materials. (These are not to be mistaken for concrete drip pads that are engineered structures designed to convey excess drippage or precipitation to an associated collection system.)

Weighted oil drip pads can serve as part of portable containment systems for equipment and machinery. Drip pads can be positioned and anchored under engines, leaky valves and other areas prone to leaks. Different sized drip pads can accommodate larger or smaller leaks.

Why Use Drip Pads?

Sorbent drip pads can ensure that a military installation is in compliance with regulations and minimize the impact of an oil or fuel spill on the surrounding environment. 

According to the EPA, an oil spill may represent a threat to public health based on the size and nature of the oil discharge and its proximity to human populations and sensitive environments.

The EPA regulation for Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) includes a requirement for general secondary containment, including sorbent materials or drip pans, for mobile refuelers, tanker trucks and locations where oil is transferred to and from containers. Containment can also be required for oil-filled electrical or operating equipment such as lubricating systems or transformers.

Oil stains can cause damage and disruptions to a workspace. Standing oil from a leak or spill can increase the risk that a worker will slip and fall or otherwise be injured on the job. Oil spills can also leave unsightly stains on concrete or other surfaces, which must be removed if the surface needs a fresh coating or sealant.

In addition, deep oil spots on asphalt can cause the material to become softer and more prone to damage over time.

Oil spills and stains should be removed from concrete or another surface as quickly as possible. Drip pads can limit or prevent spilled oil from contacting the surface.

Which Drip Pads Are Best for the Military?

Facilities that contain or use oil in large quantities should stock oil spill kits for cleanup. Spill kits serve as a form of containment for facilities that must comply with SPCC regulations for oil or hazardous waste. Oil spill kits generally contain absorbent pads and mats, protective clothing, waste-handling bags and other items useful for cleaning up the spilled area.

drip bermsAs an example of a military policy regarding oil spills, the U.S. Army’s policy is to prevent spills or oil and other hazardous substances and to respond rapidly when spills occur. 

Military spill kit requirements for maintenance facilities include universal absorbent pads, while the recommended spill kit inventory for field exercises includes synthetic polyethylene absorbent pads and biodegradable cotton absorbent pads. According to the requirements, during cleanup absorbent pads and rags must be placed in clear, durable trash bags for proper disposal. 

Containment equipment such as drip pads or pans can be required for oil leaks designated as Class III, which involves formation of drips that fall to the ground.

Basic Concepts for Military Use

The best oil drip pads for military installations can be used quickly and effectively to ensure compliance with environmental regulations while containing fuel spills and other hazardous materials. Hazardous waste drip pads designed for durability can withstand the wear and tear of military applications while ensuring that a facility lives up to the most discerning standards of cleanliness and efficiency. 

These drip pads feature replaceable, oil-only sorbent within a welded leak-proof barrier. Rated for drive-over applications, pads include brass grommets in opposing corners for anchoring. Anchoring stakes not included. Pads come in two sizes; extended model is weighted to keep it down in high winds. Outer shell is reusable with optional refill sorbent packs. Helps comply with EPA and SPCC.

Basic Concepts drip pads are made from UV and chemical resistant modified PVC. Available in different sizes to meet user requirements.


When would dewatering and filtration systems be used?

Dewatering and filtration systems are designed to prevent contaminants found in water runoff and accumulations from having a deleterious impact on the environment. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Clean Water Act requires facilities to implement countermeasures that filter out oil, hydrocarbons and other substances in order to protect navigable waterways. 

Sections 112.8(c)(3) and 112.12(c)(3) of the code of federal regulations also require that facilities be regularly inspected for the presence of substances that are considered harmful to the environment. In order to comply with regulatory requirements, countermeasures should be implemented in water storage or accumulation sites.

Basic Concepts is the industry leader in dewatering and filtration solutions for industrial, commercial and military facilities. We offer a wide selection of dewatering equipment that will protect personnel and assets from contaminants as well as enable facilities to comply with regulatory requirements. To help you find the equipment that is right for you, here is an overview of some of the dewatering and filtration products from Basic Concepts.

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Dewater Solutions from Basic Concepts

Hydrocarbon testing kits are test strips that are designed to detect the presence of oil in water accumulations. When these strips are placed into water suspected of containing contaminants, the light-blue strips will turn dark blue if hydrocarbons are present.

The detection strips are ideal for elevator shafts, underground utility vaults, maintenance holes or any context where water needs to be tested for pollutants. Because they are designed to help facilities identify harmful materials, hydrocarbon detection strips are a useful tool that can help facilities comply with an SPCC prevention plan.

VIPOR system from Basic Concepts is an automatic dewatering system that filters and evacuates water from secondary containment units, vaults and sumps. The VIPOR system uses filters that are designed to trap sediment and hydrocarbons while allowing water to pass through. Unlike other dewatering systems, the VIPOR system can also polish and capture oil sheen from water runoff.

Oil Solidifying Polymers is a flagship product from Basic Concepts which is an integral component for many of our other oil-filtration systems. Oil Solidifiers from Basic Concepts are the only polymers that are designed to work on a full spectrum of hydrocarbons. In addition to reliable oil filtration, polymers from BCI are completely recyclable.

Agent X is a smart geotextile fabric that traps oil and hydrocarbons but allows water to filter through unimpeded. Oil-solidifying polymers embedded into the layers of the Agent X fabric enable it to trap contaminants. The Agent X fabric is ideal for land and water oil-filtration applications and can be used as a total secondary containment system component.

EVAC dewatering and filtration systems absorb hydrocarbons, remove large and fine sediment and eliminate the need for large vacuum trucks or other water-processing equipment. The EVAC system is ideal for removing suspended solids and light sheen from wastewater in underground vaults, maintenance holes, elevator shafts, bilges and more. 

The EVAC filtration systems are a cost-effective alternative to processing and disposing of oil-contaminated water. Unlike larger and more expensive filtration equipment, the EVAC system can be kept on-site and be deployed immediately in response to a dewatering situation. 

Find the Secondary Containment Solutions that are Right for You

For over 30 years, Basic Concepts has provided industries all over the world with the secondary containment solutions they need to protect personnel and achieve regulatory compliance. Whether you need an automatic dewatering system for an underground vault or a geotextile that will filter out oil and hydrocarbons, we have a wide range of containment products designed for a variety of applications. Take a look at our secondary containment options and find the product that is right for you. 


When does the military use secondary containment?

Battle and field tested spill containment technology that you can trust. Spill containment HEMTT berms, pillow tanks, and fuel bladder containment for fuel and gas containment meets SPCC regulations.

Basic Concepts has been a go to resource for the United States Military for more than 20 years. The design and build of our portable spill containment products are often the result of extensive feedback from branches of the U.S. Military. We specialize in products design for efficient transport and deployment in the field. Our innovative product designs demonstrate proven performance across the globe.

Why Military Bases and Installations Look to BCI

heavy-duty-containment-berms-designed-for-military-useThe world’s largest institutional consumer of oil is the U.S. military, which uses more than 100 million barrels of oil each year to fuel vehicles, aircraft, ships and other operations. 

Military installations can need to store petroleum and lubricant in large quantities, while vehicles can require long-term use in rugged conditions, leaving them prey to oil leaks. Consequently, military facilities need approved petroleum containment solutions and systems to ensure environmental compliance and reduce hazardous chemical exposures.

  • Our soldier friendly single piece constructed temporary spill containment berms require no assembly and have no loose parts that can be lost
  • Designed specifically for embark with the smallest available folded storage footprint
  • Products keep units compliant with local, state and federal environmental spill regulations

Typical Applications

  • 10′ x 10′ Fail-Safe® MilBerm™ under generators and also for POL containment—mainly stored in drums
  • Spill Pads and Drip Berms under vehicle axles
  • 10′ x 16′ Fail-Safe® MilBerm™ under generators
  • 12′ x 26′ and 12′ x 30′ Fail-Safe® MilBerm™ for 5-ton trucks with fuel pods in the Army and 7-ton trucks with fuel pods in the Marine Corps
  • 12′ x 36′ Fail-Safe® MilBerm™ under the 2500 gallon fuel HEMMET

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Petroleum and Oil Containment Solutions

The EPA’s Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) requirements were introduced to protect waterways and the surrounding environment from oil or other chemical spills. These apply to facilities with total above-ground storage tank (AST) capacity of more than 1,320 gallons in containers of 55 gallons or larger, or total underground tank capacity of more than 42,000 gallons.

app_mil_arcticSPCC regulations include secondary containment requirements for potential petroleum leaks, spills and discharges. Examples of oil containment include facility construction features such as impervious berms or retaining walls, gutters, retention ponds or other drainage systems, as well as sorbent materials to recover liquids, barriers such as skim mats and collection systems such as sumps.

Bulk storage tanks and petroleum containers must also meet specific requirements that address the potential for major tank or container failures. 

The EPA’s hazardous waste storage regulation 40 CFR 264.175 requires that secondary containment systems be impervious, free of gaps or cracks and chemically compatible with the material being stored. The exterior of the petroleum containers, including tank supports and foundations, must receive regular visual inspections for signs of leaks, damage and deterioration. 

The oil containment system must have either a sloped design or a means for quick removal of leaking or spilled material. It must have capacity to contain at least 10 percent of the total volume of the primary container or 100 percent of the volume of the largest container, whichever is larger. The system must either prevent precipitation such as rainwater or run-on from entering or have capacity to accommodate potential precipitation.

Material leaked or spilled into the secondary containment area must be removed as quickly as possible to avoid overflow and potential environmental contamination. 

Choosing a Petroleum and Oil Containment Solution 

Physical barriers provide several methods for petroleum and oil containment. Fuel tank containment dikes or berms can be walls or embankments made of earth or concrete for temporary or permanent use. 

Military-approved oil spill containment berms can be used comparably to pools or basins placed under storage tanks or pallets loaded with drums. In the event of gas or oil spills or leaks, the berms keep the chemicals within a contained space for easy cleanup while complying with EPA and SPCC requirements.

app_mil_truckSome portable, compact, light-weight berms have a flexible, one-piece design that allows them to be folded for easy storage and transportation. They can be quickly deployed in the event of fuel tank leaks or oil spills.

Durable spill berms are designed for both high chemical resistance as well as the ability to withstand wear and tear, such as for temporary oil containment of heavy-duty vehicles. 

In addition, spill booms are floating barriers, often made of metal or plastic, designed to contain oil and prevent its spread. They can often be placed between the primary petroleum container and a nearby body of water. 

Oil spill kits generally contain absorbent pads and mats, protective clothing, waste-handling bags and other items useful for cleaning up the spilled area.

Military spill kit requirements for maintenance facilities include universal absorbent pads, while the recommended spill kit inventory for field exercises includes synthetic polyethylene absorbent pads and biodegradable cotton absorbent pads. According to the requirements, during cleanup absorbent pads and rags must be placed in clear, durable trash bags for proper disposal. 

A drip pad can capture small leaks before they contaminate the ground or create an unsafe work surface while ensuring environmental compliance. Many effective oil drip pads are designed from UV and chemical resistant, modified PVC. They can consist of oil-only sorbents within a leak-proof barrier, as opposed to pads designed to absorb water or other materials. 

Weighted oil drip pads can serve as part of portable containment systems for equipment and machinery. Drip pads can be positioned and anchored under engines, leaky valves and other areas prone to leaks. Different sized drip pads can accommodate larger or smaller leaks. 

Military Ready Products

Military-approved oil and petroleum containment products should be designed for heavy-duty protection against spills and other accidents, whether in the field or on base, and maintain compliance with environmental regulations.

To order a compliant products  from Basic Concepts Inc. fill out our quick order form and one of our professional sales associates will contact you to make your request.