Common chemicals for farms and agriculture include fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, which can be damaging if used or stored improperly. Hazardous pesticide and fertilizer storage must be handled in accordance with federal, state and local requirements. Effective spill containment on farms can help protect the environment from agricultural chemical contamination.
Chemical Handling Requirements for Agriculture
The Worker Protection Standard of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency oversees the use of agricultural pesticides to reduce the risk of poisonings and other injuries. The WPS is designed to protect employees who handle, mix or apply agricultural pesticides as well as agricultural workers who cultivate or harvest plants. It includes pesticide safety training, use of protective equipment and decontamination supplies and more.
The WPS requires employers to provide protections for workers for handle and apply pesticides, as well as implement “restricted-entry intervals (REIs)” to keep workers from being exposed to pesticide-treated areas.
States and municipalities may require the installation of secondary containment around the storage of bulk liquid fertilizer of specified quantities. For instance, the state of Kansas requires secondary containment when liquid fertilizer storage exceeds a total capacity of 2,000 gallons. In addition, it requires secondary containment at facilities that handle undivided pesticide product containers of 5,000 gallons or 4,000 pounds dry.
For dry-bulk agricultural chemicals, concrete fertilizer storage can provide durable and cost-effective solutions.
How Dangerous are Fertilizers, Herbicides and Pesticides?
Following pesticide storage requirements is crucial to avoid exposures that could harm workers or the environment. Some agricultural chemicals can be harmful if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin, which can lead to such symptoms as headache, vomiting, skin rashes, chemical burns and more. Long-term exposures can lead to an increased risk of lung disease, nervous system disorders, some types of cancer and other illnesses.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the pesticides most often implicated in acute, non-occupational illness and injury are pyrethroids and pyrethrins, especially when used in higher than recommended levels.
Chemical fertilizers handled improperly can lead to chemical burns on plants, waterway pollution, mineral depletion in the soil or soil acidification.
Fertilizer should be safely stored in dry, well-ventilated spaces that are kept free from moisture. Keep fertilizers separate from seeds and flammable materials, and make sure that agricultural chemicals that react with each other are also kept separate. Fertilizer can be stored outdoors if protected from the elements, but storage tanks or indoor storage is more secure in the long term. Bulk fertilizer storage systems can include vertical silos as well as horizontal storage.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture, for instance, keeps fertilizer storage requirements such as ensuring that all liquid bulk fertilizer storage tanks and dikes must be maintained and kept in good repair, and concrete dikes, for instance, kept free or cracks or defects.
Concrete fertilizer storage can involve dikes, load pads and dry bulk pesticide or fertilizer floors. Agricultural containment areas should be designed and maintained to avoid cracks or deterioration that can allow the escape of pesticides or fertilizers. To prevent concrete damage or deterioration, sealants and coatings should be selected based on such factors as compatibility with the substrate and resistance to chemical exposures.
How to Mitigate Spills by Using Containment Berms
Containment berms can mitigate liquid fertilizer spills, whether in bulk storage areas, loading areas or maintenance areas. Effective berms for storage areas will be durable and secure while being available in sizes adequate for the area. Portable berms for loading offer the advantage of being reused in multiple areas. Maintenance spill pads offer temporary containment that is easy to transport to different locations on a farm while resisting wear and tear.
Often secondary containment is required by regional or local governments. For instance, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development requires liquid pesticides and fertilizers to be contained in corrosion and puncture-resistant tanks. MDARD also requires the bulk tanks to be contained in a diked area that can hold 110 percent of the largest tank’s volume and a six-inch volume of rainfall.
Containment materials can include fertilizer berms as well as sealed concrete, fabricated steel or concrete, fiberglass or treated lumber frame with a synthetic liner.
Operations need to be conducted on a loading pad with an impermeable surface and a capacity of at least 1,500 gallons.
How to Clean Up a Fertilizer, Herbicide or Pesticide Spill
Requirements differ slightly for cleaning up dry and liquid pesticides and other hazardous agricultural chemicals. With both, employees must wear proper PPE (personal protection equipment) and avoid working alone. After cleanup, apply appropriate decontamination material to the area according to directions.
Dry spills involve chemicals in granular, powder or other formulations. Employees should cover the spill with a weighted tarp plastic sheet. Collect the spilled material with a shovel or broom while rolling up the cover one small area at a time. Place the material in metal or plastic containers, then secure and label them for appropriate disposal.
Liquid spills should be soaked up with an absorbent product, using a broom to work the absorbent into the spill as needed. Gather the material and place in a plastic container. Contaminated soil may need to be collected and removed the same way.
Stay Compliant With the Right Containment
Farms must follow pesticide storage requirements to avoid fines and mitigate the costs of expensive clean-ups in the event of a failure in pesticide or fertilizer storage. Durable and customizable containment berms can offer long-term protection from fertilizer, herbicide and pesticide spills on a farm.
Fertilizer chemicals can either be in liquid or dry form. Both can cause safety hazards in the event of a spill or leak. Basic Concepts’ spill berms provide industry users with large containment solutions for bulk storage or emergency berms for smaller quantities of fertilizer chemicals.
Rigid-Lock Quick Fail-Safe QuickBerm
The Rigid-Lock Quick Fail-Safe QuickBerm offers heavy-duty construction for long-term spill containment situations. These containment berms are portable and offer durable construction for dropping tanks, totes or farm equipment inside of the berm for safe practices.
Rigid-Lock QuickBerm Lite
The Rigid-Lock QuickBerm Lite is perfect for emergency spills or leaks when loading and unloading drums or totes. Designed specifically for emergency spill response, the light weight berm can be thrown in work vehicles or carried by hand to the job site.
BCI spill berms help meet SPCC and EPA regulations.
To order a compliant spill berm from Basic Concepts Inc. fill out our quick order form and one of our professional sales associates will contact you to make your request.