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Gas & Oil Spill Containment Berms

Oil and gas fuel tank spills can have disastrous effects on the environment and lead to costly fines and clean-up costs. Industries that use or store petroleum fuel in bulk can mitigate the impact of discharges through oil spill containment berms, portable dikes, custom barriers and other solutions.

Deploying spill containment berms can assist in meeting and exceeding regulatory requirements of 40 CFR part 112 of the Clean Water Act also known as the SPCC (Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures) requirements in the gas and oil industry.

Whether a spill occurs on water or land, the results are devastating to the local ecosystem and can also impact local economies. Preventing potential disasters surrounding oil spills can be more cost effective than the costs associated with an oil spill cleanup of any size.

Oil and Gas Containment Rules and Regulations

The EPA’s Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) requirements were introduced to protect waterways and the surrounding environment from leaks or spills. These apply to industrial 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 Oil-Rig-Wellhead-Bermcapacity of more than 42,000 gallons.

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

Bulk storage tanks and containers must also meet the specific requirements, which 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 containers, including tank supports and foundations, must receive regular visual inspections for signs of leaks, damage and deterioration. 

The 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. 

According to EPA requirements, oil discharges that may be harmful to the public health or environment include those that violate applicable water quality guidelines; cause a sheen or discoloration of the surface of the water or shorelines; or cause a sludge or emulsion to be deposited beneath the surface of the water. According to the Discharge of Oil Regulation or the “sheen rule,” oil spill reporting is required in the presence of a visible sheen of spilled oil, but is not based on a specific amount of oil spilled.

Oil Spill Cleanup is Hard Work

Oil spills or leaks can take place anywhere that oil is drilled, transported, stored or used. 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.

Aquatic or marine oil spills can be more damaging and difficult to clean up than spills on soil, which are more contained.

On land, spilled oil prevents the soil from absorbing water, which can harm plant life in grasslands or agricultural locations. The highest priorities will be to prevent oil from entering waterways or leaching into groundwater, as well as to return the soil to its productive use. Berms and trenches offer a means to contain spills.

In conditions where there is no risk to the water table, which can include urban environments, water can be used to “float” the oil, which is typically lighter than water, to allow for recovery with skimmers, vacuums and shoreline cleaning agents.

Fuel cleanups on shorelines and other land environments are influenced by the type of soil spilled, the local geology and the type and sensitivity of biological communities in the area. While natural processes such as evaporation, oxidation and biodegradation can help clean a shoreline, it may also need physical methods such as wiping with sorbent materials, pressure washing and raking or bulldozing. Oil collected during cleanup must be disposed of properly.

What Are Oil Spill Berms?

Physical barriers provide several methods for oil and gas containment. Fuel tank containment dikes or berms can be walls or embankments made of earth or concrete for temporary or permanent use. As terms, dikes and berms are often used interchangeably to denote a level space, shelf or raised barrier to separate two items.

Oil spill containment berms can be used like pools or basins placed under storage tanks or pallets loaded with drums. Some portable dikes and berms have a convenient, one-piece design that allows them to be folded for easy storage and transportation. 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.

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

Light-duty berms are designed to be compact and quickly deployed in the event of fuel tank leaks or oil spills.

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. 

In addition, industrial spray coatings can be applied to permanent tanks for long-term containment solutions. The best tank coatings can be applied over substrates such as concrete, steel and more to offer impervious containment with rapid cure times and no VOCs. Industrial tank coatings can be specified for corrosion protection and adhesion while proving resistant to fatigue and exposure to water.

Protective spray coatings can also reduce the chance of a berm oil spill. Spray coatings can form a protective film over a concrete berm to seal and bridge hairline cracks and large moving joints. 

BCI offers oil spill containment berms and fuel tank containment dikes that can be customized for a wide variety of industrial needs. 

Oil Spill Berm Construction

Oil and fuel berms are designed to withstand the elements of heavy-duty use and help meet SPCC requirements for full compliance. Heavy-duty construction allows vehicle drive-through capability, while maximizing efficiency for portability and usability. Fuel containment systems and oil containment systems contain the necessary properties to withstand harsh chemicals and not deteriorate when a fuel leak or oil leak happens.

Each application must be evaluated differently when addressing the potential of an oil spill. Considerations for choosing the perfect berm include the type of ground surface on which the berm is going to be deployed, vehicle traffic levels, total area and volume of hazardous liquids. With proper spill berm protection in the form of ground mats and track mats, punctures can be avoided and should be incorporated into any site design.

Weather should also be considered in the design of the oil spill berm that is used to meet the secondary spill requirements for the area being contained. If there is significant snow fall then a semi rigid upright wall design should be used. Float up walls will not work with the weight of the snow and ice on top of them. Oil spill berms that are to be used in areas where there are high winds will need a method of securing the berm.

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.