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What is Secondary Containment?

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, and often are, designed with secondary containment backups 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.

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.