Welcome to BCI’s FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) for our secondary containment solutions. Here you’ll find answers to often asked questions about products and regulations. The questions are arranged according to the secondary containment categories below.
If there is something you’re looking for that is not addressed here, please let us know so we can better meet your needs.
What are oil solidifying polymers?
Formerly known as C.I.Agent® oil solidifying polymers*, solidifying polymers are an integral component for most of our secondary oil containment solutions. They are an environmentally-friendly, petroleum-based proprietary blend of 7 different polymers. These polymers are hydrophobic and will always float on water (salt or fresh). Once it comes in contact with hydrocarbons (oil, diesel, gasoline), it solidifies into a rubber-like mass. The solidified hydrocarbons become non-toxic, float on water and do not leech.
*C.I.Agent® is listed on the EPA National Contingency Plan Product Schedule as a “Solidifier” for use on oil spills in the navigable waters of the United States.
How do solidifying polymers differ from other solidifiers in the marketplace?
BCI’s oil solidifier is a proprietary blend of several different polymers. Other solidifiers on the market are made up of only one or two co-polymers. BCI offers the only solidifier that works instantly on the full spectrum of hydrocarbons ranging from low-end gasolines to heavy crude oil.
Do BCI solidifying polymers work on biodegradable oils?
Be it double bonded biodegradable oil or single bond oil, the solubility parameter of the oil is the most important property. If the oil is between 7 and 11 Hildebrands, our solidifying polymers should work.
Can BCI solidifying polymers absorb elemental mercury or its inorganic compounds from water, as well as, other trace metals in the same solid state form as it does the petroleum oils?
No. Our solidifying polymers will not attract elemental mercury or trace metals. It is likely to have some attraction for most trace compounds, but the attraction would be weak and therefore, ineffective in removing low concentrations.
What hydrocarbons can be solidified by BCI solidifying polymers?
All of the following materials can be encapsulated and solidified, but only the hydrocarbons preceded with an asterisk (*) can be disposed of in landfills under certain conditions with the use of our solidifying polymers.
What are Barrier Boom panels made of?
The inside wall of the Barrier Boom panel is a basic geotextile made from a patented blend of recycled synthetic materials that are both hydrophobic and oleophilic. The material wicks the oil throughout the fibers and has a tremendous load capability per square inch. Agent-X makes up the outer wall of the panel. It is made of two layers of a geotextile with BCI solidifying polymers laminated between the layers. The material itself has a tremendous filtering effect and keeps oil from passing through this unique final outside wall. The polymers fill the void between the outer and inner wall. A unique quilting pattern keeps the polymers from shifting during handling and installation.
Do the polymers in your Barrier Boom secondary oil containment shift over time?
None of our customers have ever complained of shifting. We have two sources of polymers in our Barrier Boom; one is in our Agent-X material and one is blown in-between layers of Agent-X and another geotextile. Agent-X is a new generation of smart textiles with BCI solidifying polymers embedded between two geotextile layers. Movement of polymers is very unlikely. Then, polymers are blown between the Agent-X layer and another geotextile and we finish with a quilting process that keeps the polymers in place; no shifting.
How long will the Barrier Boom walls last in the ground?
Barrier Boom is a “bury and forget” application. The outer non-woven synthetic material outer protective covering is rated for up to 200 years; the polymers inside the booms are a plastic and therefore do not have a shelf life.
How much maintenance is involved with the Barrier Boom secondary oil containment system?
None, though we recommend performing a visual inspection on a regular basis to look for exposed Barrier Boom. In those cases, use a hand rake to re-cover it with stone. The only time you will need to touch the booms is if you need to do some expansion at the facility or some other form of maintenance, or if you experience an oil release. Barrier Boom can be temporarily removed and then reinstalled after an expansion or maintenance has been accomplished.
How much maintenance is involved with the HFF Oil Stop Valve or VIPOR Oil Filtration Systems?
All filters need some level of maintenance, but compared to traditional oil water separators or similar systems, required maintenance for the HFF and VIPOR is minimal. Always use a pre-filter with the HFF to prevent silt and mud from clogging it. Maintenance will depend on the amount of silt, dirt and hydrocarbon the pre-filter is exposed to.
The maintenance frequency of the VIPOR-SOWF, VIPOR-100 SOWF and VIPOR-SUMP also varies by job site, depending on how much dirt exists in the containment that can clog the pre-filter. Always perform an inspection following a significant rain event.
If there is a spill, do the Barrier Boom walls/panels have to be replaced?
If the spill makes contact with the Barrier Boom material you may only have to replace the section affected by the spill. The purpose of walls is to allow the natural flow of water through them while trapping and containing any hydrocarbon release. If the section of wall involved in the spill was not removed, a natural rain/snow event could not flow through it, thus causing pooling. When cleaning up after a spill, be sure to keep the spill contractor from destroying all the remaining Barrier Boom panels when removing the stone from the containment site.
Do rodents or bugs damage the Barrier Boom once in the ground?
If the Barrier Boom is exposed, rodents could use the material for nesting. In a “to grade” installation, a trench is dug and the Barrier Boom are placed inside the trench. Clean, washed stone is placed on both sides thus protecting the Barrier Boom. In a “dike” installation, the Barrier Boom are staked above ground and is then covered with the clean washed stone.
Will Barrier Boom burn in a fire?
As attested to by a Certified Fire Inspector, Barrier Boom walls/panels under rock will not burn due to the lack of oxygen necessary to complete combustion.
What effect do defoliate chemicals have on the Barrier Boom systems?
Barrier Boom is installed in the ground and covered with rock. By the time rainwater washes the chemicals down through the rock, the chemicals are diluted to the point that the outer protective non-woven synthetic material, which is a poly in itself, will attract and contain the chemicals in its fibers.
Do Barrier Boom panels degrade if exposed to UV rays?
The fibers in Agent-X, one of the geotextiles used in Barrier Boom, will degrade if exposed to sunlight and oxygen, just like any other fiber would. However, a minimum of maintenance to keep the berm intact and to keep the Agent-X covered would lessen the effect considerably. The geotextile used in Agent-X has a UV Resistance of 70 percent (determined by the ASTM D4355 test method after 500 hours) and an Oxidation Resistance of 80 percent (determined by the EN 13438 test method). Exposed Barrier Boom can be caused by natural events such as a heavy rain or snow/ice melt.
How does Barrier Boom work with grounding grids?
All substations have grounding grids. They are generally 18-24 inches below the surface. We factor the depth of the grid and the placement of conduit into our design on retro installs. Consult with your technical sales professional for more details.
We are thinking of installing a Barrier Boom secondary oil containment system dike method. Will it hurt to drive our service vehicles over the dike?
This physical issue needs to be discussed with your engineer during the initial planning phase. Many customers want to get their service vehicles near the equipment. We recommend an earthen berm which is constructed of finely crushed limestone and packed into a vehicle ramp to go over the Barrier Boom. We do not recommend driving directly over a berm as it could crush the walls, causing possible product failure and invalidating the insurance policy.
Can our maintenance trucks drive over the Geomembrane Liner with Barrier Boom system?
Driving on the containment unit is not a problem IF the installation has planned for such activity. What is needed is six inches of pea stone below the liner and geotextile fabric placed on the floor before backfill. The deeper the containment unit, the less concern about vehicle traffic.
What effect do your Geomembrane Liners have on the step potential of the grounding grid within a substation?
Our Geomembrane Liners have no impact, positive or negative, on step potentials within a substation. The grounding grid passes around the liner and thus is not impacted by it, so the step potential remains the same whether a liner is installed or not.
How long does a typical installation of a Geomembrane Liner with Barrier Boom system take? Will we need to prepare to shut the power off during the install?
What’s great about all secondary containment systems is that equipment can remain fully energized during the installation – no power outage is required. Even better, most systems can be installed in 1 to 2 days or less.
Are Barrier Boom and other secondary containment systems approved by the EPA?
The EPA does not endorse, approve, recommend, license, or authorize the use of any product. All secondary containment and diversion systems have been certified by Professional Engineering firms across the nation to meet or exceed the EPA’s SPCC Regulations, as set forth in 40 CFR 112.7 of the Federal Registry for Secondary Containment and Diversion methods.
How do Barrier Boom walls/panels meet the Spill Prevention Controls and Countermeasures (SPCC) requirements?
40 CFR 112.7 (5)(c) states that the entire containment/diversion structure, including walls and floor, must be capable of containing oil, and must be constructed so that the oil will not escape containment before clean-up occurs. (j) States: Dikes, berms, or retaining walls sufficiently impervious to contain oil are acceptable prevention systems. When solidifying polymers come into contact with an organic hydrocarbon, such as transformer oil, it undergoes a molecular transformation and becomes an impervious barrier.
Do I have to have secondary containment?
SPCC regulations require that the owner/operator take measures to assure that no oil can escape from their site and get into the navigable waters of the United States. If you certify that; (1) any oil cannot escape the site and reach any type of water shed, storm sewer, drainage ditch, even during a rain event, or (2) that you could reach the site and prevent the oil from migrating off the site, then secondary containment would not have to be provided.
Do I need to contain 100 percent of the oil at my facility?
SPCC regulations state that the owner/operator needs to provide secondary containment for the “most likely” event. It is not likely that all the oil filled equipment would fail and drain at the same time. It is more likely that the largest oil-filled unit could fail and drain off. Most professional engineers feel that their SPCC Plan should be designed for the most likely event that would contain the amount of oil in the largest vessel, and which may or may not include enough freeboard to contain the oil plus a 25-year, 24-hour rain event. The latter depends on locations and annual rainfall figures
Can the EVAC be re-used?
Yes. The EVAC can be re-used until the Hydrocarbon Detection Strip on the out skin turns a darker blue. This indicates that the filter has reached its maximum oil capacity and needs to be discarded. If your EVAC is not showing signs of hydrocarbon overload, fold the unit up and store back in its bucket for the next use.
Are any of your secondary containment solutions patented?
In 2015, Agent-Q, a filtration material used in many of our solutions, received US Patent 8,986,822 B2 for OIL IMPERVIOUS DEVICE WITH HIGH WATER FLOW RATE. Agent-Q allows extremely high flow rates for our Barrier Boom, HFF and VIPOR systems.
Many of our substations already have secondary containment, most commonly concrete moats or composite walls. We often need to manually dewater these after a heavy rain. Do you offer any automated pumping or filtration solutions that can help us cut down on O&M time?
When it comes to retrofitting existing containment, it’s important to identify the main source of concern and the expectations of the customer. For customers that currently have concrete moats with no drainage capabilities, we recommend one of our automated VIPOR solutions. If passive drainage is preferred, we recommend plumbing the drain to an HFF Oil Stop Valve located in a vault outside of the containment area. Because every situation is different based on site-specific variables, please contact us directly and we’ll discuss your unique containment needs.