Throughout the years of providing secondary containment systems and solutions for utility companies, we’ve realized that the only constant in the design of Geomembrane Liner with Barrier Boom systems is that there is no constant. Each site is unique, and requires a customized solution.

Throughout the years of providing secondary containment systems and solutions for utility companies, we’ve realized that the only constant in the design of Geomembrane Liner with Barrier Boom systems is that there is no constant. Each site is unique, and requires a customized solution.

Each substation site has unique needs and variable. We use these to create customized containment solutions

The variables that make each site unique differ case by case, but often include:

  • The amount of oil
  • The number of vessels
  • The physical placement of the vessels
  • The depth of gravel
  • The area available for containment
  • The type of sub-soil
  • The topography

The Role of Sub-Surface Soil

When we install containment on sites with clay sub-soil surfaces, no liner is required

If any of the variables listed above differ or change from site to site, the design of the containment will change. SPCC 40 CFR 112 requires both the walls and floor of a containment system to be impervious. Sometimes this can be accomplished with the sub-surface soil, as in the case of a clay sub-surface. The EPA considers sites that have a sub-surface soil of clay to be impervious. Therefore, if we were installing the containment on a site with clay soil, we would not need to utilize a liner. Barrier Boom walls would be placed in the clay sub-soil sealed with granule Bentonite® at the bottom edge and back filled with clean washed stone.

However, sites where the sub-soil is permeable would require a liner to prevent the possibility of an oil leak from contaminating the ground and nearby water sources. In containment systems requiring liners, the Barrier Boom Secondary Oil Containment is constructed with a 4-inch flap that is placed under the liner’s outside edges and sealed with granular Bentonite. Then it is covered and back filled with clean washed stone.

Liners should be installed at sites with permeable sub-soil to prevent an oil spill from contaminating navigable waters

Granular Bentonite is also used to seal the overlap along the seams of the liner and around any conduit or obstructions on the site. The liner can be attached and sealed to the concrete transformer pads or piers with silicone mastic or a Bentonite clay paste. The liner is held firmly in place by the pressure of the back filled stone. Other mechanical attachment methods may be incorporated.

Importance of Gravel Depth

The type and depth of the gravel on the site is one of the determining variables that impact the height and length of the Barrier Boom Secondary Oil Containment. It must be equal to or greater than the depth of the gravel to prevent the hydrocarbons from overflowing the containment system.

It’s important to cover the Barrier Boom with gravel. After a heavy rain event or snow melt, visually inspect the site for exposed boom. If exposed, cover with stone. Berms may need to be reshaped using a hand rake

If the gravel is 6 inches in depth, the Barrier Boom must be at least 6 inches high; 12 inches or 18 inches of gravel would require Barrier Boom of 12 inches or 18 inches respectfully.

The Barrier Boom height can also be affected by the size of the available foot print for the containment system. If the area is limited, the wall may have to be higher than the depth of the gravel, creating an above-grade berm.

The amount of oil also can affect the height of the Barrier Boom when volume exceeds the containment capacity of the gravel available.

Regardless of the height of the Barrier Boom, the maximum length of an individual piece is 50 feet. As the wall is installed, it is sealed along the bottom edge with granular Bentonite and each length is joined with a 4-inch overlap before it is backfilled with clean, washed stone.

Contact BCI to Design Site-Specific Oil Containment

BCI provides a number of custom below- and above-grade secondary containment solutions to meet SPCC requirements. Contact us today for a quote or more information.

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Basic Concepts has the ability to customize our products for many of your specific applications. Whatever your requirements, our custom solution will be durable enough for the most stringent spill control requirements. We are committed to providing the best solution for your needs. We will be happy to customize this or any other spill berm to satisfy any of your size requirements and applications.


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