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Chemical Storage And Environmental Compliance
Being environmentally conscious or eco-conscious is defined as being environmentally aware and sensitive to potential environmental impact. If your day-to-day operations include storing, accumulating, or dispensing chemicals that could negatively impact the environment, it’s your responsibility to make sure that you are properly controlling those elements. Beyond just being a good steward of the environment, environmental compliance is a heavily regulated and monitored part of responsible chemical handling. Government entities like OSHA, EPA, NFPA, and most state and local governments all have specific standards that must be followed to avoid violations that could result in penalties and workflow interruptions.
The good news is that RedGuard’s VersaBilt Chemical products can help ensure that your environmental compliance is safe and easy. Building a fully compliant modular chemical storage building takes the expertise of a company with strong engineering and years of manufacturing expertise. It only takes a few key pieces of information from the client to get the ball rolling. Then our clients work with our chemical storage experts to build a high-quality, fully compliant chemical storage building that protects the environment and prevents high liability incidents.
Now, let's consider some of the questions that could and should come up when it comes to chemical storage.
1) What chemical is being stored or dispensed?
In addition to that, in what quantities? What types of containers will be used?
The amount of material will determine the overall size of the chemical storage building. For example, the container size might determine if it is just an open floor space or if shelving is also required for smaller containers. The amount of material will also dictate the necessary spill containment size. Factory Mutual (FM) says the sump should hold 25% of all building contents, and International Fire Code (IFC) says the building sump needs to hold the contents of the largest container.
For reference, the Factory Mutual reference is located in Approval Standard 6049, section 5.3. The International Fire Code is Section 5004.2.1.
2) Are you storing chemicals or dispensing chemicals?
"Storing chemicals" means keeping the drums or other containers closed at all times, with the only possibility of exposure coming from an accidental leak or rupture. "Dispensing chemicals" means knowingly exposing the material to the environment through pouring or pumping into other containers or into a process.
An example of storing would be a printing operation that pumps ink directly from the storage building into the printing room. Basic storage in containers minimizes the chance of a spill or fumes.
However, dispensing (particularly open dispensing) can expose the operator and the electrical components to flammable vapors. The possibility of fumes or vapors needs to be addressed with advanced ventilation or even explosion vent panels to relieve pressure in the event of a blast. These panels are sized based on the strength of the building and typically release at a relatively low pressure. In addition, the panels are tethered to the building to avoid damaging any surrounding people or property. Generally, the area 75 feet from the building where the vents discharge must be kept clear.
The proper building design for storage and dispensing is governed by the IFC and International Building Code (IBC).
3) How far is your storage building from other occupied buildings?
This distance will determine the fire rating of your building’s walls and roof. If your building is very close to another structure (less than 10 feet), it will likely require a four-hour bidirectional firewall. This design will include multiple layers of rated drywall on the inside and outside. The idea is that if the chemical storage building burns, it needs to contain the fire, and if the other occupied structure burns, you want to protect the contents of the hazmat building.
Between 10 and 30 feet, the wall requirement drops to two-hour fire rated. If it is more than 30 feet, it will not need to be fire rated but will still require other features like spill containment, etc.
In most cases, because heat rises to the roof, it will not carry the same fire rating as the walls, even if it is built with the same layers. The current code requires the roof design to be fire tested to determine its rating. FM, National Fire and Protection Agency (NFPA), and IBC all touch on fire ratings.
What's Next With Chemical Storage?
From here, the project specialist will work with the client to determine required accessories like ramps, shelves, heating, air conditioning, ventilation, lights, fire suppression, gas detection, alarms, etc. In most cases, any components inside the building must be Class I, Division II explosion-proof to avoid a spark.
There are many national and international codes mentioned above that must be followed. Equally important is to have the approval of the local authority having jurisdiction (LAHJ). In most cases, this is the Fire Marshal or Code Enforcement Officer in the locality where the building will be located. The LAHJ should approve the building and chemicals being stored before final approval for RedGuard to manufacture the structure.
RedGuard is ready to walk you through these questions and all details of your storage project. We can support discussions with the LAHJ. We are passionate about protecting people and the environment. When you are ready, contact RedGuard, and we will be glad to walk you through these questions and all details of the RedGuard VersaBilt Chemical Storage Building.
Eric Rienbolt lives in Central Illinois and is the North American Sales Manager for RedGuard. He has been with the company since 2012, in several different capacities within the sales department, including extensive work with custom projects.