What is spill control?
Hello, my name’s David Cole and I’m technical director at Sandfield Penstock Solutions and today I’m going to talk about spill control.
So, spill control really is how you control a spillage. It doesn’t matter what that spillage is, but if you lose a material that could be harmful to the environment, how do you control it?
Who should be concerned about spill control?
So, really when we’re looking at spill management, spill control, I mean you could really say all of us because we can all have spillages at home. We can have spillages of paint or something, anything. But, really, let’s look at industry. What we are looking at really is, if you’ve got a process at your business which could be harmful to the environment, really, you’ve gotta start thinking about ‘what if’. What happens if that gets spilt? Where will it go? Is there a risk to the environment? All your looking at is, can I stop it leaving (55secs) my site and causing a pollution event?
So, I think let’s have a look at spill control on a bigger scale. We’re looking at the businesses that actually have something on site that could cause an impact to the outside environment, something that would cause damage. Because, what you’ve got to remember is, if you have a pollution, if we just take a simple setup, a litre of paint, but you’re a business, you’re a large business, you spill a litre of paint. It’s emulsion paint and it ends up in the local stream. That’s going to impact the environment, people are going to see it. It potentially is going to cause an issue to the fish, kill some fish, kill some wildlife, damage the natural environment. You’re going to get prosecuted or you’re going to have to pay at least for the clear up of the damage that you’ve done. So, really, anything that can be spilled that could cause an impact on the environment, as a business, whoever you are, you need to be thinking about what is the potential harm that I could cause and am I able to mitigate and control it?
We as a business at Penstock Solutions, we work with anybody. We’ll work with anybody that actually gives us a call, no matter who they are, we work with restaurants right up to multinational engineering companies to milk companies. All sorts, but we don’t mind. If a company is interested in spill control, pollution control, because they are focused on the fact that we don’t want that to happen, we are happy to work with anybody.
Who in business is typically responsible for spill control?
So, normally when we get a call it’s the environmental managers, HSE managers that are actually dealing with health and safety and the environment. They’re the people who normally get in contact with us, with a specific question. They’ve probably been approached by the EA and told you need to consider CIRIA 736 and they haven’t got a clue what that means and they’ve found us out, they’ve tracked us down on the internet, they’ve found what we do and they’ve gone, right, these guys can help us. So, we get called about that. But it can also be engineering managers, it can be company directors, it can be anybody really that’s building or designing or running a plant, a business but something’s gone wrong and they need some help. What I’d really like to happen is instead of getting calls when things go wrong, we actually get some calls when things are right. They just need to be implemented as new designs.
How do we go about controlling spills?
So, as a business we look at spills, I mean, in our own business we have to look at the control of spills but when we are looking with a client, we are looking at controlling spills, we’re looking at, what’s the risk? Where could it go? Where are the pathways? We always look at it, the source, which is what is the material. We always then look at the pathway. How can that spill get offsite? What’s the route it’s going to take and where’s it going to go? What’s the receptor? Is it going to end up in the land which is a pollution incident as well. Is it going to end up in the local stream, brook, local golf course, for instance? We need to look at all that to then decide at what level do we need to start looking at their risk.
What kit is required to control spills effectively?
Controlling spills comes at all levels, if we just look at what I call maintenance spills. So, this is a guy changing a gear box on a car or practicing in a factory changing some equipment and they might have a small, small minor spill which is just something that happens every day, part of the process. So, he spills a litre of oil, he spills a litre of a chemical. Those are what we call local spills and are dealt with really quite well by the use of a spill kit which is something most businesses have got.
What we’re really interested in is those events that take place where you’re talking about larger volumes or a volume of something that’s spilt, could be something like a cooking oil which is quite a common one. So, you spill a cutting oil outside and at the same time that you spill it, it’s raining so it gets washed away really quickly and you’ve got a material that as soon as it reaches a water course it actually multiplies into tens of thousands of what you originally had. And you can’t control it because it’s actually emulsifies in water. So, we’re interested in those elements rather than the small little spills.
What kit is required to control spills effectively?
So, when you’ve got those types of events. You’ve got, obviously, the small part which is your spill kit, then as you move up you are looking at how do you actually contain an incident? Now, that might mean that you need a control in an area where you’ve got one of our toggle block systems which blocks the drainage and actually uses the drainage as your attenuation, as the catchment point. Now, part of that idea and that whole philosophy of that equipment is if you’ve got, say, a thousand litres of a chemical that’s spilt and you can contain at the drain point and actually use the drain as a temporary containment point, you can actually then pump that out, put that back into a barrel and instead of having a material that the spill kit’s created which is now a waste, which has really got to be disposed of as a hazard waste, you potentially now have a material that could go back to the manufacturer but you reprocess, clean and reuse again. It doesn’t necessarily mean that that material is even waste.
To what extent can spills be controlled effectively?
So, spill control is achievable by everybody. There is no real, to us as a business, there’s no real ‘it can’t be done’. Every business, it doesn’t matter where they are or what they are, you can control every element of it. What you have to do is, you have to accept that there is a risk. If you accept there is a risk, you’re a long way there because what you’re saying is you can see it. Once you can understand that there is a potential risk, you either move your process so you move it into an area where there isn’t a drain or there isn’t some soft ground where it could just spill into. You actually protect that point. And then once you implement that and if you can’t get rid of that specific part of the problem then put in protection i.e. put in, if it’s just a minor spill, you’d put in a spill kit, soak it up. If it’s going into something that could potentially large, let’s put in some containment valves, let’s put in some modelling, let’s look at the tertiary, let’s look at the curbing, let’s look at some form of containment. Everything that actually is there can be achievable and not at the cost, really, of if an incident takes place and you actually do have a pollution incident the cost of that now is phenomenal compared with, actually, prevention.
What are your recommendations for businesses looking to address these issues?
So, our recommendations really are to follow our six-point process which is, first of all, understand the regulations. Then, understand how those regulations impact on your particular business. Carry out a risk assessment which really looks at your particular risks to your business there are from a pollution incident. Then look at how you actually design a system to contain that pollution event, no matter what it is. Then implement that system, put it in place, build it, get it installed, get it working. The next bit then is to monitor, maintain and document what you’ve done and be prepared as guidance’s change and technology improves, to move your system along so it actually continually improves and keep it under control.
What is people have questions or require further information?
If you’d like to know more, why don’t you just contact us at www.penstocksolutions.co.uk.
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David Cole MSEE
David is a pioneer of the spill containment and water pollution prevention industry with 30 years experience. He was instrumental in the development of CIRIA736 with The Environment Agency and is passionate about preventing water pollution.