Federal Law Mandates Secondary Containment

The Code of Federal Regulation (CFR) 40, Protection of the Environment, requires by federal law that all hazardous waste or constituents be positively contained. In 1987, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) passed a regulation under CFR 40 requiring a secondary means of containing spilled materials that include hazardous chemicals (Section 265.190-265.193, 40 CFR); however, this regulation is really only just now starting to be enforced.

Two important dates listed below mark the EPA’s secondary containment mandate, one for the secondary containment of underground storage tanks (USTs) and the other for aboveground storage tanks (ASTs):

  • December 31, 2009 –  Corrosion-protected single-wall USTs and small-diameter piping in contact with the soil must have secondary containment.
  • January 1, 2010 – Single-wall, field-erected ASTs must have secondary containment beneath the tank, and single-wall bulk product piping in contact with the soil must have secondary containment unless deferred by an API 570 Integrity Assessment.

In both cases, the secondary containment must function effectively for a period of time sufficient to allow proper spill cleanup without damage to the environment (Section 265.196, 40 CFR).

Many USTs and ASTs are made of concrete. The regulation notes that concrete is porous, and that the most reliable means of secondary containment on concrete is with a liquid-applied monolithic polymer membrane. One polymer membrane that meets the new requirements is polyurea spray elastomer technology.