One of the EPA’s mandates is use secondary containment to prevent oil spills from polluting our nation’s navigable waterways which are defined under the Clean Water Act and Oil Pollution Act as any waterway or body of water that is used for interstate and foreign commerce, including lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands, wet meadows, playa lakes and natural ponds. This description basically covers almost all natural surface water in the United States.
Oil is defined as petroleum, fuel oil, sludge, oil refuse and oil mixed with wastes, non-petroleum oils, synthetics oils, animal fats, oil and greases and vegetable oils.
Once spilled, these materials pose a serious threat to soil, ground water, fresh water, marine habitats, human and animal life. Spilled oil is hazardous because:
- It can contain low concentrations of benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, sulfur and toxic metals.
- All of these materials are poisonous to human and animal life if it has leaked into the ground water that replenishes our country’s wells or contaminates the surface water reservoirs where the water is ingested by humans or animals.
- An Oil spill is especially deadly to birds and water fowl because it coats their feathers so they are unable to fly and usually poisons them as they ingest it trying to clean their feathers.
- An Oil spill can also destroy most, if not all, of the vegetation adjacent to the waterway that is contaminated by it.
- In addition, many of these chemicals can also present a significant fire hazard.
As a result, the Environmental Protection Agency requires anyone who stores large quantities of oil in any of the forms described above to develop and implement an oil spill prevention, control and countermeasure (SPCC) plan.
Spill Prevention, Containment and Control (SPCC) is best accomplished by assuring the primary storage tanks are waterproof and leak free. Polyurea liners make an excellent material for this important step. The next step is to construct a secondary-containemt system for the spilled liquid. Polyurea Liners represent one of the best products and methods for secondary containment.