Ever greater attention is being given to the storage of hazardous materials. While containing and controlling these materials is critical, maintaining high productivity in the current competitive environment is also important.

The spill barrier, available from Blobel Environmental Engineering , offers a solution to the containment of chemical spills and fire water without impacting facility productivity.

There are a number of standards that code enforcement officials may use to require the installation of containment systems:

  • NFPA-30: The National Fire Prevention Association calls for a suitable means to prevent the flow of liquids into adjacent building areas in emergency conditions
  • UFC-60: The Uniform Fire Code requires that secondary containment for indoor storage areas be designed to contain the volume of the largest single vessel and 20 minutes of flow from the fire suppression system
  • OSHA 1910.106: The Occupational Safety and Health Act in its Standard for Hazardous Materials calls for the retention of flammable or combustible liquid leakage and fire protection water in a safe location. As part of this standard, all openings must be protected by a minimum 4” barrier
  • Seveso II Directive: In Europe, this directive aims at the prevention of major accidents, which involve dangerous substances, and the limitation of their consequences for man and the environment.

While all desire to maintain their plants and facilities in compliance with applicable regulations, the main goal is to reduce risk.

The containment barriers provide an effective means to restrict the flow of flammable liquids to a limited area of the facility and prevent the spread of fire.

These barriers also work to prevent water damage in adjacent areas when a sprinkler system is activated. Finally, a growing concern is the discharge of contaminated fire water to adjacent properties and the environment.

The design of a containment area must be carefully considered. The Uniform Fire Code normally results in maximum containment volume.

With ever changing designs for fire suppression systems, the volume of water for 20-minutes of flow must be carefully calculated.

This becomes particularly significant with ESFR systems or with in-rack sprinklers. Blobel barriers are custom fabricated to match the required system volume.

A traditional approach to containing hazardous materials has been to dike the area and then use ramps or steps as access to the contained area.

While steps work well for personnel access, ramps bring a number of issues. Since the slope of any ramp must be gradual, valuable floor space is forever lost.

This space not only includes the ramp, but also the area of approach and discharge. Ramps have long been recognised as a significant source of wear and tear on forklifts.

They also reduce the productivity of forklifts. More important, ramps pose a real safety hazard for forklifts and their operators. While ramps and dikes may be an effective containment technique, the long term cost is often hidden and can be high.

The spill barriers allow for floor level openings in containment dikes and walls. These openings allow for normal pedestrian and forklift traffic to maintain plant productivity.

For low traffic openings, manual barriers may be left in place to insure a liquid tight seal. For high traffic containment openings, an automatic barrier will close based on spill detection or sprinkler water flow and seals the containment area.

Manual barriers may be appropriate when doorways are only required for a low volume of traffic. To be effective, manual barriers must be in place in the event of an incident.

Manual barriers are dependent upon an operator lifting or pivoting the barrier into position. Operators must ensure that the barrier is secured in the closed position.

An operator cannot be expected to put a manual barrier into position as the result of an incident. If a spill or fire should occur, the operator’s safety comes first and they must quickly evacuate the facility.

The Blobel Environmental Engineering’s model BL/EX or BL/BED may be appropriate for openings that can normally remain closed.

To ensure a truly fail safe containment system, an automatic barrier is the barrier of choice. With an automatic barrier, the opening in the containment wall is normally free and clear, open to both pedestrian and fork lift traffic. Should an incident occur the barrier will close.

There are a number of options for the signal to close the barrier. It can be based on the flow of sprinkler water or detection of a spill.

A remote pushbutton may be used to close the barrier. Any signal from the buildings alarm system can also be used. With a Blobel Environmental Engineering automatic system, the entire containment area can be sealed as soon as an incident is detected.

Automatic barriers are designed to allow safe egress from an area. They also include an audible warning signal. The speed of closure of the barriers can be adjusted to ensure the safety of any personnel in the area.

The design of Blobel automatic barriers requires that the barrier at each opening be reset locally. An operator must physically inspect the containment area before it is possible to open the barrier.

This feature allows any liquid in the containment area to be removed before the doorway is opened and prevents accidental opening of the contained area.

Automatic barriers may be used in conjunction with dikes to permit a foam system (AFFF) to be applied to a limited area of a large facility.

Flammable product can then be stored within a large warehouse without the need to build a separate room. With the barrier and dike system, a signal from the discharge of the foam system will permit the barrier to close and seal to keep the foam in the desired area.

Blobel Environmental Engineering barriers BL/BED-PM or BL/BDD-PM are effective automatic barriers. These barriers do not require pits or any recesses in the floor.

Since they are installed directly on the floor, these barriers can be an ideal choice for existing facilities. Installation of Blobel barriers is straight forward.

For manual barriers, the facility maintenance staff or a local mechanical contractor can perform the installation. For automatic barriers, Blobel Environmental Engineering include installation as part of the proposal.

With Blobel Environmental Engineering doing the installation, all adjustments and sealing is properly performed and local staff can be fully trained. Since the containment barriers are floor mounted, there is little disruption to normal facility activities during the work.

For automatic barriers, the facility will need to provide compressed air, electric power and any signal wiring. The spill containment barriers and systems are suitable ways to protect facilities and the environment from contamination by chemical spills or contaminated fire water while maintaining high productivity.

Blobel Environmental Engineering offer barriers for both new and existing facilities. The barriers are designed to meet the many diverse demands of today’s manufacturing and distribution facilities.