Everyday, chemicals, oils and hazardous waste spill out into the environment. Most are small and can easily be collected and disposed of. But leaking valves, pipes and tanks also pollute soil, ground and surface water.
If chemicals end up in wastewater, these can disturb the processes in a wastewater treatment plant. In industry and society in general, it is important to work both proactively to prevent spills and leaks and to have the right equipment in case of emergencies.
Sometimes, accidents do occur. It could be storage tanks that burst, or transportation accidents involving tank cars, boats and trucks, or uncontrolled emissions caused by explosions and fires. A case in point is the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico where the Deepwater Horizon oil platform exploded causing eleven deaths and environmental impact of untold dimensions.
Ikaros, an environmental engineering company, specializes in products to prevent and reduce waste during emergencies and in daily industrial operations.
“We want to reduce the environmental and health aspects of handling oil and chemicals,” says John Efstratiadis, CEO of Ikaros. “We see ourselves as a positive company that invests in product knowledge, prevention, and practical solutions. We can provide equipment and training, and we are now investing in a whole system that we call “Systematic spill protection work” – a kind of environmental management system with special focus on reducing risks and losses of chemicals and oils.”
Chemical safety with proper equipment
Most industrial companies handle solvents, lubricants, oils, cutting fluids, paints and other types of chemical products on a daily basis. Spills, leaks and accidents can occur during transportation, storage and usage.
“We believe that every company should consider the following questions,” says Eftratiadis.
- What are the preventive measures in place and what is the risk analysis?
- Does the company have access to risk and safety information about the chemical products it is using?
- Are chemicals stored in a safe manner from an environmental and fire point of view?
- If an accident happens, does the company have access to spill gear?
“Our Systematic spill protection concept (SSA™) helps companies manage the above issues,” says Niclas Bjorklund at Ikaros. “We analyze the customer’s needs for waste and emergency equipment, and supplies. Furthermore, we create a uniform product for the customer and train key personnel in using the right product at the right place.”
Spill protection is a “material sport”
That overflow protection is a “material sport” becomes apparent when one reads Ikaros’ product portfolio. It contains everything from simple drying products to advanced oil skimmers. What are some of these products that contribute to a better environment?
- Stationary skimmers are used in industry for soil remediation. The oil is sucked from water and is led to a separate tank where it can then be transferred to a suitable storage tank. The collection efficiency for oil is very high (> 99.9%) which means that the residual contamination in the purified water is extremely low.
- Oil detectors used for early warning and monitoring of the presence of hydrocarbons in water. They are used for example in ports, airports and in the intakes of water works.
- Booms used in the collection of oil in oceans, lakes and streams. The most common types of booms float with thick foam blocks. Since each element is approximately one meter long, they are flexible, can be stored on reels and quickly dispatched.
- An environment container is a storage area for flammable liquids, chemicals and hazardous waste. The container, which can hold dozens of drums are fire-rated and can be placed both indoors and outdoors. For storage of large volumes of chemicals there are special fire protection cabinets.
- When disaster strikes you need quick access to decontamination and protective equipment. Ikaros’ spill equipment is packed in spill boxes and the contents are adapted to the risks in the business.
- Storage of drums, barrels and larger vessels in a safe manner is a legislative requirement. In practice, this means that chemicals should be stored in a separate place or that they should be placed in any type of storage tray, collection boxes or on an environmental pallet.
Whether you need a complete spill response vessel at sea, or a place to discharge solvents, you have to find the right product and know how to use it.
“Many people don’t know the difference between open or closed booms. And then some companies routinely buy absorption materials that are not suited to the waste they produce. There are many opportunities for us to contribute improvements and increase cost efficiencies,” says Björklund.
Ikaros is now launching the Systematic spill protection concept (SSA™) to increase the focus on preventative environmental protection work. The setup is very similar to the structure of an environmental management system and includes the following main components:
- Risk analysis
- Access to spill tools tailored to the risk.
- Spill Protection Plan that describes the responsibilities, emergency preparedness, documentation, inspections and monitoring.
- The concept also includes employee training, spill protection and a waste safety inspection exercise.
“The Systematic spill protection concept helps companies to take a holistic approach over its chemicals handling methods. We are convinced that knowledge, systems, and the right equipment can contribute to a better environment and a safer workplace,” concludes Efstratiadis.
This article was published in May 2012