Interstate transportation of fuel, oil, or other potentially hazardous liquids leaves plenty of opportunity for minor or even catastrophic spills. To mitigate such risks, tanker trucks and the facilities along their routes should be prepared with the proper secondary spill containment and spill response equipment and training. In many cases, documented preparedness is required by law.
When Do Tanker Trucks Require Secondary Spill Containment?
If tanker trucks are being loaded, unloaded, or staged with hazardous products in their tanks at facilities covered by the SPCC rule, they must comply with EPA secondary containment regulations. The only exclusion is for “mobile refuelers,” which are tanker trucks or similar vehicles that move frequently within a facility, such as an airport, in order to perform refueling operations, as these vehicles are exempt from sized secondary containment provisions, specifically sections 112.8(c)(2) and (11), of the SPCC rule.
Which Facilities are Covered by the SPCC Rule?
A facility with an aggregate aboveground oil storage capacity greater than 1,320 gallons (which includes all storage containers—even 55-gallon drums and IBC totes) or a completely buried storage capacity greater than 42,000 gallons with a reasonable expectation of an oil discharge into or upon navigable waters of the U.S. or adjoining shorelines, must have a Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) plan in place. Keep in mind that these rules are based on capacity, not the actual amount of liquid being stored at any given time.
Spill Containment Berms for Tanker Trucks
Since there are so few options when it comes to spill containment solutions required for tanker truck operations at SPCC-regulated sites and facilities, containment berms (or spill containment “pools,” as they are commonly called) are a common choice. Most spill containment berms consist of a thick PVC or similar material liner surrounded by some kind of flexible sidewall.
The cost of spill containment walls varies, and most are built to order since application needs are equally as diverse. Generally speaking, the cost of a spill containment berm increases as the berm becomes easier to use. In other words: you’re likely going to pay for convenience.
One-Time Setup Drive-In/Drive-Out Spill Containment Berms for Tanker Trucks
The most convenient spill containment berms are those that deploy quickly and allow tanker trucks to be driven into and out of the berm without any manipulation to its sidewalls. This setup is important if you’re driving tanker trucks into and out of the berm several times each day.
Stake Wall Spill Containment Berms
One example of a true drive-in/drive-out spill containment berm is our own stake wall model. The walls of these berms are supported by flexible polyurethane stakes, situated a foot or so apart. When a vehicle drives into or out of the berm, these stakes, which are attached to the sidewalls, allow the wall to flex. Once the weight of the vehicle clears the wall, the stakes snap the sidewall back in place.
Foam Wall Spill Containment Berms
Another example of a spill containment berm that is ready to drive into or out of after initially being deployed is a foam wall berm. These berms use heavy-duty foam block inserts throughout the perimeter of the berm for its sidewall structure. Since the foam returns to its original state after being driven over, these berms are ideal when tanker trucks are constantly moving into and out of the berms. Of course, over time, the foam may wear out but replacement inserts are available for some models.
Since taller foam inserts that also need to flex enough for drive-over operations would likely not be stable enough to contain large spills, most foam wall spill containment berms will have lower sidewalls—around four inches in most cases. This will equate to less containment capacity than standard 12″ sidewalls on some other spill containment berms but also makes for a much more compact and low-profile design.
Modular Spill Containment Berms
When custom sizes and/or dimensions of spill containment are needed, a modular spill containment berm is a great solution. These berms can be configured into just about any shape or size and are made up of coated foam wall blocks that can also be driven over. The entire area is then covered with a PVC fabric, which is secured by inserting rebar or something similar into the integrated channels on top of the foam blocks.
Rapid Rise Spill Containment Berms
For one of the lowest-profile designs, while still offering true drive-in/drive-out functionality, consider a rapid rise spill containment berm. These berms lay completely flat until a spill occurs, at which point foam inserts in the top outer perimeter of the berm’s sidewalls raise the walls with the level of the liquid, while rigid struts provide added support.
Manual Setup Drive-In/Drive-Out Spill Containment Berms for Tanker Trucks
When frequent drive-in/drive-out operations are not required, there are [sometimes] more affordable options available when it comes to spill containment berms for tanker trucks housed at facilities that are required to comply with SPCC rules. Some of these examples can actually be used for drive-in/drive-out operations; however, sidewall manipulation will be required each time.
Collapsible Spill Containment Berms
One affordable option—relative to other spill containment berm options—is a collapsible wall berm. These economical spill containment berms can be deployed relatively quickly with sidewalls that are supported by PVC “feet” that swivel into place. To drive in or out of the berm, one end of the berm’s sidewall will have to be lowered by swiveling the feet in the opposite direction.
Affordable Spill Containment Berms
Similar to the collapsible model is a spill containment berm that uses singular “L” brackets for sidewall support. At UltraTech, we call this our Economy Model and it is our most affordable spill containment berm option.
To drive into and out of a containment berm like this, the sidewall brackets will need to be completely removed from the side being accessed. This takes a bit more effort than the faster “swivel” legs found in our collapsible model. Still, for longer-term containment, it is a great option.
Compact Spill Containment Berms
A less affordable spill containment berm option but one with the lowest possible profile and is super-portable is one that uses flat “struts” as its sidewall support system. Our own compact model containment berm is an example of this design, which is best for longer-term storage needs.
The sidewall struts are connected to the sidewall and tuck into a sleeve that is heat-welded to the sidewall itself. This design is what makes the berm so compact and easy to store. In fact, it could be stored on the tanker truck for use on-site.
Spill Containment Berm Accessories
Since moving equipment into and out of a spill containment berm can cause wear to its liner over time, ground tarps and track belts are available so that they can be replaced instead of the entire berm, as needed. Both are usually made of a tear-resistant polyester blended PVC, designed to withstand the rigors of day-to-day use.
Self-Bailers for Spill Containment Berms
Rainwater is also a concern for outdoor spill containment berms such as those mentioned above. For that, drains can be installed in some models’ sidewalls, which are simple bulkhead fittings with removable plugs. Similarly, self-bailers are available for some berms, which filter out oil and other environmentally dangerous materials so that only the rainwater is removed from the containment berm.
Hose Stands for Spill Containment Berms
During loading and unloading operations of tanker trucks, hoses are usually used. And these hoses can weigh a lot. To keep the hose from crushing the side of the spill containment berm wall, a hose stand can be used. These are lightweight yet rugged units that act as a bridge over a containment berm’s sidewall, supporting most 4″-6.5″ tanker truck hoses.
Spill Containment Walls for Tanker Trucks
Modular Containment Walls
It’s worth mentioning that sometimes tanker trucks are stored for long periods of time, where drive-in/drive-out operations are much less common. More likely, the storage devices used in the loading and unloading of tanker trucks are staged in areas that need to comply with SPCC rules. In these instances, a semi-permanent hard-walled modular spill containment system would be a great choice. These systems, which are built on-site, allow large areas to be designated as safe operational areas, with surrounding areas protected against very large spills.
Spill Containment for On-Site Tanker Truck Operations
Mini-Foam Wall Spill Containment Berms
During loading and unloading operations, or in the case of a small leak, having the right spill response equipment on a tanker truck can help prevent spills from spreading. A “duck pond” is a popular choice for quickly responding to nuisance leaks and spills. These portable, foam-wall containment berms are usually between two and six feet square, with six-inch sidewalls that can contain up to 75-gallons, depending on their size.
Portable Spill Berms
If you can’t completely contain a spill with something like a duck pond but need to stop it from entering a nearby drain, a spill berm or multiples would be a great solution to keep on hand. These non-absorbing, re-usable urethane berms can be deployed very quickly around things you don’t want a spill to get to (or vice-versa). The material they’re made from is somewhat gooey and weeps into cracks and crevasses, forming a barrier that small spills can’t penetrate.
How Much Spill Containment Do You Need?
If you need help figuring out how much spill containment you need for your tanker trucks or facilities, check out our free spill containment calculator.