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Separation, Isolation and Storage of Hazardous Liquids

The improper storage of corrosives and flammable liquids is the leading cause of spills that can result in damage to facilities and impact worker safety. One of the most effective practices to help minimize damage from chemical spills is to isolate the various chemical hazards. Since knowledge of chemical compatibility is critical, it is important to understand that there are two major types of chemical hazards that require their own unique storage and transfer protocols. The two types of chemicals that pose the greatest risk can be classified as either:

Corrosive materials, which include acids and bases
Flammable or combustible liquids

Corrosive materials have the potential to severely damage surfaces or other substances it contacts. Physical hazards to workers include chemical burns, skin or eye damage; and inhalation or ingestion of a corrosive liquid can cause respiratory damage.

Flammable and combustible liquids are defined by their flash points. A liquid's flash point is a function of its vapor pressure and boiling point. Flammable and combustible liquids are classified by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) based on their flash points:

Flammable Liquids (Class I): Liquids with flash points below 100°F (37.8°C) and vapor pressures not exceeding 40 pounds per square inch (absolute) at 100°F (37.8°C).

Combustible Liquids (Classes II and III): Liquids having flash points at or above 100°F (37.8°C).

The most effective way to isolate your flammable and corrosive hazards is to store them properly in approved safety storage containers and cabinets. Using the correct flammable storage (gas cans) or chemical storage containers are the first line of defense. The next step is to utilize the appropriate chemical safety storage cabinets in order to isolate corrosive liquids and flammable liquids from other incompatible chemicals; and to contain the hazards in the event of spill or leakage.

Summary of Chemical Storage Guidelines

• You should use approved flammable storage lockers or flammable storage containers to store flammable and combustible liquids

• You should ensure that all container caps and lids are securely tightened to prevent leaks and evaporation.

• You should segregate incompatible chemicals such as oxidizing acids and flammable solvents in separate locations to prevent potential mixing of incompatible chemicals which can produce harmful vapors, heat or cause fire and explosions.

• You should store hazardous materials away from heat and direct sunlight to prevent chemical degradation or the deterioration of storage containers and labels.

• In order to minimize the impact and spread of spills resulting from damaged or leaking containers hazardous liquids and materials should be stored in areas that also provide for secondary containment.

• Secondary containment capacity must be 110% of the largest container or 10% of the aggregate volume of all containers, which-ever is larger.

• Secondary containment is available in different materials which provide varying resistance to different chemicals.

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