From the archives of the Enforcement and Compliance Listserv for Hazardous Waste Generators

Feb. 20, 2007

Hazardous waste regulations require that every generator (except for conditionally exempt generators) have spill control equipment. Although not specifically required for Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generators, spill equipment can keep a small mess from becoming a much bigger, more expensive mess, and can protect the health and safety of your employees. You are already familiar with most types of spill control equipment. Examples of wet spill control equipment include absorbents (kitty litter, corn cobs, saw dust, etc), mops, buckets, wet vacs, and pumps. If the waste you manage is highly ignitable you may need a specially designed explosion proof pump. Examples of dry spill control equipment include brooms, dust pans, shovels, and tarps. Prevent dry spills such as dust, granules, or powders from becoming airborne by covering immediately with a sweeping compound or a plastic tarp.

In addition to the traditional spill control equipment, you may also need personal protective equipment for your employees. Depending on the type of hazardous waste your company generates you could need goggles, face shields, gloves, booties, respirators, or chemical suits. Choose the appropriate spill control equipment for your business by taking into account your volume of hazardous waste and the specific properties of the waste. Is it ignitable, corrosive, toxic and/or reactive? Is it a volatile liquid that releases fumes that could harm employees? Or is it a thick liquid that when spilled will need to be scraped off the floor?

A few things to remember:

  • make sure your employees are trained to respond to spills, and especially when NOT to perform a cleanup and call for help,
  • regularly check spill control equipment to assure it is still effective and replace or repair when necessary,
  • evaluate your business's need for new spill control equipment as your waste streams change.

It is also a good idea to place spill control equipment in a convenient area near your waste storage area and identify spill control equipment conspicuously with signs. If your facility is large or complex, you might want to include spill control equipment on a map of your facility.

Once the cleanup is performed, it is important that you make the proper hazardous waste determination on the waste resulting from the cleanup, including used spill equipment and personal protective gear. Don't forget, if an ingredient or product is spilled, the spilled material and anything it contaminates (such as mop water, rags, gloves, etc.) may be a listed and/or characteristic hazardous waste. If so, it will need to be managed and disposed as a hazardous waste. For help making a hazardous waste determination review our publication, Does your business generate a hazardous waste? fact sheet--PUB117.

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If you need further assistance, please email or contact the Department of Natural Resources' Hazardous Waste Program at 573-751-7560 or 800-361-4827.

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