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Chemical Storage--Storing your chemicals correctly helps to prevent dangerous spills and accidents

By Karen Stretch, regional editor













Place liquid chemicals on lower shelves and dry chemicals above them. This helps prevent liquid chemicals from contaminating dry chemicals, should they leak. Keeping liquids on lower shelves also helps to reduce the risk of accidental spills if the container is knocked off the shelf. Wooden pallets or metal shelves are required for storing granular and dry formulations packaged in sacks, fiber drums, boxes or any other kind of container that is water-permeable. Metal containers that are in storage for long periods of time should be placed on wooden pallets instead of directly on the floor. This helps to reduce potential corrosion and leakage. Sump containers can be purchased to place under pallets to catch and contain any leaks that may occur.


Chemicals are a big part of the landscaping industry; pesticides, herbicides and fungicides keep lawns, shrubs, plants and trees free of unsightly and damaging weeds, insects and disease. But as much as these chemicals help to make a superintendent's job easier, they have the potential to be very dangerous. Proper storage of chemicals is essential--and mandatory--to keep workers who handle the chemicals, as well as people in the vicinity of the chemicals, safe and healthy.

Chemical Storage Buildings

Pre-fabricated chemical storage buildings are designed specifically to store hazardous materials in a safe and secure area in order to prevent the harmful chemicals from leaking into the environment. These buildings should have a secondary containment area, which is a sump area located in the bottom of the building. The sump area is a steel well designed to collect liquids should they spill through a steel grate flooring.

When choosing the size of chemical storage building, consider the number and size of chemical containers you need to store. It is important to remember that regulations limit the number of containers that can be stacked - this affects the amount of floor space required. Also keep in mind the kinds of chemicals you are storing. You may need more than one building or partitions within a building.

Keep your storage unit dry by closing and locking any doors or windows. Adequate ventilation is also a must when storing chemicals. A louvered vent or exhaust fan high at the back of the unit and a louvered air intake vent at the other end will help vapors to flow away from anyone entering the storage unit. It is recommended that an exhaust fan be installed that is capable of exchanging air in the storage unit at least once every six minutes and increasing to every three minutes when pesticide handlers are in the building.

A dry storage unit is important. Water can cause metal containers to rust; paper and cardboard packaging to disintegrate; labels become unreadable and detach; dry formulations will clump, cake, breakdown, or dissolve and release chemicals; cause chemicals to spread from the storage area to other areas of the structure or away from the structure.

Locate the structure in an area that will not be flooded by over-flowing rivers, streams, ditches, runoff or tides. Use tiedowns on portable structures to prevent the building to from tipping, rolling, or moving off site in case of flooding or high winds. It is also important that the storage unit be located down slope from surface waters and wells, animal feeding areas, food or feed storage and other dwellings.






Multiple chemical storage units, or units with partitions within the building, may be necessary when storing large numbers of chemicals. Regulations limit the amount of chemical containers that can be stored and stacked, which affects the amount of floor space required in a storage unit. Whenever large quantities of pesticides are being stored, it is recommended that fire detection sensors and fire-fighting equipment be provided. In the event of an emergency, a floor plan, records related to the storage location, and an annual inventory of the pesticides and containers in storage have to be provided to the emergency response team.


Regulations

Before you purchase a chemical storage unit, you should consult with your local fire marshall; local codes, standards and regulations should be the most important guide during the selection of building features. For example, chemicals classified as 1-A Flammable by the National Fire Protection Association, could require mechanical venting, explosion relief panels and alarms.

There are two types of buildings to consider: Fire Rated and Non-Fire Rated steel buildings. Identify the materials to be stored and then group them by fire hazard. It is a good idea to refer to the appropriate Material Safety Data Sheets that are required by OSHA, and then get in touch with a fire marshall in your area. A detailed analysis can then be made by the Code of Federal Regulations.
Whenever you are storing large quantities of pesticides, it is recommended that fire detection sensors and fire-fighting equipment be provided. In the event of an emergency, a floor plan, records related to the storage location, and an annual inventory of the pesticides and containers in storage have to be provided to the emergency response team. Also indicate the location of the nearest accessible phone and have at least two emergency phone numbers. At least one of the numbers should be for emergency response, and it is a good idea to have the number for a poison control center on hand.






Before purchasing a chemical storage unit, it is important to consult with your local fire marshall. Local codes, standards and regulations should be the most important guide in selecting a chemical storage unit. Storing chemicals classified as 1-A Flammable by the National Fire Protection Association www.nfpa.org, could require mechanical venting, explosion relief panels and alarms.


On the Shelf

Once you've got the proper storage facility for your chemicals, it is important to store them properly inside. Place liquid chemicals on lower shelves and dry chemicals above them. This helps prevent liquid chemicals from contaminating dry chemicals, should they leak. Keeping liquids on lower shelves also helps to reduce the risk of accidental spills if the container is knocked off the shelf.

Wooden pallets or metal shelves are required for storing granular and dry formulations packaged in sacks, fiber drums, boxes or any other kind of container that is water-permeable. Metal containers that are in stored for long periods of time should be placed on wooden pallets instead of directly on the floor. This helps to reduce potential corrosion and leakage.

An exhaust fan should be installed to vent fumes outdoors and reduce the temperature of the unit without endangering people, animals and plants in the area.

Separate herbicides, insecticides and fungicides within the storage unit. This helps to prevent contamination or accidental use of the wrong chemical.






















Signs warning of dangerous chemicals should be posted on the doors and windows of the storage unit.

Proper Labeling

It is important to keep chemicals in their original container with the labels intact and readable. Once they are opened, their shelf life is reduced considerably. Storing chemicals in any container other than the original is a violation of the law - it is also a common cause of accidental poisonings. Store all chemicals away from food, feed, seed, fertilizers, and plants.
Signs warning of dangerous chemicals should be posted on the doors and windows of the storage unit. It is a good idea to post the signs in languages in addition to the signs in English.

Keep pesticides from freezing and extreme high temperatures - most pesticides should be stored between 40? and 90?F. Freezing can cause containers to burst or develop intermittent leaks, or cause formulations to separate. Many pesticide labels say, "Store in a cool, dry place." Most should be stored at temperatures below 90?F. High temperatures can cause plastic to melt or become brittle, or glass to burst. Pressure caused by high temperatures may cause intermittent leaks, swelling or a spill when the product is opened. High temperatures can breakdown some chemicals or cause some chemicals to volatilize. Excessive heat can also cause explosion or fire - insulate your unit to prevent freezing or overheating. Keep containers out of direct sunlight. Don't put containers, especially glass or aerosol containers, in windows, even temporarily.

Spills and Leaks

Check pesticide containers for any existing or potential problems. A leaking container should be transferred into a container with the exact same formulation and label. If not, the leaking container should be stored in a liquid-proof container and disposed of properly. If the spilled or leaked chemical starts to spread, contain the liquid by diking it with soil or sorbent materials, but only if it can be done safely without breathing in harmful fumes.

Never hose down an area that has been contaminated as this could cause the pesticide to seep into the soil, possibly reaching ground water. A drainage system should be built to collect runoff water from the storage unit, which may contain pesticides. All of the collected runoff should be treated as excess chemicals and disposed of properly.






Return properly rinsed chemical containers to a recycling site (show here). The plastic caps and containers are usually made from different materials and are usually recycled separately.


Disposing of Chemicals

Disposing of any leftover chemicals or spilled chemicals properly is extremely important. To rinse an empty pesticide container properly, either pressure rinse or triple rinse the empty container. The University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension suggests the following rinsing techniques:

Pressure Rinsing

  1. Remove cap from the pesticide container. Empty pesticide into the spray tank and allow the container to drain for 30 seconds.
  2. Insert the pressure-rinser nozzle by puncturing through the lower side (not the bottom) of the pesticide container.
  3. Hold the pesticide container upside down over the spray tank opening so rinsate will run into the spray tank.
  4. Rinse for length of time recommended by the manufacturer (usually 30 seconds or more). Rotate the nozzle to rinse all inside surfaces.
  5. Rinse caps in a bucket of water for at least one minute and pour this rinse water into the spray tank.
  6. Return container to supplier or pesticide container recycling site or dispose of the pesticide container according to label directions.

Plastic caps and containers are usually made from different materials, and often are recycled separately.

Triple Rinsing

  1. Remove cap from the pesticide container. Empty all remaining pesticide into the spray tank, allowing the container to drain for 30 seconds.
  2. Fill the container 20 percent full of water or rinse solution (i.e., fertilizer solution).
  3. Secure the pesticide container cap.
  4. Swirl the liquid within the container to rinse all inside surfaces.
  5. Remove the cap from the container.
    Add the rinsate from the pesticide container to spray tank and allow to drain for 30 seconds or more.
  6. Repeat steps 2 through 5 two more times.
  7. Return container to supplier or pesticide container recycling site or dispose of the pesticide container according to label directions. Plastic caps and containers are usually made from different materials and usually are recycled separately.



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June 27, 2019, 2:07 am PDT

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