A chemical spill requires an adequate and appropriate response in order to protect sensitive environments and prevent pollution from spreading to nearby water and air sources.
Developing an effective emergency spill response plan is an essential Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) requirement for mine site operators, particularly those who are handling mobile equipment, according to Steve Keown.
“Whether its fuel, lubricants, or coolant, mobile equipment has the potential to spring a leak while out in the field, and an incidental chemical spill that occurs while working remotely can pose a significant OHS risk if a large spill occurs and workers are underprepared,” says the BSC National Product Manager.
As for the gravity of the damage a spill can cause, that depends largely on how effectively the spill is managed by on-site personnel, Steve cautions. “It will not suffice for site managers to hope for the best on these applications, it is essential that they prepare for the worst-case scenario.”
In Australia, the Environment Protection Act 20171 (EP Act) and Environment Protection Regulations 2021 (EP Regulations) now require all businesses to take proactive steps in managing the risks of spillage.1
According to Steve, there are few companies who have invested as much into aligning with regulations and preparing for worst-case scenarios as ENPAC, an American company that was founded on one simple principle: “To protect the environment from hazardous chemicals by providing customers with high quality, affordable containment solutions.”
“ENPAC spill containment products have been used by the United States military and government organisations for decades, only recently being introduced into a more commercial market,” says Steve.
“The team at BSC has been working closely with ENPAC Australia to offer our customers the most appropriate solution for spill containment — taking into consideration potential spill volumes, various types of liquids and how to account for the surrounding terrain,” he explains.
“Readying mobile spill bunding kits on site is the most effective way to provide workers with a quick way of containing an unexpected leak, curbing run off from the spill, and minimising clean-up costs.”
The range of flexible bunding solutions ENPAC manufactures are ideal for emergency mobile spill containment and can be conveniently stored and carried by mobile operators, to be placed quickly under equipment in the event of an equipment failure or a leak.
“For larger leaks, sites can ready a mobile maintenance equipment setup with ‘drive in, drive out’ capability,” explains Steve. “In this instance, the leaking equipment can be driven or towed onto the spill bunding and enclosed to prevent the spill from breaching the surroundings.”
Amongst ENPAC’s spill containment offerings are stinger snap up berms that can contain up to 33,000 litres of liquid; drip pillows; drip dams; leak divertors; and portable prowler pools that can contain spills of up to 560 litres.
“The spill containment berms and duck ponds are great portable spill containment solutions for mobile equipment,” says Steve. “Not only will taking heed on these preventative measures benefit the health of workers and the environment, but it will also save valuable time and resources.”
“Developing an appropriate mobile spill prevention plan could be as simple as an off the shelf product, or it could mean a day out on the mine site for one of our team,” concludes Steve. “We work with our Enpac Account Manager to assess the points of concern, drains, creeks, or particularly dangerous product on site. We want to ensure that we are offering the safest and most effective spill solutions to our customers.”
- Environment Protection Authority Victoria, 1823.1: Mining and quarrying – guide to preventing harm to people and the environment https://www.epa.vic.gov.au/about-epa/publications/1823-1
How to clean up a spill
- Clear the area of all non-essential personnel.
- Gather all the necessary spill equipment.
- Put on PPE equipment: Standard PPE items are goggles and chemically resistant gloves
- Seal drains with covers to prevent ground water contamination
- Surround the spill with absorbent socks to prevent further spread
- Soak up most of the spill up with absorbent pads
- Clean up the remaining waste with granular absorbent such as Ensorb by Enpac
- Dispose of pads and granular waste in appropriate hazardous waste containment such as a drum
- Move drum to safe area for collection and alert the appropriate pick-up parties
- Always take environmental precautions.
- Complete the accident report forms and report any spills in line with local government requirements
- Replenish all used emergency response equipment