Why Drum Disposal is important?
Many companies and business uses drums to store waste, chemical products and other materials. If not managed properly, an empty drum and its residues become a liability. Residues can contaminate water, soil and groundwater.
Proper Drum Disposal and Recycling is very important because regulations restrict the dumping of such material in a landfill. Is important to follow proper procedures and have an appropriate plan established for disposing drums once they are totally empty. Empty drums not properly managed can lead to many problems for the company responsible for their care.
Accidents may occur during handling of drums and other hazardous waste containers. Hazards include detonations, fires, explosions, vapor generation, and physical injury resulting from moving heavy containers by hand and working around stacked drums, heavy equipment, and deteriorated drums. Drums and containers are regulated under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Drum Disposal must be in compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations.
Many countries encourages the reuse and recycling of properly prepared 55-gallon steel drums. Since many drums may contain, or may have contained, hazardous materials that could contaminate groundwater or lead to personnel health and safety concerns, it is imperative that operators of solid waste facilities be informed about the best management practices for collecting and processing drums. Drums not properly managed can lead to expensive liabilities for communities or businesses, such as testing, removal, and disposal as well as contaminated soil and groundwater that will also have to be disposed of properly or treated.
Handling Drums and Other Containers
OSHA regulations (29 CFR Parts 1910 and 1926) include general requirements and standards for storing, containing, and handling chemicals and containers, and for maintaining equipment used for handling materials. EPA regulations (40 CFR Part 265) stipulate requirements for types of containers, maintenance of containers and containment structures, and design and maintenance of storage areas. DOT regulations (49 CFR Parts 171 through 178) also stipulate requirements for containers and procedures for shipment of hazardous wastes.
The appropriate procedures for handling drums depend on the drum contents. Thus, prior to any handling, drums should be visually inspected to gain as much information as possible about their contents. The inspection crew should look for:
- Symbols, words, or other marks on the drum indicating that its contents are hazardous, e.g., radioactive, explosive, corrosive, toxic, flammable.
- Symbols, words, or other marks on a drum indicating that it contains discarded laboratory chemicals, reagents, or other potentially dangerous materials in small-volume individual containers.
- Signs of deterioration such as corrosion, rust, and leaks.
- Signs that the drum is under pressure such as swelling and bulging.
- Drum type.
- Configuration of the drumhead.
Conditions in the immediate vicinity of the drums may provide information about drum contents and their associated hazards. Monitoring should be conducted around the drums using instruments such as a gamma radiation survey instrument, organic vapor monitors, and a combustible gas meter. The results of this survey can be used to classify the drums into preliminary hazard categories, for example:
- Contains small-volume individual containers of laboratory wastes or other dangerous materials.
As a precautionary measure, personnel should assume that unlabelled drums contain hazardous materials until their contents are characterized. Also, they should bear in mind that drums are frequently mislabeled-particularly drums that are reused. Thus, a drum's label may not accurately describe its contents.
If buried drums are suspected, ground-penetrating systems, such as electromagnetic wave, electrical resistivity, ground-penetrating radar, magnetometry, and metal detection, can be used to estimate the location and depth of the drums.
|Polyethylene or PVCLined Drums||Often contain strong acids or bases. If the lining is punctured, the substance usually quickly corrodes the steel, resulting in a significant leak or spill.|
|Exotic Metal Drums (e.g., aluminum, nickel, stainless steel, or other unusual metal)||Very expensive drums that usually contain an extremely dangerous material.|
|Single-Walled Drums Used as a Pressure Vessel||These drums have fittings for both product filling and placement of an inert gas, such as nitrogen. May contain reactive, flammable, or explosive substances.|
|Laboratory Packs||Used for disposal of expired chemicals and process samples from university laboratories, hospitals, and similar institutions. Individual containers within the lab pack are often not packed in absorbent material. They may contain incompatible materials, radioisotopes, shock-sensitive, highly volatile, highly corrosive, or very toxic exotic chemicals. Laboratory packs can be an ignition source for fires at hazardous waste sites.|
The purpose of handling is to (1) respond to any obvious problems that might impair worker safety, such as radioactivity, leakage, or the presence of explosive substances, (2) unstack and orient drums for sampling, and (3) if necessary, to organize drums into different areas on site to facilitate characterization and remedial action. Handling may or may not be necessary, depending on how the drums are positioned at a site.
Since accidents occur frequently during handling, particularly initial handling, drums should only be handled if necessary.
Prior to handling, all personnel should be warned about the hazards of handling, and instructed to minimize handling as much as possible and to avoid unnecessary handling. In all phases of handling, personnel should be alert for new information about potential hazards. These hazards should be responded to before continuing with more routine handling operations.
Overpack drums (larger drums in which leaking or damaged drums are placed for storage or shipment and an adequate volume of absorbent should be kept near areas where minor spills may occur. Where major spills may occur, a containment berm adequate to contain the entire volume of liquid in the drums should be constructed before any handling takes place.
If the drum contents spill, personnel trained in spill response should be used to isolate and contain the spill.
Several types of equipment can be used to move drums: (1) A drum grappler attached to a hydraulic excavator; (2) a small front-end loader, which can be either loaded manually or equipped with a bucket sling; (3) a rough terrain forklift; (4) a roller conveyor equipped with solid rollers; and (5) drum carts designed specifically for drum handling. Drums are also sometimes moved manually. The drum grappler is the preferred piece of equipment for drum handling. It keeps the operator removed from the drums so that there is less likelihood of injury if the drums detonate or rupture. If a drum is leaking, the operator can stop the leak by rotating the drum and immediately placing it into an overpack. In case of an explosion, grappler claws help protect the operator by partially deflecting the force of the explosion.
The following procedures can be used to maximize worker safety during drum handling and movement:
- Train personnel in proper lifting and moving techniques to prevent back injuries.
- Make sure the vehicle selected has sufficient rated load capacity to handle the anticipated loads, and make sure the vehicle can operate smoothly on the available road surface.
- Air condition the cabs of vehicles to increase operator efficiency; protect the operator with heavy splash shields.
- Supply operators with appropriate respiratory protective equipment when needed. Normally either a combination SCBA/SAR with the air tank fastened to the vehicle, or an airline respirator and an escape SCBA are used because of the high potential hazards of drum handling. This improves operator efficiency and provides protection in case the operator must abandon the equipment.
- Have overpacks ready before any attempt is made to move drums.
- Before moving anything, determine the most appropriate sequence in which the various drums and other containers should be moved. For example, small containers may have to be removed first to permit heavy equipment to enter and move the drums.
- Exercise extreme caution in handling drums that are not intact and tightly sealed.
- Ensure that operators have a clear view of the roadway when carrying drums. Where necessary, have ground workers available to guide the operator's motion.
Drums Containing Radioactive Waste
If the drum exhibits radiation levels above background (see Table 6-2) immediately contact a health physicist. Do not handle any drums that are determined to be radioactive until persons with expertise in this area have been consulted.
Drums that May Contain Explosive or Shock-Sensitive Waste
- If a drum is suspected to contain explosive or shock-sensitive waste as determined by visual inspection, seek specialized assistance before any handling.
- If handling is necessary, handle these drums with extreme caution.
- Prior to handling these drums, make sure all nonessential personnel have moved a safe distance away.
- Use a grappler unit constructed for explosive containment for initial handling of such drums.
- Palletize the drums prior to transport. Secure drums to pallets.
- Use an audible siren signal system, similar to that employed in conventional blasting operations, to signal the commencement and completion of explosive waste handling activities.
- Maintain continuous communication with the Site Safety Officer and/or the command post until drum handling operations are complete. 11-6
- Pressurized drums are extremely hazardous. Wherever possible, do not move drums that may be under internal pressure, as evidenced by bulging or swelling.
- If a pressurized drum has to be moved, whenever possible handle the drum with a grappler unit constructed for explosive containment. Either move the bulged drum only as far as necessary to allow seating on firm ground, or carefully overpack the drum. Exercise extreme caution when working with or adjacent to potentially pressurized drums.
Drums Containing Packaged Laboratory Wastes (Lab Packs)
Laboratory packs (i.e., drums containing individual containers of laboratory materials normally surrounded by cushioning absorbent material) can be an ignition source for fires at hazardous waste sites. They sometimes contain shock-sensitive materials. Such containers should be considered to hold explosive or shock-sensitive wastes until otherwise characterized. If handling is required, the following precautions are among those that should be taken:
- Prior to handling or transporting lab packs, make sure all non-essential personnel have moved a safe distance away.
- Whenever possible, use a grappler unit constructed for explosive containment for initial handling of such drums.
- Maintain continuous communication with the Site Safety Officer and/or the command post until handling operations are complete.
- Once a lab pack has been opened, have a chemist inspect, classify, and segregate the bottles within it, without opening them, according to the hazards of the wastes. An example of a system for classifying lab pack wastes is provided in Table 11-3. The objective of a classification system is to ensure safe segregation of the lab packs' contents. Pack these bottles with sufficient cushioning and absorption materials to prevent excessive movement of the bottles and to absorb all free liquids, and ship them to an approved disposal facility.
- If crystalline material is noted at the neck of any bottle, handle it as a shock-sensitive waste, due to the potential presence of picric acid or other similar material, and get expert advice before attempting to handle it.
- Palletize the repacked drums prior to transport. Secure the drums to pallets.
Leaking, Open, and Deteriorated Drums
- If a drum containing a liquid cannot be moved without rupture, immediately transfer its contents to a sound drum using a pump designed for transferring that liquid.
- Using a drum grappler, place immediately in overpack containers:
- Leaking drums that contain sludges or semi-solids.
- Open drums that contain liquid or solid waste.
- Deteriorated drums that can be moved without rupture.
- Prior to initiating subsurface excavation, use ground penetrating systems to estimate the location and depth of the drums (see Inspection in this chapter).
- Remove soil with great caution to minimize the potential for drum rupture.
- Have a dry chemical fire extinguisher on hand to control small fires.
|Inorganic acids||Hydrochloric Sulfuric|
|Inorganic bases||Sodium hydroxide Potassium hydroxide|
|Strong oxidizing agents||Ammonium nitrate Barium nitrate Sodium chlorate Sodium peroxide|
|Strong reducing agents||Sodium thiosulfate Oxalic acid Sodium sulphite|
|Anhydrous organics and organometallics||Tetraethyl lead Penylmercuric chloride|
|Anhydrous inorganics and metal hydrides||Potassium hydride Sodium hydride Sodium metal Potassium|
|Toxic organics||PCBs Insecticides|
|Flammable organics||Hexane Toluene Acetone|
|Inorganics||Sodium carbonate Potassium chloride|
|Inorganic cyanides||Potassium cyanide Sodium cyanide Copper cyanide|
|Toxic metals||Arsenic Cadmium Lead Mercury|
The appropriate procedures for handling drums depend on the drum contents. For more information download the following OSHA Regulation PDF File