Storing and handling chemicals for wastewater treatment

Blog » Storing and handling chemicals for wastewater treatment

For wastewater treatment chemicals that are used within the US, it’s imperative to know what the regulations are for the chemicals that you use at your site. Of course, there are nation lists of chemicals that you must report in documents like the Tier II, Form R, and TRI. You must submit these reports annually and disclose which chemicals you have stored, as well as the volumes you’ve kept onsite.

Making changes to chemical processes

Additional coordination with your local municipality or the wastewater treatment plant (where you discharge your treated water to) is also essential. Prior to making any changes to processes within your wastewater treatment plant, you need to ensure that those changes keep you within the scope of your operating permit. You also need to make sure that changes don’t have an unexpected consequence on the wastewater treatment plant.

There are many enterprises that treat their water. When discharging water to the local municipalities, wastewater treatment plants may not realize that the enterprise contributes anywhere from 5 to 25% of the entire municipal system.

A change that keeps you inside of the scope of your permit can have major effects on how the municipality manages their system. Communication is so critical in this relationship.

The municipality may ask your business to hold off on a proposed change. It may also have additional ideas on how to best work together to make additional changes. This can increase sustainability efforts with both the municipality and your business in the long run.

Fire code standards and system transfer

It’s also important to follow international fire code standards for storing and managing chemicals in large quantities. Some applications for permits require you to submit a hazardous materials inventory statement (HMIS). According to the ICC, these are the pieces of information you need to include on the HMIS:

  • Product name
  • Component
  • Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) number
  • Container size
  • Hazard classification
  • Location or storage or use
  • Amount stored
  • Amount in use (closed systems)
  • Amount in use (open systems)

In my experience, what is typically overlooked is that when you transfer flammable liquids, you need to guarantee that the equipment is grounded before you do so. This includes instances where you’re either pouring liquid into the system for use or pouring it into a waste disposal container at the end of the product’s life.

This is an inexpensive process that I would make sure gets audited weekly to ensure that any removable grounding devices are attached to the instrument.

Training in chemicals for wastewater treatment

Employees who manage wastewater treatment chemicals need to go through hazard communication (HazCom) training. This training is an OSHA requirement based on the GHS standards.

It should contain all requirements for how to store, manage, handle, and dispose of chemicals. Additionally, it should teach employees what PPE is required and who is allowed to manage these chemicals.

If you expect your employees to manage the removal of these chemicals as waste, you also need to train them in DOT and RCRA. Sites that have an SPCC or SWPCC program should train employees how to handle chemicals for wastewater treatment as well.

[You can download a free Hazard Communication training course here.]

Storage requirements and recommendations

Any chemicals stored onsite need to be stored in the proper type of containers and cabinets.

Flammables need to be stored in a grounded flammable cabinet and corrosives need to be stored in grounded corrosives cabinet.

It’s important to know that these cabinets can sometimes hold more physical bottles or containers than the cabinets are actually rated for. Just because you can fit all the bottles into the cabinet doesn’t mean that you’re using the cabinets properly.

Flammable and corrosive cabinets should have a storage limit declared on the front. There are also limits as to how many flammable or corrosive cabinets you can store in a given area without additional fire suppression or explosion proof electrical systems. It’s best to verify your storage plans or any operational changes with a professional engineer prior to construction. That way, you can ensure that your process will comply with local regulations.

Monica Kinsey

Monica is a former warehouse operations manager with a passion for workplace safety. Her favorite topics to cover include safety leadership and continuous improvement.