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The rise of telecommunications services and electronics use is increasing installations of stationary lead-acid batteries (SLAB). SLABs provide power for telecommunication distribution centers, UPS systems, and other applications. The wide-spread use of these units leds to increased concerns over safety and environmental hazards that can result from proper battery containment failure.
Currently, local, state, and federal regulations governing installation and safe operation exist. Many companies struggle with compliance, as it is complex, frustrating, and expensive. However, noncompliance is dangerous, inefficient, and even more expensive.
Although batteries provide clean, efficient power, SLAB installations pose safety and environmental threats if these units spill or leak. SLABS units, including flooded-cell and valve-regulated lead-acid (VRLA) types, use lead and sulfuric acid. If these chemicals leak, they can cause worker injuries, fire, hydrogen explosions, and groundwater and soil contamination — not to mention the attendant fines, lawsuits and loss of insurance.
Proper battery spill containment ensures safety, prevents environmental damage, and protects your business revenue. State and local governments require battery containment compliance. These codes require:
On the federal level, the EPA enforces the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). This regulation stems from the Resources Conservation Recovery Act (RCRA) and the Right to Know Act. The Right to Know Act requires businesses to report the storage of any hazardous materials exceeding 500 lb — including batteries.
The RCRA states that any materials exceeding 500 lb (10 lb equals 1 gal of electrolyte) must have liquid-tight, secondary containment systems.
Additionally, an OSHA federal regulation addresses worker safety issues in the presence of flooded-cell batteries. To protect workforces, this regulation requires:
In addition, recent amendments to Article 64 of the Uniform Fire Code (UFC) expanded spill containment requirements. The new requirements include VRLA batteries if the minimum electrolyte-capacity thresholds of battery systems are greater than 50 gal and individual jars are greater than 20 gal. In addition, legislation currently under review by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the National Electrical Code (NEC) may increase the scope of enforcement.
Protect your business, your resources and your worksite with the right containment solution. Polystar Containment’s staff of containment solution experts help you choose the right solution for your industry and needs. Browse our collection of chemical containment products or contact us to learn more about Polystar Containment’s secondary containment and spill prevention systems.
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- Deborah K. Whitley (Deb) Fort Bragg, N.C. Bladder Dike MPE Utilized by Special Forces Overseas.