Over the last several years, the importance of and focus on the environmental impact of your business has increasingly grown.
Now, many companies that may have previously been more concerned about the financial implications of ensuring their business is doing their part for the environment are following suit. Businesses now are more aware about their impact on the environment and are putting actions in place to minimise the risk they present.
However, for businesses who work with harmful fluids and chemicals, environmental risks are increasingly high. The introduction of harmful fluids or chemicals to the surrounding environment is one of the largest dangers your business can present – and the most common way this occurs is through storm water drains.
Reducing the incidence of this kind of contamination is vital for both environmental health and business reputation. While spill containment is often focused on the clean-up of the spill, in the case of drain spills, prevention is just as important.
The compounding consequences of drain spills
Spills aren’t planned, but they still happen. Spill containment can be hard enough in general – but add an open drain into the mix, and problems immediately increase.
Once a spill enters a drain, it’s practically impossible to stop it moving further.
Fluids that make their way into your drains end up in storm water drains, and out into open water, eventually leading to the sea.
This means the damage they can cause is widespread, impacting not only local areas, but the wider environment. Most commonly, you can expect them to cause:
Once a harmful fluid – whether it be a chemical, oil or any other – has entered a drain, it has caused pollution. As it is carried further, it can pollute larger water sources, sand and plant life.
Water pollution will affect living things that rely on the water – most commonly marine life, plants and birds.
As soon as a spill infiltrates a drain, it is your responsibility to notify the EPA. Harmful impact on the environment is taken seriously, so you will be issued with a fine that, depending on the extent of the spill and the type of fluid involved, is likely to be considerable.
Negative impact on business reputation
As the community, and your customers, becomes more environmentally conscious, a spill that damages the local environment is likely to have a significant negative impact on your reputation.
72% of the younger generation are willing to pay more for products and services that come from companies who are committed to positive environmental impact – Nielsen 2015
Identifying your risk factors
Fluids move quickly, and it’s not hard for a spilled fluid to quickly make its way into a nearby drain – sometimes before the spill has even been detected.
Preventative measures help to lessen or completely eliminate the damage of the spill, and give you more time to respond to it without having to worry about the extensive environmental damage it could potentially cause.
To effectively protect yourself – and the environment – from the consequences of an unforeseen spill, simply being aware of your risk factors can help prepare.
- Where are your drains? The location of your drains and where they are in relation to stored fluids can help you act quickly if there’s a spill – or, help you recognise the benefit of storing your fluids elsewhere
- How many drains in each area? Know the number of drains in each area that fluids are present will give you a good idea about the volume of spill equipment that will be needed to effectively clean and prevent spills
- What fluids are present? The type of fluid affects the clean-up and spill products needed, as well as the risk to the environment
- Is there any uneven flooring or an obvious slope? Gravity isn’t your friend – it increases the risk and speed of spilt fluids. Recognising weaknesses of each area where fluids are present will better prepare you to act if a spill occurs.
Knowing the answers to each of these questions will help you put preventative measures in place, and ensure you have the most appropriate equipment to stop a drain spill.
When it comes to drains, prevention rather than cure will help you lower your risk to the environment.
Prevention is better than a cure
When it comes to spill containment, many people think about spill kits and absorbents. But there are actually multiple preventative spill products that more effectively prevent spills reaching drains and the resulting environmental damage.
Once you’ve identified your risk factors, you are then in a position to decide which products will be most effective for your site.
- Bundled pellets: to store fluid drums and catch leakage
- Drain wardens: to sit under your drain gate and catch fluids before the enter the drain
- Weighted drain covers: to quickly cover drains in the event of a large spill
- Weighted containment boom: to surround the spill and stop it from spreading to a drain or downhill
It’s important to remember, however, that not all spill containment products are made equally. When environmental health and conservation is one of the top concerns, it’s important to consider the equipment that you use.
99% of available spill products are made from polypropylene, which won’t breakdown in landfill and is made of unsustainable materials – mostly plastic.
Ensuring that your products are organic, sustainably made and can be safely disposed of in landfill means that your efforts to stop harmful fluids impacting the environment isn’t going to waste.
Enretech are the winner of the world’s best organic absorbent for hard surfaces, and make all their spill products from biodegradable, sustainably sourced materials.
For more information about environmentally stable spill practices, or to explore your options of preventative spill products, click here. Alternatively, if you would like to get in touch with me, email me here or call me on 0488 232 741.