Battery & Critical Equipment Stores – Electrovault

Electrovault logo white

Over two billion Lithium-ion cells are produced every year, but significant safety concerns surround battery storage, quarantine procedures, transport/ disposal of damaged batteries and thermal runaway. During a thermal runaway, the high heat created by the failing cell can develop to the next cell, causing it also to become thermally unstable. A battery pack can be destroyed within minutes or last for hours as each cell runs away. An irreversible thermal event in a lithium-ion battery can be initiated in several ways, by spontaneous internal or external short-circuit, overcharging, external heating or fire or even mechanical abuse. Electrovault provides an ideal battery storage solution.

A thermal runaway releases hydrogen fluoride HF, phosphorus pentafluoride (PF5) and phosphoryl fluoride (POF3), studies have shown that using water as a fire suppressant may also increase the formation of HF.

Our Electrovault storage units are made to comply with RC61 guidelines. We can tailor your Electrovault battery storage solution to suit your specification, whether that is:

  • Atex Rated Temperature control
  • Fire Suppression Systems
  • Atex Rated Gas detection systems
  • Fire Rated (including all Atex internal electrical components where required)
  • Atex Rated Humidity Control
  • Atex Lighting
  • Remote monitoring systems
  • FIFO control operations
  • LIFO control operations
  • Fire-rated and segregated Quarantine areas
  • Restricted access control
  • Fully automated extraction systems

Trust in our reputation for developing and delivering market-leading products and services for hazardous materials handling.

Improving the level of safety in your workplace is where our work begins. From there, we’ll help you reduce your risk, liability and downtime, and therefore increase productivity. Plus, we’ll take you beyond the legal standards for Health & Safety and Corporate Social Responsibility, with products and services that are also designed to exceed your performance expectations.

If you would like to read about our latest product Thermovault please click here

Court Orders 1.6 million Pay-Outs for Historic Spill

Following a large fine and huge clean-up costs, a dry-cleaning business in Ontario, United States were taught an expensive lesson on environmental protection and compliance following a chemical spill.  The following article will investigate exactly what happened and the lessons that need to be learned going forward for companies.

Ontario Superior Court in March instructed the corporation responsible for the spill of dry cleaning solvents from 1960-1974 to pay compensation $1,632,500 for remediation costs and $201,700 for expert costs. (Huang V Fraser Hillary’s Limited) The court ruled Huang V Fraser Hillary’s Limited (Dry Cleaners adjacent to Mr Huang’s properties) guilty of the spill of dry cleaning solvents which resulted in the damage of neighbouring property.

Mr Huang after learning of the contamination of soils and groundwater in the surrounding area of his two properties, decided to take legal action. Tetrachloroethylene & Trichloroethylenewere the substances identified to have caused this contamination.

The court found that for fourteen years these substances were allowed to seep into the ground through dry cleaning filters and the dry cleaning sump in the basement. Also, the chemicals in question were stored in cardboard boxes at the rear of the property and would remain there until the weekly garbage collection. It was also found that the dry cleaners took no steps to solve this problem. In 1974 Fraser Hillary’s Limited installed new dry cleaning machines. The modern technology in these machines resulted in the elimination for potential spills.

 

Spill Contamination

In 2002, it came to Mr Huang’s attention that his properties had suffered substantial damage. Through an environmental consulting firm Mr Huang ordered a site assessment of one of Fraser Hillary’s Limited properties which he was contemplating on buying. The assessment found moderate to high levels of contaminants.

When testifying Mr Huang claimed that because of the contamination his bank refused to provide him with the required funds and refusal to renew his existing mortgage. Also, he added that due to the damages he was unable to develop the properties in question in their present condition and once the issues are addressed he intends to proceed with development plans.

 

Description of chemicals

Tetrachloroethylene (PCE) & Trichloroethylene (TCE): Both colourless liquid substances which are highly volatile and toxic. The substance is hazardous to the aquatic environment. Both have a risk of explosion when in contact with other chemicals such as alkali metals, aluminium and alkali hydroxide. The main intake pathways for are via the respiratory tract and through the skin.

 

PCE Challenge Spill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Hazardous Material Management)

 

Decision of the court

“Section 99 of the Ontario Environmental Protection Act provides for a civil cause of action between private parties, allowing recovery of any loss or damage incurred as a result of, among other things, the spill of a pollutant, from the owner of the pollutant and the person having control of the pollutant. Both the “owner of the pollutant” and the “person having control of the pollutant” are defined in relation to the time immediately before the first discharge of the pollutant”. (Ontario.ca)

 

Even though there was no existing statutory right to compensation for private individuals at the time during which the spills were occurring, the court held that recovery under section 99(2) was still possible because:

  • It was not clear that its application would constitute retroactivity.
  • The presumption against retrospective application is inapplicable where a provision is designed to protect the public.
  • Any presumption against retroactivity is rebutted in this case by the clear intention of the legislature.

The Court found that section 99(2) was intended to provide for compensation now any spill, not simply those that occur after the legislative provision came into effect, and consequently found the defendant corporation liable to the plaintiff as “the owner of the pollutant and the person having control of the pollutant” immediately before it was spilled. (Lexology)

 

The experts confirmed that the substances found in the ground water and soil were from dry cleaning solvents. The court awarded costs to Mr Huang that involved isolating the source of contamination with a permeable reactive barrier and treating Mr Huang’s properties with injections of zero valent iron over an eight to ten-year period.

 

zero-valent-iron-injection spill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Hazardous Material Management)

 

Recommendations

It is clear that Fraser Hillary’s Limited failed to monitor and inspect the environmental and structural integrity of their properties for an extended period of time. Several steps could have been taken to prevent such an incident.

 

Sump (Bund) Maintenance & Integrity Testing

Fraser Hillary’s Limited should have regularly been testing their sump system to make sure it was holding and draining the waste appropriately.

 

Filter Replacement/Servicing

Filters should have been regularly serviced and replaced when necessary. The appropriate storage units should have been present to house these highly hazardous materials.

 

Housekeeping/Facilities Management

It is imperative that all machinery used in a business is inspected and tested on an annual basis. This would prevent the environmental damage but also as a protocol for the safety and well being of the employees operating the machines daily.

As per the Institute for Occupational Safety and Health:

  • All rooms and equipment have to be cleaned regularly.
  • Use protective equipment while cleaning if necessary.
  • Only conduct maintenance and other work on or in the vessel or closed spaces after obtaining written permission.
  • Only work with vessels and lines after they have been thoroughly rinsed.

 

Risk Assessment

Fraser Hillary’s Limited should have used the following basic steps.

Identify the hazards: In this case Fraser Hillary’s Limited should have identified that the chemicals used on a day to day basis were hazardous. Therefor, should have had the appropriate measures in place to prevent these chemicals from being exposed to the environment.

Determine the level of the risk: Fraser Hillary’s Limited should have estimated how likely the hazard is to cause harm and what the harm is likely to be.

Decide on the control measures: in this case Fraser Hillary’s Limited should have had their sump system tested regularly and filters used should have been regularly serviced and replaced when necessary.(HSA.ie)

If you would like to get more information about how to avoid hazardous chemical spills then contact one of our sales engineers today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The expert guide to safe storage of hazardous materials in laboratories.

Introduction

 

From speaking to our existing clients we repeatedly hear of uncertainty and lack of clear information and guidance on how to identify, quantify and alleviate the risks with hazardous materials in the workplace. Without accurate information we understand it makes it difficult to prepare for the risks and to be aware of what hazards are currently in your workplace.

With that in mind, we are here to enable you with the right information and tools to eliminate the risk.

The following guidance document will make it clear what steps you need to take to create a safe and compliant laboratory.

The use of hazardous and volatile materials is part of daily processes in the majority of labs in universities, research facilities and production plants worldwide. It is currently not feasible to avoid the use of hazardous materials and what is often neglected is unsafe storage of these materials. Improper storage of these materials creates a prominent risk to human life, the environment and the business itself.

 

 

 

We have broken down this process down into 4 areas:

 

 

  1. Risk Assessment

  2. Segregation of incompatible materials

  3. Storage of flammable materials

  4. Emergency preparedness and planning

 

 

 

 

1.Risk Assessment

 

Labs across all areas of industry that haven’t undergone an adequate hazardous material storage assessment exhibit common shortcomings. There is often no defined storage system which determines risks with each type of material present in the lab. Such facilities have the following unsafe storage systems and practices:

 

–        Chemicals stored on lab worktops, benches and the floor

–        Materials stored on structurally fragile shelves and above eye level.

–        Not enough storage space for the hazardous material containers

–        Unsafe containers used to store materials e.g. wooden cupboards

–        Gas Cylinders located internally within a lab unnecessarily

–        Flammables not stored in fire rated cabinets

–        Excessive quantities of flammables stored internally within a lab

–        Absence of inventory or stock management system for chemicals in the lab

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tips:

 

  • Planning and forecasting for the exact activities and work that will be carried out in the lab should be documented in advance of the activities beginning. E.g. Distillation, HPLC, GC.
  • Identification of each material that will be used in each process is imperative before the work begins.
  • Quantification of the amount of each material you will require: no more or less than required should be present in the lab at one time.
  • One of the most important checks you need to make is that you have access to the SDS (Safety Data) sheets for each material. The SDS sheets will provide critical information for any material used in your process and the hazards associated.
  • It is a legal requirement under REACH regulations (EC) No. 1907/2006 that the manufacturer/supplier of the materials provide each SDS to you. For best practice you should consult the data sheets for each material before it is stocked in your laboratory.
  •  Once you have identified all of the above it will the enable you to begin assessing the risks that all operators in your lab will be exposed to and how to best mitigate those risks.

 

 

 

2.Segregation of incompatible materials

 

Our team often find when meeting our clients on site that one common practice is forgotten in laboratories. There is often one designated area/cabinet or container for all hazardous materials to be stored internally. Flammables, Oxidisers, Toxic and Corrosive liquids to name a few will be stored together.

Incompatible chemicals need to be segregated according to the hazard classes of each material. This is as important as with an adequate segregation scheme adverse reactions between incompatible chemicals such as oxidisers and flammables can be avoided.

ghs-labels-cut-out

 

Tips:

–  When developing a segregation scheme for chemicals in the lab, your first point to check should be section 2 of the SDS sheets ‘ Hazards Identification ‘

–  Ensure you have adequate space in your facility to allow for safe segregation and storage of each class of material.

– Some materials will have more than one hazard associated. In this case you should always identify the address the most prominent risk first.

e.g. Dimethlychlorosilane is both flammable and corrosive. In this case it would be best practice to address the flammable risk as a priority.sds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Storage of flammable materials

 

There is no doubt that the biggest area for concern our team always highlight with clients is the lack of awareness when storing flammable liquids internally. When carrying out a risk assessment of your laboratory and the hazardous liquids you are using and storing, you should immediately identify the flammable materials. Once you have documented an accurate list, you should then quantify in litres how much flammable materials you absolutely need to store internally in your laboratory.

It is now a legal requirement that flammables must be stored in safety storage cabinets that satisfy the requirements of EN 14470-1.

We would also like to reiterate that where possible the quantities of flammables be kept to a minimum.

Please watch the following video that will certainly portray how the negligent handling and storage of flammable liquids could have serious consequences. Risk is always present when handling and storing flammable liquids, so be the one to act and not react after it’s too late!

 

 

 

 

4.Emergency preparedness and planning.

 

If you neglect the above safety procedures when handling and storing hazardous materials in your lab that you are exposing your employees, the public and the environment to untenable risks.

 

  • Insurance in many cases will become void if a fire or explosion occurs in your facility.
  • The company and its owners will be liable for any damage to persons, property and the environment.
  • Damage to your facility could cause long downtime and incalculable effects to the company’s reputation.

commercial-emergency-planning

In order to create the safest possible environment in your laboratory the final step you need to take is to create an emergency response plan in the event an accident occurs.This plan should be carefully written and shared with all employees. All tier 1 organisations are legally required produce an emergency response plan to the local    authorities as part of COMAH Regulations 2015.

Emergency response plans need to be prepared addressing all four areas above in detail including accident scenarios with the hazardous materials present in you laboratory.  Once this emergency response plan has been drafted and approved by the certified body in your organisation, an open correspondence should be opened with the local emergency services and the Health & Safety authorities detailing this plan.

Conclusion

 From gathering extensive feedback from our valued client base and extensive research carried out throughout our 23 years in business, we are constantly striving to provide our clients with the tools and knowledge to eliminate the risks associated with hazardous material storage in industry.

A key strength of Chemstore throughout its history has been anticipating and responding to the needs of our clients. Increasing the level of safety in your workplace is where our work begins. We will enable you to reduce risk, liability and downtime on your site. We will take your business beyond the legal requirements for health & safety and social responsibility in your organisation.