What is Secondary Containment?

What is Secondary Containment?

Secondary containment is a safeguard to primary containment, or the original vessel that stores a chemically dangerous or hazardous waste. The secondary containment of a potentially hazardous material can take a number of forms. 

In the oil and gas industry, secondary containment is used in a variety of locations on an wellsite. Secondary containment is required on all chemicals which may affect human health or the environment. On small batches of chemicals, secondary containment usually takes the form of small trays to catch any leaks or spills.

However, when it comes to the millions of gallons of water used at the typical fracking site, the secondary containment is usually much bigger. Many wellsites have frac ponds, which allow for the containment of flowback and produced waters from the well. These large excavations are lined with various types of plastic to seal the bottom, and hold fracking wastewater runoffs. 

How Secondary Containment Works

The exact methods of secondary containment vary by location, but there are general guidelines laid out by the EPA, as well as more specific regulations in each state. Specifically, many states have regulations regarding the handling and processing of materials in secondary containment. In general, these laws mandate that dangerous, corrosive, or biologically harmful materials be collected and processed in a safe and efficient manner. 

In Texas, there are regulations which define the proper applications of secondary containment systems within the oil and gas industry. These regulations include using proper linings within frac ponds, and disposing of contaminated materials in a safe fashion. In addition, rules stipulate that carriers of wellsite waste must be properly permitted. These rules are intended to prevent contaminants from every escaping secondary containment, even if they manage to escape primary containment. 

At the end of a project, the site must be returned to its original state, and frac ponds and any smaller secondary containment devices must be drained properly. The pit lining must be removed, and the pits restored to their previous condition. West Texas Dumpsters specializes in this process, and can help in many other aspects of wellsite cleanup. They have safety certifications through the Petroleum Education Council, and are certified to remove wellsite waste through the Texas Railroad Commission.

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