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Incident in Elk River Reinforces Benefits of Steel Drums

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

As state and federal regulators investigate the causes behind the bulk storage tank that leaked and tainted water supplies in Charleston, W. Va., the Industrial Steel Drum Institute (ISDI) encourages all stakeholders involved in the transportation and storage of hazardous and non-hazardous materials to put safety and security first.

The storage tanks located at Freedom Industries’ facility in Elk River, W. Va., fall outside the current regulatory scheme designed to protect public health and the environment in that owners and operators were not required to inspect the tanks periodically.

“Steel drums, though lower in capacity, may have been a better choice to ensure the safe transportation and storage of this material,” said Susan Nauman, ISDI’s Executive Director. “If steel drums were used at the site in West Virginia, at the very least a spill of this type would be limited to less than 55 gallons instead of the estimated 7,500 gallons that entered the Elk River.”

Steel drum manufacturers certify their products for conformance with regulations from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Prior to release for use, every steel drum is 100 percent leak tested, and must undergo compliance testing and periodic retesting. Bearing a U.N./D.O.T. mark ensures that a drum is properly made and complies to the highest degree of security and safety.

“Making safety and security top priorities when it comes to chemical storage, rather than cost as is too often the case, will go a long way toward preventing similar incidents in the future,” Nauman said.

To learn more about the safety and security of steel drums, visit http://whysteeldrums.org/why-steel-drums/safety-security/. Read Alert 14-09 to learn more about the required markings for steel drums. Alert 14-15 provides more insight into ISDI’s position on this topic.

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