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Passive or active: what’s the best approach for spill containment?

“Active” and “passive” aren’t just options for sitting on the couch or going for a 5km run; they’re also terms in plans for “spill control and countermeasures” – which has its own acronym: SPCC.

So if even if you haven’t just come in from a run, now’s the time to sit passively and actively read what the go is with “active” and “passive” when it comes to spill containment.

Basically, the terms describe two ways to comply with SPCC general secondary spill containment requirements that deal with the most likely discharge (whether it’s from a container or equipment). Typically, these types of spills are smaller and more easily contained than a worst-case discharge.

Passive spill containment

Passive containment is preemptive: it’s what you put into place to contain spills before they happen. The term “passive” comes in because these devices control the situation by themselves without you actively needing to get involved.

You can set up either permanent or semi-permanent containment for continuous, reliable protection. This is particularly helpful for remote sites that may not be routinely staffed. Passive spill containment systems also give you peace of mind in containing potential, disastrous spills.

Passive spill containment devices include:

Active spill containment

Active containment, as you’ve no doubt worked out, means someone has to actually take action to put the containment devices in place. It doesn’t matter if the containment device is deployed before an activity begins or in reaction to a discharge, all it means is that it needs people to “do something”.

Active spill containment measures include:

  • putting drain covers over storm drains before doing an oil transfer
  • placing drain covers over storm drains during spill response
  • using a spill kit to clean up a spill
  • closing gate valves before an oil discharge

Keep in mind that active containment measures outlined in your SPCC plan must clearly specify the people available to deploy the solutions listed. (This blog on training and outlining duties is a good reminder.)

Like some active guidance in active and passive containment? Call 1800 HOT HOG (468 464), or email us for help.

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