It’s 8:00pm – Do You Know Where Your Chemicals Are Stored?
Over the last 10 years, chemicals have become an important part of the global production supply chain. However, as the global supply chain has grown, so has consumer awareness regarding the risks some of these chemicals pose to the environment and individual health. One area that consumers are particularly concerned about is the locations companies use to store their chemicals. How efficiently could your company address these concerns if they were to arise in your area? Having important information such as this easily accessible can help alleviate any worry or concern people may have.
Consumers are particularly aware of this issue due to the Elk River chemical spill in West Virginia, which occurred last January. The effects of the spill were devastating to Charleston, where people couldn’t even bath in the water and many businesses were forced to close because of the spill.
Shortly after the spill was announced, West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) decided that an inventory all of the chemical storage facilities that were located along the Elk River was needed to help prevent further accidents. According to the Charleston Gazette, they began by pulling all of the “water-pollution permit information, compared that to mapping data that pinpointed water-intake locations, and then went through permit files to identify facilities with plans showing storage tanks.” Ultimately, they were able to come up with an informal inventory of about 1000 storage tanks.
Last week, the DEP announced that they had discovered an additional 600 aboveground chemical storage tanks, bringing the total to slightly over 1600 tanks located on or near the Elk River. According to Scott Mandirola, Director of the DEP’s Division of Water and Waste Management, “we didn’t have an easy way to figure this out, knowing where all these are.” It appears that West Virginia’s DEP was trying to create an independent list of chemical storage tanks. However, I wonder if they had asked the companies located along the river to provide a list of chemical storage locations, would the companies have been able to “easily” give them a list? Would you be able to easily provide a list with location specific information regarding chemical storage if your state’s version of the DEP were to ask for it?
If you answered “no” to the above questions, it may be beneficial to address the issue now. Currently, the U.S. Senate is considering new legislation that would require more frequent inspections of chemical storage facilities. This means that companies that use and store chemicals are going to have to provide detailed information regarding their exact location to regulators for inspection.
One way to tackle this task would be to invest in a best practices chemical management system that allows you to track chemicals by location, owner, container type and total amount. The system should also provide you with a way to find chemicals in the database using a multiple criteria search. In addition, the best chemical systems also utilize barcoding to help track chemical inventory from reception to storage and finally to disposal.
We have a corporate responsibility to effectively manage the chemicals that we include in our products. This includes knowing specifically where they are located. If you need help tracking your chemical inventories, please visit our website today.