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West Coast and California Logistics Blog

Hazardous Material Storage: Frequently Asked Questions

Thu, Nov 30, 2017 @ 07:00 AM / by Bob Lilja

If performed incorrectly, hazardous material storage can be an extremely dangerous undertaking.  A single slip up or oversight doesn’t just impact line items on a balance sheet, it puts lives at risk.  With the right provider, however, hazmat storage can be just as safe as the storage of any non-hazmat item. 

To help you understand what the “right provider” might look like, let’s first ensure that we’re clear on the basics by answering some of the rudimentary – yet frequently asked – questions we receive.  


Hazmat Material Storage FAQs

What Constitutes a Hazardous Material?

According to the Institute of Hazardous Materials Management (IHMM), a hazardous material is “is any item or agent (biological, chemical, radiological, and/or physical), which has the potential to cause harm to humans, animals, or the environment, either by itself or through interaction with other factors.” 

hazardous material storage

Such materials include chemicals and toxic substances, and can be classified as physical hazards (e.g., flammable and corrosive chemicals) and/or health hazards (exposure to the material can cause acute or chronic health effects). 

There are 9 different classes of hazardous materials that are further broken down into divisions based on the type of hazard present. 


How are Hazardous Materials Regulated?

Hazardous materials are precisely defined and regulated by government agencies such as the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). 

A prominent example of regulation is OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) which requires chemical manufacturers and importers to prepare labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDS) to communicate hazard information to customers.   The HCS also requires workplaces to share these labels and SDSs with workers, and to provide proper training in relation to each chemical.

Another example of regulation, the DOT regulates the transportation (across all modes: air, highway, rail and water) of hazardous materials through Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (49 CFR). 

Read the Free Weber eBook,  What You Need to Know About Chemical Warehousing

These regulations – HCS, SDS, 49 CFR – are at the forefront of regulations affecting chemical logistics.  They are also enforceable laws which means that violations can result in fines and other serious penalties.  The right chemical logistics partner will be intimately familiar with all relevant regulations to ensure you are 100% compliant.


Can any Warehousing Operation Handle Hazardous Material Storage?

No.  A warehouse – such as that operated by a third-party logistics provider (3PL) – must be certified to handle a hazardous material. The certification process is rigorous and can involve many different government agencies, along with local fire departments, air quality boards and other agencies. Each individual process may require lengthy applications, followed by phone and in-person meetings.

The bureaucracy is thick, but it’s necessary to ensure a safe environment. Since 9/11, security and safety requirements have become strict and unyielding. Regular inspections and unannounced audits can occur at any time.


Can Different Hazardous Materials be Stored Together?

Yes.  As discussed in our recent hazmat chemical storage post, different chemical classes can be stored in the same warehouse but must be stored independently of one another in clearly-marked, segregated areas.  These areas must be separated by approved, non-combustible partitions and/or by a distance of 20 feet or greater. 

Such separation requirements are sometimes necessary for chemicals within the same chemical class.  Examples of this include nitric and perchloric acids, which must be kept separate from organic acids like acetic acid. 


Can Hazardous Materials be Stored with Non-Hazardous Materials?

Yes.  As with storing different types of chemicals in the same warehouse, hazmat materials can be stored in the same facility as non-hazmat materials – provided that any relevant SDS is fully adhered to and separation requirements are met. 


What is CFATS?

Enacted in 2007, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) identifies chemical facilities that constitute the greatest security risk.  Chemical storage facilities that are CFATS-compliant adhere to a set of risk-based performance standards (RBPS) to ensure the safety of their operation. 

As each facility is unique, compliance standards are tailor made by the DHS to suit each of the risk factors present at a given facility. 


What Should I Look for in a Hazardous Material Storage Provider?

The liability and safety risks associated with hazardous material storage and shipping demand a close, careful evaluation of 3PLs and/or other chemical logistics service providers.  This evaluation should include a close look into the provider’s reputation, the background and experience of key personnel, and analysis of the transportation that is likely to be involved (with chemicals, fewer miles are better). 

For a comprehensive guide to evaluating a provider, read the free Weber Insight: What You Need to Know About Chemical Warehousing.  


Hazmat Storage Specialists

When storing chemicals and hazardous materials, you generally have two options.  You can invest the time, resources, and money to build a facility – or upgrade an existing one – so that it can handle hazmat and comply with regulations, or you can partner with a hazmat storage specialist that has already done that work for you.  Such companies have made the necessary investments to upfit their facilities and are ready to handle your products from Day 1.

As an example, Weber Logistics’ chemical storage operation includes:

  • 13 segregated rooms to handle specific product types and temperature ranges.
  • Segregated H2, H3, H7 and S2 occupancy areas.
  • Safety features, such as EE-rated equipment and firewalls.
  • Corrosive Room, oxidizer rooms, temperature-controlled flammable storage and heated rooms (75° - 90°).
  • A team of on-site hazmat specialists that assume responsibility for training, DOT compliance, SARA reporting, SDS training and reporting, and compliance with NFPA, UFC, IATA and OSHA standards.

Turn to Weber Logistics for Hazardous Material Storage

At Weber, chemical logistics has been a company focus for almost 50 years.  We understand the operational and regulatory requirements for handling a range of chemicals. In fact, Weber’s chemical handling processes are a model for the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Training Program. 

This expertise allows us to create the safest environment for our staff and your product.  To learn more about our chemical logistics services, contact Weber today

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Topics: Chemical Logistics, Chemical Storage

Written by Bob Lilja

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