Case Study: Pharma Laboratory Hazmat Storage, Part 1


Application: Pharmaceutical Chemical Transfer Process

The excess hazardous materials from a pharmaceutical manufacturing process must be strategically transferred from their manufacturing and laboratory facilities’ into a compliant 90 day storage facility where the material is readied for proper disposal.

The Transfer Operation

Hazmat is collected from multiple on-site facilities, both manufacturing and laboratory wastes, where 55 gallon drums are then stored in divided sections within the 90 day storage facility. The hazardous drums are then transferred to a chemical storage building, where the drums are stored on pallets and prepared for the next transfer process to a 90-day chemical storage building. Leaking/bulging drums are stored on special containment pallets, to contain any leaking material. Like materials are combined for more economical disposal. During the combination process, hazardous fumes must be removed from the drum interior using nitrogen blanketing and a snorkel exhauster, drum grounding, and supplied air to the operator are also available. The transfer building is designed to compliantly rid the toxic fumes to prepare drums to be safely stored into 90-day storage.

Nitrogen Blanketing:

Nitrogen blanketing is a process of applying a gas to the vapor space of a container or drum in order to make the vapor space inert. Blanketing prevents air and other contaminants from infiltrating the chemicals and prevents the chemicals from reacting. An exhaust snorkel is used in conjunction with the nitrogen purge to vent any excess fumes during the process of chemical transfer. The chemical drums are then transferred into 90 day storage where they remain fully compliant.

Hazardous Materials:

Hazardous materials are considered dangerous substances that contain properties that can potentially harm human health or the environment. Hazardous materials can include any type of chemicals, metals, or substances that are byproducts during the commercial manufacturing processes. Risks involved with handling hazmat waste can be dangerous and proper laboratory procedures must be met for the disposal process.

US Chemical Storage Custom Transfer Solution

US Chemical Storage designed and manufactured a fully compliant fire-rated chemical storage building to meet our client’s specifications. Since the hazardous materials being transferred into this building are flammable, we customized a 2-hour, fire-rated FIREloc building with dimensions of 32 feet by 14 feet. In this building personnel traffic was estimated to be high so the building was constructed with diamond plate flooring to prevent trip hazards and personnel from slipping, over a 1200 gallon poly lined sump. The diamond plate flooring provides for a strong foundation when transferring large volumes of inventory in and out of the building. This type of flooring is designed for industrial use and is rust and corrosion resistant. Transfer Building’s Safety Accessories This building was installed with an eyewash-shower station which features an accessible flow switch to initiate water flow, in case a worker encounters a hazardous accident. In the event of the eyewash-shower station being initiated an alarm travels to the central receiving station, notifying officials the eye wash station has been used. This provides real-time information that someone is in danger, allowing emergency personnel to respond quickly. Gas detectors and oxygen sensors were installed to check thresholds for limits on nitrogen when filling the drums and for monitoring safe oxygen levels for personnel and authorized officials.

Gas Detection

The gas vapor detector is designed to check for limits of vapors that may cause harm to personnel working inside the transfer building. When working with nitrogen gas dosing drums, the level of nitrogen must always be monitored to avoid the potential risk of asphyxiation to personnel. If there is a problem with the operator there is a ‘mushroom duress’ alarm, which, when initiated, an audible alarm sounds and a signal is sent to the central receiving station. There is an audible alarm/strobe on the outside of the building for all alarms and sensors installed on the transfer building. Since the working conditions require hazardous liquids to be dosed with nitrogen gas, there is constant ventilation with six air changes per hour inside the chemical storage transfer building.

Safety Accessories

Constant ventilation provides for clean air flow while maintaining a safe work environment. The transfer building was equipped with six tons of cooling with 34,000 BTU’s, in order to remain 100% compliant with safe temperature controls. Additional features include a separate 120 gallon hot water heater and a room with a containment sump to maintain fifteen minutes of continuous 85°F shower water, a liquid level detector to monitor any spills or leaks, various work benches throughout the building and a heavy-duty fire suppression system to remain safe in the event of a hazardous situation. If the fire suppression system alarm is initiated, it shuts off all system units including the air conditioner, forced air heater, industrial snorkel and mechanical vents so there is limited oxygen to fuel a fire or spread the fire outside of the building. All motors and electronics contain a weather resistant paint to withstand extreme weather conditions. The unique industrial design of this EP chemical storage building was built for heavy-duty use, while providing maximum safety to personnel working inside and near the chemical storage transfer building. This chemical storage building contained a DOT flip chart placard and a NFPA 704 sign externally to warn bystanders of what type of chemical classification was being stored.

View Pharma Lab Case Study Part 2