Safe Hazmat Storage Compliance in the Growing Cannabis Extraction Industry

In the last five years, cannabis and many of its derivatives have grown in popularity. Extracts like cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) have transformed both the medicinal and recreational cannabis industry. Previously, your options for cannabis extraction were limited to mostly by hand methods, but today, technology has expedited the process and made it more efficient with the aid of high-pressure compression and other extraction machinery.

Currently, cannabis extractors are in high demand and the industry is expected to grow as more states legalize THC and as more uses are found for CBD. With a growing industry, you can expect increased regulation.

Cannabis extraction
Cannabinoid oil in bottles.

Lagging Regulations

While cannabis has been around since before the common era, it’s facing renewed interest (and scrutiny) in the marketplace. In many cases, like the loophole legalization of Delta-8 THC (1), the federal sales regulations have yet to catch up to the industry. It’s only in 2021 that they have begun to discuss in-depth the standards surrounding cannabis growing, processing, extraction, and testing.

NFPA Developing New Standards

The NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) recently sought input on the development of new cannabis fire protection standards. It will expand upon the NFPA1, Fire Code, which addresses fire protection concerns within growing and processing facilities. While NFPA1 only addressed concerns, it didn’t set in stone specific regulation. This new standard will address the protection of those facilities and set education, inspecting, testing, and maintenance requirements.

However, while the government works to close loopholes in the regulation of production and sales, extraction of the product is already semi-well regulated thanks to the well-established rules regarding hazardous flammable chemicals such as; butane, hexane, and ethanol; and hazardous gases, such as carbon dioxide.

These rules surrounding safe and compliant storage practices are vital to avoiding costly fines, needless production delays, and serious accidents.

U.S. Chemical Storage can provide fully prefabricated compliant buildings for a variety of safe storage and production practices in your extraction business.

Established Chemical Storage Guidelines

As mentioned, there are many chemical storage requirements that are already set in stone. The requirements for flammable liquid and carbon dioxide (both utilized in cannabis extraction methods) are as follows.

Flammable Liquid Storage in Extraction

Extraction Magazine lays out the NFPA National Electric Code requirements well in a December 2020 article. According to the magazine, facilities that house explosive vapors or combustible material have to be equipped with explosion prevention.

cannabis extraction
Scientist holding paper board and controlling rotational vaporizer during CBD oil extraction.

“Extraction facilities must be equipped with specific electrical components and wiring for safety reasons. These regulations are classified as Class 1 Division 1 environments and Class 1 Division 2 environments. One of the main differences is that flammable vapors exist under normal conditions in C1D1 (e.g., extraction), but should only exist under abnormal conditions in C1D2 (e.g., post-processing).” (2)

Classifications & Environment Distinctions

Each classification and division has its own requirements when it comes to what level of protection you need. In extraction and production areas, one way of mitigating the hazards is by using intrinsically safe products and designs where regulators define hazardous areas in classifications, divisions, and zones. The division depends on the probability that they will contain flammable materials.

Intrinsic Safety

There is a difference between intrinsically safe and explosion-proof. The basic principle of intrinsic safety is to lower the electrical and thermal energy of devices to the point where it is impossible for them to generate a spark. The process uses Zener diodes to limit voltage, resistors to limit current, and fuses to shut off the electrical supply. Ultimately, Intrinsically safe products will not spark and start a fire.

Explosion-Proof

Explosion-proof equipment does not limit the power output. Instead, it contains an explosion internally. So the product could spark, but the unit is built in such a way to contain it. Heavy-duty enclosures prevent the spread of ignition to flammable materials nearby.(3)

Carbon Dioxide Gas Storage

For extractors that utilize the Carbon Dioxide (Co2) method of extraction, there are unique concerns. While the gas is non-flammable, it is an odorless and colorless gas that can be deadly even when normal oxygen levels are present.

Cannabis extraction buildings that store Carbon Dioxide tanks can feature sensors and alarms if safe levels are exceeded due to a leak. They should also feature forced or passive ventilation systems depending on the amount of gas that will be stored inside. Since the gas is stored in compressed tanks, it is important to keep it cool. It may explode if heated.(4)

Our Solution

Our U.S. Chemical Storage team manufactures laboratory and chemical storage buildings that can be fully wired and installed with third-party tested intrinsically safe or explosion-proof products for lighting, climate control, ventilation, and more. In addition, each building is equipped with a secondary containment sump to contain spills if any occur and sensors can also be installed to alert you when a spill happens.

Fire suppression systems are crucial to the safety of flammable chemical storage, and US Chemical can use dry-chem or sprinkler systems depending on your MSDS recommendations. All of these features arrived fully installed ready to hook up to your utilities an easy turnkey delivery.

Types of Chemical Storage Buildings for the Cannabis Industry

As you can see, meeting established recommendations is crucial to safety and success when dealing with cannabis production processes.

Bulk Chemical Storage Buildings

Storage of the bulk hazmat chemicals used in the extraction process. These can store chemicals on shelves or racks, in drums or in totes, making them endlessly scaleable.

Extraction Rooms

Occupancy extraction rooms that can be fully climate controlled and outfitted with sinks and ventilation hoods can be utilized as full chemistry labs. This allows your production to easily relocate from one warehouse to another as growth occurs. Everything else can be warehouse space.

Drop Over Storage Buildings

Drop over buildings feature no sump or floor, but are bolted in place around machinery and utilities inside or outside of existing buildings to achieve compliance easily without the expense of site built construction or costly relocation.

Grow with a Partner You Can Trust

Using an experienced company allows you to focus on your business, and lets you rest easy knowing your business is compliant and well prepared for whatever the future of this exciting industry may bring.

To get started determining your business needs, begin with the Building Configurator Tool and explore some of the many options available. You’re able to enter the specifics about any chemicals, gasses, or equipment you need to store and any other relevant MSDS data. Once that’s inputted, our technical sales team can then get started on a quote or continued dialogue.

Source: What Is Delta-8-THC?, Maintaining Compliance As A Cannabis Extractor , Why is Intrinsic Safety Important to Chemical Storage? , Potential Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Asphyxiation Hazard When Filling Stationary Low Pressure CO2 Supply Systems

Hazmat Storage Locker: Ideal for Storing Chemical Drums Safely

Hazardous Materials Storage and Handling

Hazmat Storage Locker

A hazmat storage locker is recommended to use when storing 55-gallon chemical drums and other hazmat. Storing chemical drums requires standard processes to ensure safety and avoid hazards. Most industrial plants store chemical drums to contain a range of different chemicals used in production processes.

Chemicals are essential to many businesses, whether they are used for manufacturing products or cleaning equipment. Although chemicals are mandatory in many industries, the hazardous nature of many chemicals must be addressed before chemicals can be handled or stored onsite. Understanding the risks of storing chemical drums and having the ability to take steps to minimize those risks is essential to helping work-environments stay safe.

Hazmat storage locker features include racks, shelving, fire suppression and ventilation that are important to keep in mind when it comes to storing 55-gallon chemical drums safely.  Even chemicals that are benign can potentially still be hazardous in the right circumstances. Climate control, proper inventory procedures and storage guidelines are critical to prevent uncontrolled chemical reactions, hazmat spills and minimize worker exposures.

Regulatory Considerations for Hazmat Storage

When storing chemical drums, institutions including the EPA, NFPA and OSHA address certain standards for hazmat storage locker compliance.

According to the EPA, a secondary containment system must have enough capacity to contain 10% of the volume of containers or the volume of the largest container, whichever is greater. Spilled or leaked waste and accumulated precipitation must be removed in a timely manner in order to prevent overflow of the collection system. The containment system base must be sloped or designed and operated to drain and remove liquids resulting from a spill, leak or precipitation; unless containers are elevated or protected from contact with accumulated liquids.

The NFPA 30 Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code, NFPA 400 Hazardous Material Code and the NFPA 1 Fire Code offer a better understanding for safe handling and storage of hazmat. Property setbacks, storage of flammable materials and spacing between chemical storage lockers must all be considered when housing hazardous materials inside a hazmat storage locker.

Regulatory considerations addressed by OSHA include the following:

  • Storage of flammable liquids (29 CFR 1910.106)
  • Compressed gas storage (29 CFR 1910)
  • Communicating chemical hazards under the Laboratory Standard (29 CFR 1910.1450)
  • Hazard Communication Standard (29 CFR 1910.1200)

Most states address hazardous material storage through building codes which can incorporate NFPA Codes, BOCA Codes and UBC Codes. When using a hazmat storage locker, be sure to check with local officials and your local fire marshal to ensure all regulations are met.

Types of Hazmat Storage

Store drums safely

Hazardous materials vary greatly depending on industry and end user. Below is a list of chemicals commonly stored inside prefabricated hazmat storage lockers by U.S. Chemical Storage.

Customize Hazardous Materials Lockers for Inventory Best Practices

Safety should always be top of mind when storing hazardous materials in a hazmat storage locker. See below for some inventory best practices to ensure chemicals are safely stored and maintained.

  • Ensure all containers, drums, totes are labeled with proper signage before storing. Close containers when not in use.
  • Organization is important. Never store chemical drums in walkways or exit-ways, or anywhere on the floor. Use racks and shelves to keep inventory organized.
  • Store chemicals according to chemical class and compatibility first. For example, keep acids away from bases and oxidizers separate from organics, etc. Segregate incompatible materials in separate hazmat storage lockers or with partition walls.
  • Maintain hazmat storage locker temperatures per manufacturer requirements. We offer temperature control options for both heating and cooling.
  • Customize each hazmat storage locker with accessories for each type of chemical being stored, including but not limited to, integral fire suppression systems, mechanical or passive ventilation, explosion- or non-explosion-proof lighting, etc.

Store Chemical Drums Safely in a Hazmat Storage Locker

No matter what kind of hazardous material you need to store, U.S. Chemical Storage can provide the hazmat storage locker solution to keep you safe and compliant. Contact us today for a free quote.

Engineered Organic Peroxide Storage Solutions

Designed to protect and maintain organic peroxides and similar flammable and corrosive chemical groups. Flammable chemical storage lockers offer customizable safety accessories including, but not limited to temperature controls, vapor detection, corrosion protection, mechanical ventilation and more.

Learn more about EPA, NFPA and OSHA approved, organic peroxide chemical storage buildings below.

About Organic Peroxides

Organic peroxides are any organic compound having two oxygen atoms linked together. These type of peroxides can cause severe fire and explosion hazards. Utilizing fire-rated storage buildings helps prevent the dangers of the substances being stored. Organic peroxides are heavily used in rubber and plastic industries as hardeners, curing agents, activatory and catalysts. Available forms of organic peroxides include solids, powders, pastes or even liquids.

A U.S. Chemical Storage hazmat locker

The common hazards with organic peroxides include fire and explosion. The hazardous chemical can also be corrosive, depending on the material. Organic peroxides can also decompose, which causes a heat that rises as the temperature increases. This is a fire danger that must be addressed before storing. Contact your local fire marshal on regulations regarding statewide and countywide regulations.

How to Store Organic Peroxides

Chemical storage lockers are designed specifically for storing organic peroxides and variations of the general “peroxy” group. These safe storage lockers are built to withstand hazardous situations including combustion, explosions, fires and corrosion. Built from heavy-gauge steel and constructed by certified and experienced welders.

Chemical storage buildings can be configured to meet 2- or 4-hour fire ratings for storing organic peroxide and other flammable materials nearby operating facilities to achieve maximum operational efficiency. Utilize shelving and racks when storing liquid forms, and/ or solids for optimal storage capacity. Chemical storage buildings are designed with fiberglass grate flooring to protect against corrosion, as well as temperature control units to protect lithium ion batteries from overheating or freezing.

Organic peroxides should be stored in a fire-rated chemical storage building to achieve full protection against fires, explosions or combustion. Fire-rated chemical storage buildings can be configured with safety accessories

U.S. Chemical Storage Advantages

  • Durable Steel Construction for Added Security, Protection, and Longevity
  • Non-Fire Rated or Fire Rated Construction Available
  • Explosion Proof and Non-Explosion Proof Accessories Available
  • 15-Year Structural Warranty
  • 100% Customizable and Compliant
  • EPA Compliant Spill Containment

How should my chemical storage building be designed?

How will the building be used? Will it be a permanent structure or a temporary storage location? Will there be frequent movement of materials in and out of the building? Will chemicals be handled inside of the building? Answers to these questions will dictate fire rating as well as the need for mechanical ventilation or explosion relief panels. Speak to one of our experienced Sales Engineers to learn more about safety accessories for your application.

How will location affect my building type?

Location of the building can be either inside another building or outside to fit your needs. Fire Separation, which is the amount of fire rating required between two occupancies, or the separation distance between those two occupancies, is determined by the occupancy ratings, construction types, and distances between both buildings. To determine the required fire separation, it is best to consult with your local code authority. If your hazmat storage building is located at distances greater than 30 feet you may not be required to have a fire-rated building.

Do I need shelves?

Shelves are used to help keep chemicals organized. U.S. Chemical Storage offers a variety of shelving for your specific application. Offerings include 16-inch galvanized steel and stainless-steel containment sump shelving with a 2-inch lip. The sump containment lip will prevent small spills from entering the sump in the floor.

What is a sump or secondary containment in reference to chemical storage buildings?

The definition of a “sump” is a pit or reservoir providing containment for spilled liquids. U.S. Chemical Storage offers leak proof spill containment sumps in each standard model. This sump is then covered by a steel or fiberglass floor grating and is can be equipped with a “sump liner” of a plastic nature to provide resistance to accidental spills.

How do I comply with regulations?

Chemical storage buildings manufactured by U.S. Chemical Storage are designed to get your operation compliant. Contact a sales engineer to learn how we can find the best solution for your compliance needs. To learn more about specific chemical storage applications in your area, contact your local code authority.

What size building do I need?

Building size is determined by the amount of hazardous material you are planning to store, the need, if any, for working room around these materials, and must take into consideration the most efficient way of moving these materials into and out of your chemical storage building.

DrumLoc™ Chemical Drum Storage Buildings

U.S. Chemical Storage provides exceptional chemical drum storage protection, security, and versatility with DrumLoc™ non-fire rated chemical storage buildings. These chemical drum storage units have countless applications and can be engineered to fit your specific storage needs. Whether storing hazardous materials or other chemical drums, there is a DrumLoc option for your project. DrumLoc’s non fire-rated construction comes standard and is a cost-effective, durable solution for non fire-rated chemical storage. This precision engineering allows your team to create efficiencies in its manufacturing process by safely storing chemicals drums onsite and within easy reach of your trained professionals.

55-Gallon Drum Storage Solutions

U.S. Chemical Storage ensures your hazardous materials will be protected from many environmental factors with built-in secondary containment and bolt-down plates. Our buildings are designed so your drums can be stored in safely when located at least 30 feet from any structure.* All DrumLoc units are 100% customizable. Each chemical drum storage building can be outfitted to hold from two to 56 drums and will accept a variety of accessories to make operations flow safely and smoothly. Our non-fire rated DrumLoc chemical drum storage buildings are designed to reduce contamination, decrease storage risks, and streamline your costs whether it be insurance, deliveries, or manufacturing. *Always consult your local authority with jurisdiction to ensure that all rules and regulations are followed, including proper setback requirements.