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How to deal with leaks and spillages from IBCs

Intermediate bulk containers, or IBCs, are typically used to store and transport hazardous and non-hazardous chemicals and waste. These reusable, pallet-mounted containers are convenient. However, there is the risk of spillage whenever any liquid is transferred from one container to another. Even with a dedicated, industrial-grade storage unit like an IBC, leakage is risky.

The best way to deal with these spills and leaks is proactively by installing an IBC bund to immediately collect and contain the spill or leak before it becomes a hazard.

Why should I use an IBC bund?

Single IBC Spill Bund with Framed Cover - 1260L

If your business is storing, transferring or transporting bulk liquid chemicals, then a bund is not only extremely useful but is often a legal requirement.

With a bund, spills and leaks can be tackled before they become an issue, both to the environment and personnel. Production can continue seamlessly without having areas blocked off, equipment damaged or shut down, and staff engaged in cleaning.

Depending on the kind of chemical you are storing in your IBC, there are regulations dictating best practices. For example, in England, oil and fuel storage is covered by the Environment Agency and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs regulations, explicitly stating that secondary containment, such as a bund, is required. Other chemicals have similar rulings that must be taken into account.

Steel or plastic IBC bund?

The two main types of IBC bund are steel and plastic. Each has different positive features, so it is essential to think carefully about the type of chemical you are storing, the environment in which you are storing it, and any transportation or mobility requirements.

Steel bunds have superior fire resistance qualities compared to plastic, so if you store oil, fuel or other flammable chemicals, steel is likely the better option. Steel has better strength and rigidity properties, making it the preferred choice for frequently moving IBCs.

On the other hand, plastic bunds are an excellent option for IBCs that are kept in situ, as they don’t need to be forklift ready and are also better for storing more corrosive chemicals.

What about IBC Bund maintenance?

Recycled 1000 Litre IBC Bund Pallet

IBC bunds must be regularly inspected to ensure they are in proper working order. This can take the form of a visual check, ensuring no chemicals are already leaking into the bund, that it is not cracked or damaged and that there are no external blockages. More in-depth integrity inspections include testing for retention and volume, which can be achieved by filling the IBC bund with water.

The United Kingdom chemical safety legislation requires that bunds be tested for integrity at least every three years.

What are the benefits of using an IBC Bund?

IBC bunds are all about protecting your staff, customers, workplace and the broader environment. They are an easy-to-use, low-maintenance and cost-effective way of minimising the risks associated with chemical storage and should form an integral part of your safety planning.

According to the Health and Safety Executive, in the Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) framework (found here), there are two primary directives to consider:

  • Take all necessary measures to prevent major accidents involving dangerous substances
  • Limit the consequences to people and the environment of any major accidents which do occur

A correctly installed and maintained IBC bund fulfils both of these and lets you rest easy knowing that your personnel are safer and that you are legally compliant.

See our full range of Spill Control Products for more types of spill pallets and absorbent materials for workplaces.


Richard O'Connor's Headshot

Richard O'Connor is a Director at First Mats. He has deep knowledge in areas like Manufacturing, Warehousing, Marine, and Health & Safety. Richard's insights have been featured in well-known publications such as Bloomberg Business, The Sun, and Reader's Digest. His blend of industry expertise and passion for sharing makes him a sought-after voice in his fields.

Contact Richard


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