We often see maintenance facilities in serious need of upgrades, but even in the best of times it is difficult to get funding to improve these areas. Fuels, oils, and concentrated chemicals are the most hazardous elements of landscape maintenance. Spills can degrade the quality of surface and ground water as well as cause these chemicals to enter the food web. There should be spill containment for these materials where they are stored, mixed, and loaded.
Luckily, there are some low cost options to improve spill containment. In the storage area, placing liquid chemical containers into plastic or metal trays or bins provide instant secondary containment. Available in large box stores, second hand stores, and garage sales, any waterproof container large enough to sit your bottles in will prevent drips and leaks from soaking into shelving or dripping onto the floor. Another option is to place shelving units inside of larger cement mixing tubs. These secondary containment options are especially important if you have wooden shelves or floors.
Many maintenance facilities have a combined wash pad and mix/load station. The presence of the drain, designed primarily with the purpose of moving wash water from the pad to someplace else, will also move a chemical spill, making it difficult if not impossible to collect the spill so that the chemical can be handled as per the label or MSDS. We recommend building separate pads for washing and for mixing and loading, but when you have a combined system and building a new pad is not an option, a low cost approach is to purchase a drain cover. Putting the cover over the drain prior to opening the container of concentrated chemicals will ensure that a spill remains on the pad and can be collected with the most inexpensive of spill kits – kitty litter stored in a waterproof container.