As a consequence of mining operations, accidental spills and release of hazardous materials is inevitable. However, mines have to be prepared for these incidents in order to avoid environmental impacts and emergencies. Mining operations generate hazardous waste, transport and store petroleum products and other hazardous materials, and by law mining companies are required to prepare spill control and cleanup procedures and plans.
Basic Provisions and Procedures in dealing with Spillage
The following provisions are included in the procedures and plans:
- Spill response and prevention controls clearly state measures to stop the source of a spill, contain the spill, clean up the spill, dispose of contaminated materials and train personnel to prevent and control future spills. Ensure that you know the requirements.
- Spill prevention plans are most applicable to the whole site including construction areas where hazardous materials and wastes are stored or used.
- The preliminary steps to prevent spills include
- Identifying potential spill source areas such as loading and unloading, storage, and processing areas; places that generate dust or particulates and areas designated for waste disposal and
- Evaluating stationary facilities that include manufacturing/processing areas, workshops, wash bays, warehouses, storage yards, fuel farms, parking areas and access roads.
- Employees must be trained in spill control response procedures, post-spill response and know the emergency numbers.
- Spill containment and cleanup kits should be located at spill- prone areas. The contents of the kit should be appropriate to the type and quantities of chemical or goods stored at the area.
- Spill kits must be inspected and maintained in all activity areas
- Refuel equipment in a designated area to minimise contamination. Pay attention to location so that spills would not enter drainage systems (dry rivers and tributaries) or storm water. Consider barriers (bunds, concrete floors, berms etc) or other containment systems.
- Most of all, address the root cause of the spill-causing problem (e.g replacing faulty valve, modification of equipment etc) rather than the symptoms (repairing faulty valve and using wrongly designed equipment).
[Content kindly provided my Moolmans Mining]