Chemicals – Bunds and IBC storage

Chemicals – Bunds and IBC storage

There are a number of regulations covering the transport and storage of liquid chemicals, and broadly speaking we can split this into the classifications of ‘hazardous to health’ or ‘flammable’.

Substances, including liquid chemicals, hazardous to health come under the Classification, Labelling and Packaging Regulations for transport (UK and EU), ADR regulations for overseas transport and UN regulations internationally. For storage, they would come under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regs (COSHH).

UN standardisation has improved the safety of import and export, as all containers must meet the standards for transportation. But there are further rules and regulations for:

  • transport by sea – IMO (International Maritime Organisation), in relation to prevention of sea pollution.
  • air cargo – IATA (International Air Transport Association). There is a complete manual covering the Dangerous Goods Regulations which cover packaging for air transport.

GHS (Globally harmonised standards) cover the requirements for standard type labels and Safety Data Sheets which must give information on safe storage and handling, as well as spillage action. The HSE has more information on the background to this here:

Flammable liquids, which are not necessarily otherwise hazardous to health, will need to be considered for storage within a premises Fire Risk Assessment, and quite likely also the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regs (known as DSEAR).  They do have restrictions on how much can be safely stored within a warehouse, for instance, and spillage must be considered since this presents a greater fire or explosion risk with volatile liquids.

IBC storage – bunds

What exactly are IBC’s and what are they used for?  IBC stands for Intermediate Bulk Container and they are designed as an international standard type of container for bulk transport of liquids.  This is to meet the requirements of UN rules for international transport of hazardous chemicals, as well as the other rules and regulations mentioned above.

Many people continue to store the liquids in the container (IBC) in which they were delivered and use this to decant into smaller drums or containers. This is quite acceptable in the UK, as mentioned in the HSE’s Guidance Note HSG51, section 48, as long as the IBC is ‘an appropriate UN Performance Tested Type’.

IBC’s do come in different sizes and types, but the most common type is the composite type which has a plastic tank container within a metal cage for stability and ease of stacking. The most common size in the UK is 1000 litres and they would have a base size suited to standard UK single pallets (48” x 40” or 1219mm x 1016mm)

If you are going to use IBC’s for storage and decanting, then it will be essential for spill protection to have a bund which can contain spilled liquids for safe disposal.

Tanks-UK supply single or double IBC bunds, which contain 110% of the contents of the ‘standard’ size IBC’s as described above, i.e. 1100 litres. These bunds are constructed from heavy duty PE plastic. IBC’s can ‘sit’ on the rim of the bund or you can specify them with a PE grating (perforated plate) or a galvanised steel grating. The other type of IBC bund available, depending on the substance involved, is a steel one with steel grating.

Drum bunds

If you purchase hazardous liquids in large metal or plastic drums, they will also need bunding.  The rules for a drum bund are slightly different.  Since you are likely to have several containers on the same bund, the rules are that it must contain 110% of half of the containers, or 110% of the contents of the largest container – whichever is the greatest. Drum bunds are therefore generally lower height than IBC bunds for that reason.

Tanks UK supply the Cemo range of drum bunds.

IBC or Drum Dispensing

For dispensing liquids such as AdBlue®, Tanks-UK supply pump, hose and nozzle kits designed for use with IBC’s. A hand-cranked pump is the simplest, but electric pumps are also available. There are variations designed for use with standard AdBlue® (or other chemical) drums as well.

Bunded storage cabinets

Hazardous and especially flammable liquids do need to be stored in suitable cabinets. There are bunded storage cabinets available from Tanks-UK which are most suited to a collection of smaller containers such as 5 to 25 litre containers.

One innovative cabinet type is the Cemo Canister cabinet which has sliding trays to hold up to 15 canisters. The bottom tray is the bund for containing any spillage and this can also be slid out at the same time as one of the trays, so that any spillage from dispensing can be captured and contained.  Ask us for further details if you are interested in this product.

The standard type of hazardous chemical cabinets have bunded shelves so that if a container should split or burst, the liquid could be contained within that shelf bund and not risk mixing with other chemicals.

Coolant trolley Stadley #1Portable dispensing units

If you don’t need a large dispensing tank, then take a look at the portable dispensing trolleys. As an example we have a case study on an adapted trolley for replacing coolant in train engines – which Tanks-UK supplied. This was described in an earlier blog last year.


Just give us a call on 01953 665940 or email with your requirements and we’ll send you a quote.