How Does a Spill Containment Manhole Protect the Environment?

By OPW | May 14, 2014

Spill containment manholes are utilized to reduce water penetration and to collect any spillage from fill pipes.  Typically found in underground storage tank (UST) systems, spill containment manholes lay flush with the surface of a concrete or blacktop slab and are generally one to three feet in diameter and extend to a depth of two feet below the surface.  

spillThe top of the spill containment manhole consists of a cover that is generally covered in a rust-resistant coating and provides protection against precipitation and other sources of liquid from entering the area around the fill pipe or vapor recovery system. Liquids and especially water can cause corrosion of metal pipes, which can compromise the integrity of an underground storage tank system.  If a UST were to become compromised, hazardous liquids such as petroleum could leak.  Any fugitive materials would then be free to mix with groundwater.  Groundwater is commonly used for public water supplies and any contamination could pose serious health risks and economic costs.

Spill containment manholes also include a spill bucket.  This provides an additional level of environmental protection by collecting any liquids that may be present around the upper portion of the fill pipe.  These liquids may present themselves due to a spill during the filling of the UST or liquid that has escaped from the fill pipe due to a rapid pressure change.   As the material is collected, a pump is activated to remove the liquid from the spill bucket and placed in a containment system.  

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