Hazardous Material Storage & Handling

Proper storage and handling of hazardous materials

A hazardous material is any biological, chemical, or physical material with properties that make it dangerous or potentially harmful to human health or the environment. Hazardous materials can be released to the environment in a variety of ways.

When hazardous material comes into contact with rain or snow, the pollutants are washed into the storm sewer system and, ultimately, to surface water bodies and/or ground water. Hazardous materials have negative impacts on fish habitat, ground water drinking water sources, and recreational uses of Minnesota’s lakes and streams.

A spill of only one gallon of oil can contaminate one million gallons of water. Hazardous materials associated with MS4s and their operations include, but are not limited to, oil, gasoline, antifreeze, fertilizers, pesticides, and de-icing agents and additives. This fact sheet provides guidance on storage and handling of hazardous materials.

Benefits / Pollution Reduction

Minimizing or eliminating contact of hazardous materials with stormwater can significantly reduce pollution of downstream waters. Proper hazardous material handling and storage also contributes to employee health, an organized work place, and efficient operation.

Program Development & Implementation

Potential Hotspots

Hotspot facilities are facilities that produce higher levels of stormwater pollutants and/or present a higher potential risk for spills, leaks or illicit discharges. Hazardous material storage and handling is of particular concern in these areas. Common MS4 owned or managed hotspot facilities are those that handle solid waste, wastewater, road and vehicle maintenance, and yard waste, such as:

  • Composting facilities
  • Equipment storage and maintenance yards
  • Hazardous waste disposal facilities
  • Hazardous waste handling and transfer facilities
  • Incinerators
  • Landfills
  • Materials storage yards
This image shows a proper hazardous material storage
Proper hazardous material storage

Hazardous Material Handling, Loading, and Unloading Pollution Prevention Practices

  • Avoid loading/unloading materials in the rain and/or provide cover for the activity
  • Retrace areas where materials have been transferred to identify spills and immediately clean them up
  • Time delivery and handling of materials during favorable weather conditions whenever possible (e.g. avoid receiving loads of sand during windy weather)
  • Inspect containers for material compatibility and structural integrity prior to loading/unloading any raw or waste materials
  • Use dry cleanup methods (e.g. squeegee and dust pan, sweeping, and absorbents as a last step) in case of spillage rather than hosing down surfaces
  • If your MS4 operates loading docks, provide cover and provide grading or berming to prevent run-on of stormwater

Material Storage Pollution Prevention Practices

  • Confine material storage indoors to the greatest extent feasible, and plug or disconnect floor drains that lead to the stormwater system

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