Prevent fuel and chemical spills

  • Prevent home fuel spills
  • Storing and handling household fuels and chemicals
  • Special waste
  • ​Storage tanks
  1. Prevent home fuel spills

    Hazardous materials are found in most Yukon households. These can include home heating fuel, gasoline, diesel, antifreeze, solvents and pesticides. Home heating fuel is essential, but you need to handle it carefully, since it becomes toxic to the environment when it spills or leaks.

    You must report all hazardous material spills to the Yukon Spill Line at 867-667-7244 and clean them up as soon as possible.

    Prevent fuel spills

    The most common fuel spills happen while refueling a fuel storage tank, or from a leaky tank. A new tank costs around $5,000. Cleaning up a home fuel spill can cost more than $50,000.

    You can't avoid all home fuel spills, but you can reduce the chance of them happening. By being a bit more mindful of home fuel consumption and the condition of your tank, you can prevent or mitigate the size of a spill.

    Protect you tank from the elements

    • Install your tank on a solid-base foundation, like a cement pad.
    • Ensure it is away from eaves and open sources of water, including wells and storm drains.

    Inspect your tank

    • Appearance: Check your tank for rust, damage and general wear and tear in the spring and in the fall.
    • Age: Track your tank’s lifespan by having it professionally inspected once a year.
    • Quality: Maintain your oil tank as specified by the manufacturer. Hire a professional inspector to assess your tank and piping, and replace worn out parts and tank as needed.
    • Quantity: Track your fuel consumption to help detect leaks early. Know what is going in your tank and what is going out. Swipe a paper towel along the underside of your tank once a month to check for leaks.

    Responsibility for cleaning up a spill

    Homeowners are responsible for cleaning up any spill associated with your tank or property. You have to pay all costs associated with home fuel spills, including fuel that contaminates, runs onto or seeps into a neighbouring property.

    Home insurance can cover oil spills up to $100,000. This coverage is an extension policy that isn't included under standard homeowners insurance. Check to make sure your home insurance policy has an escape of fuel policy that will cover the cost of home fuel spills.

    How to clean up a spill

    Have a spill kit handy. Spill kits contain:

    • absorbent pads for hydrocarbons and chemicals;
    • drip trays;
    • cat litter or other commercial absorbent granules;
    • shovels, pails or barrels for secondary containment; and
    • plastic sheeting.
  2. Storing and handling household fuels and chemicals
    • Store chemicals and fuels in labelled, industry-approved sealed containers according to the manufacturer's specifications and the substance's Material Safety Data Sheet.
    • Store chemicals and fuels in an area sheltered from rough weather, preferably off the ground on a solid surface or in an area with back-up containment.
    • Don’t store chemicals or fuels in:
      • leaky or compromised containers; or
      • containers made of materials that could adversely react with a given fuel or chemical.
    • Don’t store chemicals and fuels near:
      • bodies of water;
      • storm water drains;
      • drinking water wells;
      • areas with known shallow groundwater;
      • areas susceptible to flooding;
      • areas that create a health risk (e.g., harmful fumes, fire hazard, areas where children have access);
      • incompatible substances - learn these by looking up the Material Safety Data Sheet on the substance - in leaky or compromised containers; or
      • in containers made of materials that could adversely react with a given fuel or chemical.

    For information on how and where to dispose of household hazardous waste see Dispose of hazardous waste, contact the Environmental Programs Branch, or contact the Department of Community Services at ygrecycles@gov.yk.ca or phone 867-667-8945 or toll free in Yukon 1-800-661-0408, ext. 8945.

     

  3. Special waste

    What is special waste?

    In Yukon, special wastes include:

    Special wastes can negatively affect human health and the environment if you don’t handle and dispose of them properly. Improper handling special waste can cause soil, groundwater and surface water contamination, air pollution, direct poisoning to people and wildlife, and fires and explosions.

    Proper storage and handling

    Location guidelines

    • You must store special wastes in an area sheltered from rough weather and off the ground.
    • You must store and handle special wastes in a location with measures in place to prevent public access to the special waste. These can include:
      • storing the special waste in an area that is not readily visible to members of the public who may be accessing or passing by the site;
      • constructing a barrier around the special waste storage and handling areas;
      • installing signage that warns against unauthorized access to the special waste storage and handling areas; and
      • installing signage that states people must check in with the site manager before dropping off any special waste, if applicable.

     

    In addition to the above guidelines, you must follow the regulatory requirements for special waste facilities through the permit issued to the operator.

    Container guidelines

    • You must store special waste in containers that are compatible with the material being stored.
    • You must ensure containers have clear labels to indicate contents, and include other pertinent information such as the source of the special waste or the volume.
    • Keep containers closed at all times during storage, except when adding or removing special wastes.
    • Only store the same type of special waste in the same container. Some substances react adversely when mixed.
    • Do not store containers with incompatible substances in the same immediate location. You may increase the risk of fires, explosions or other hazards.
    • As a rule, store these 5 groups of materials separately:
      • flammable/combustible;
      • acidic;
      • alkaline/basic;
      • oxidizing; and
      • reactive.

    Secondary containment

    If you store more than 4,000 litres of special waste in containers, we recommend that you install secondary containment. Secondary containment is a good way to prevent leaks and spills from contaminating nearby surface water, groundwater and soil, and is less expensive than cleaning up a spill.

    A secondary containment system can be:

    • an impermeable, non-combustible clay or plastic liner within primary barrier, such as a berm; or
    • an impermeable concrete pad with curbed edges.

    Design it to hold 110% of the volume of special waste stored inside the containment area.

    Flammable and combustible liquids

    The National Fire Code of Canada applies throughout Yukon and includes requirements for the storage of flammable and combustible liquids in containers, as well as in storage tanks.

    Flammable liquids have a flash point below 37.8ºC, and include substances like gasoline, solvents, paints and paint thinners. Combustible liquids have a flash point below 93.3ºC and include substances like diesel and waste oil. You can check the Material Safety Data Sheet for your product's flash point.

    • Groupings, or "piles," of containers must not exceed the volume limit specified in the National Fire Code of Canada:
      • for waste oil: 85,000 litres per pile;
      • for gasoline: 15,000 litres per pile;
      • for diesel: 35,000 litres per pile; and
      • for other flammable or combustible liquids, contact the Fire Marshal's Office.
    • Keep each group of containers at least 1.5 metres away from other piles of containers.
    • You must not store flammable and combustible liquids within 6 metres of a building. This requirement does not apply if the building is used primarily for the storage or handling of flammable/combustible liquids, and when no more than 5,000 litres of liquid is stored next to the building.
    • Don’t store flammable and combustible liquids within 6 metres of the property line.
    • You must have an access route at least 6 metres wide that allows the fire department access to any of the piles of flammable or combustible liquids from at least 60 metres away.

    Storing waste batteries

    • Wrap batteries in a continuous sheet of plastic to protect them from the elements and prevent any leaking acid from reaching the environment.
    • Once you wrap the batteries, you can strap them to a wooden pallet to prevent them from moving around.
    • Separate each layer of batteries on a pallet by a sheet of plywood or other suitable material.
    • Don’t stack batteries more than 3 metres high.
    • Don’t stack more than two pallets of batteries.

    Inspections and record keeping

    Inspections

    Containers used to store special waste must be inspected regularly to ensure that they are not leaking or damaged.

    • Weekly inspections: special waste permit holders must inspect for leaks. For example, looking for pooled liquid or stained ground.
    • Monthly inspections: special waste permit holders must verify the total volume of each type of special waste stored onsite.
    • Annual inspections: special waste permit holders must assess whether any of the containers need repair or replacement. If you find a damaged or leaking container, immediately transfer the special waste to an intact container.

    Record keeping

    Keep written or electronic records of inspections for three years and show them to an environmental protection officer upon request.
    Also keep a record outlining where special wastes are stored on the site, including the type and volume of special waste stored in each location. This information could assist emergency responders in case of an emergency.

    Spills

    Report spills immediately to the Yukon Spill Line at 867-667-7244 (24 hour service) or to an environmental protection officer (collect calls accepted).

  4. ​Storage tanks

    When storage tanks leak, their contents can harm the environment and pose a threat to public health.

    You need a storage tank permit to store hazardous substances.

    Storage tank records

    The best way to detect a leaking tank quickly is by keeping track of what goes into and out of the tank. Keep inventory records for:

    • all underground storage tanks for motive fuel - fuel used to propel a motor vehicle;
    • all above-ground storage tanks that hold more than 4,000 litres of motive fuel; and
    • any storage tank that holds more than 4,000 litres of heating fuel. You must install a metre on these tanks to measure the fuel going to the heating system.

     

    If you discover shortages through inventory record keeping, tests will be required to determine the exact cause of the shortages, like a leaking tank.

    The Environment Act (s.121) lays out requirements for contingency plans - what to do in case of a spill - or for further site investigations or clean up.


Contact 

For more information about preventing fuel and chemical spills, email envprot@gov.yk.ca or phone 867-667-5683 or toll free in Yukon 1-800-661-0408, ext. 5683.