Chemical Bunds: Plastic or Steel?

15th January 2019

Effective chemical bunds ensure the safety and security of hazardous liquids when they are being handled, processed or stored. If a chemical spill occurs, the bund will protect the surrounding area from contamination. Bunds can be made from a variety of different materials including reinforced concrete, steel or plastic. Many people immediately think that a steel bund is a superior bund, but this is not always the case. It really depends on the type of bund and your application and environment in which the bund will be used.

Selecting Chemical Bunding

The first factor to consider is what type of chemicals you will be storing on your chemical bunds.  If your chemicals are corrosives, then the advice would be to opt for plastic bunds. Plastic bunds are usually manufactured from low density polyethylene (LDPE) which is the same material that the drums, containers and IBCs that the chemicals are supplied in, are manufactured from. Therefore, you can be confident that the bund will be resistant to chemical attack.

Plastic Chemical Bunds and Spill Pallets are generally cheaper than Steel Bunds because they are moulded/mass produced. Therefore, they can be manufactured at a lower cost than steel bunds which are fabricated or welded and coated (either with paint coating or hot dip zinc galvanized).

Steel bunds are generally used by those who need to move noncorrosive chemicals around on forklifts. Normally, plastic chemical bunds are static, i.e. they stay in one location and are not stable enough to be used to transport chemicals around on forklifts.

Advantages of Plastic Spill Pallets and Chemical Bunds:

  1. Normally available off the shelf for immediate delivery.
  2. Low purchase cost.
  3. Excellent resistance to corrosion from corrosive chemicals.
  4. Easily cleaned.
  5. No maintenance required.
  6. Light weight, easily moved.

Advantages of Steel Spill Pallets and Steel Chemical Bunds:

  1. Ability to transport chemicals drums and containers on steel bunds and spill pallets.
  2. Superior load carrying capacity.
  3. Strength/impact resistance and will not easily be punctured by forklifts etc.
  4. Great Fire resistance.

Key Takeaway

In summary, if you need static chemical bunds or spill pallets and do not need to move your chemicals around on the bund with a forklift, then the plastic bunds are the best option. If there are a lot of vehicle movements with a risk of damage to the bunds and/or you need to move your chemicals by forklift, then the Steel Spill Pallets or Steel IBC Bunds are recommended.

Bunded Chemical Stores are most often supplied with steel chemical bunds which are an integral part of the structure of the chemical store. These chemical bunds have a corrosion resistant paint coating applied. If you are storing flammables, then using steel bunds in the chemical store is recommended.   If you are going to store corrosives in your chemical store, they may damage the paint coating in the steel bund if there is a leak.

It is therefore recommended that you order a plastic bund liner in your chemical store if you are storing highly corrosive chemicals.  If your chemicals are neither highly corrosive or highly flammable, the plastic bund liner is still a better option in our opinion as it will be easier to clean and will not require any maintenance.

If you have any questions about safely storing chemicals in your workplace, our chemical storage experts will be happy to help.

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