Secondary Containment Best Practices: Ensuring Environmental Compliance and Safety


In today’s industrial landscape, ensuring environmental compliance and safety is paramount. One critical aspect of this effort involves secondary containment systems. These systems are designed to prevent environmental hazards, safeguard public health, and comply with stringent safety regulations. In this blog post, we will explore the importance of secondary containment systems, design considerations, materials used, and the role of coatings in enhancing their effectiveness. This guide aims to provide valuable insights for applicators, industrial painters, Safety Compliance Officers, and Facility Managers.

The Importance of Secondary Containment Systems

Secondary containment systems are essential for preventing leaks and spills from primary storage units, such as tanks and pipes, from reaching the environment. These systems serve as a backup layer of protection, ensuring that even if the primary containment fails, hazardous substances are contained and do not cause environmental damage or pose safety risks.

Key Benefits:

  1. Environmental Protection: Preventing hazardous material from contaminating soil and water sources.
  2. Regulatory Compliance: Meeting federal, state, and local regulations to avoid penalties and legal issues.
  3. Public Health and Safety: Reducing the risk of exposure to harmful chemicals for facility workers and the surrounding community.
  4. Financial Savings: Avoiding costly cleanup operations and potential liability claims.

Design Considerations for Secondary Containment Systems

Designing an effective secondary containment system requires careful planning and consideration of various factors. Here are some best practices:

1. Capacity and Sizing

  • Adequate Volume: The containment system should have enough capacity to hold the contents of the largest tank it surrounds, plus additional freeboard to accommodate precipitation and other variables.
  • Future Expansion: Consider potential future expansions and ensure the containment system can handle increased storage needs.

2. Structural Integrity

  • Durability: Use materials and construction methods that provide long-term durability and resistance to corrosion, chemical exposure, and physical damage.
  • Load-Bearing Capacity: Ensure the containment structure can support the weight of the stored materials and any additional loads from equipment or personnel.

3. Accessibility and Maintenance

  • Easy Access: Design the system for easy access for inspection, maintenance, and cleaning.
  • Drainage and Cleanup: Provide means for efficient drainage and cleanup of spills, including sumps and sloped floors.

4. Leak Detection

  • Monitoring Systems: Implement leak detection systems to promptly identify and address any breaches in containment.

Materials Used in Secondary Containment Systems

The choice of materials for secondary containment systems is crucial in ensuring their effectiveness and longevity.

Common Materials:

  1. Concrete: Widely used for its strength and durability, but may require coatings to enhance chemical resistance.
  2. Steel: Provides high strength and flexibility but needs protection from corrosion.
  3. Plastic Liners: Such as HDPE and PVC, offer excellent chemical resistance and flexibility.
  4. Composite Materials: Combining different materials to leverage their collective benefits.

The Role of Coatings in Enhancing Secondary Containment

Coatings play a vital role in improving the performance and lifespan of secondary containment systems. HPP Industrial Coatings specializes in providing a range of coatings tailored to various industrial needs.

Benefits of Coatings:

  • Chemical Resistance: Protects surfaces from corrosive substances, ensuring structural integrity.
  • Ease of Cleaning: Creates smooth surfaces that are easier to clean and decontaminate.
  • Leak Prevention: Seals small cracks and crevices, preventing leaks and seepage.
  • Longevity: Extends the life of the underlying materials by protecting them from environmental and chemical damage.

Types of Coatings:

  • Epoxy Coatings: Provide excellent adhesion, chemical resistance, and durability.
  • Polyurethane Coatings: Offer flexibility, UV resistance, and impact resistance.
  • Polyurea Coatings: Highly elastic and resistant to abrasion and chemicals.


In summary, secondary containment systems are essential in protecting the environment, ensuring regulatory compliance, and safeguarding public health and safety. By understanding the importance of these systems, considering key design factors, selecting appropriate materials, and utilizing high-performance coatings, businesses can enhance the effectiveness and longevity of their containment solutions.

At HPP, we are committed to providing top-tier coatings, linings, and floorings to various industries, ensuring that our clients achieve the highest standards of safety and compliance. Established in 1987 and based in Louisville, Kentucky, we bring decades of experience and expertise to every project we undertake.

For more information on secondary containment and how our products can help you achieve compliance and safety, contact us today. Let’s work together to protect our environment and ensure a safer future for all.