Industrial Site Spill Modeling

Trent Schade, Cristina Jorge Schwarz and Dan Kaufmann


Industrial complexes in the United States have many safeguards against chemical spills. Spills within the confines of the facility boundaries result in lost productivity, material losses, risks to human health and the environment, regulatory fines, and negative publicity. Containing a spill within the facility boundaries provides some measure of legal and physical protection for the company. Occasionally spills occur that move beyond the protection of the industrial site physical boundaries. This increases the risk and consequence to the facility’s neighbors and the natural environment. Potentially, the impacted community can be quite large.

Preventing spills in the first place is generally a top priority. Before a spill occurs, the facility needs to prepare and practice a response. Hydraulic system modeling is a great tool to help aid and inform spill response. Spill modeling uses dynamic hydraulic system modeling to identify weakness in the hydraulic barriers. This presentation examines a spill model of an industrial site where events transpired to cause a breach in the hydraulic boundary. The presentation describes the data collection/verification/integration process, categorizes five spill source types, demonstrates four spill modeling techniques using SWMM, and itemizes several steps to size appropriate redundant backup systems to maintain a solid hydraulic barrier.

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