manufacturing environmental site investigation

Changes to AS1940: The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids

manufacturing environmental site investigationAs contaminated land consultants, a large part of what we do involves the investigation and remediation of soil and groundwater that has been exposed to liquids that are hazardous to human and ecological health. These liquids are often flammable and combustible liquids such as petroleum hydrocarbons and phenols, but when flammable and combustible liquids are stored in accordance with Australian Standard 1940 (AS1940) The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids, spills and leakages that cause contamination are much less likely. 

AS1940 is a national standard implemented to provide a guide for the safe storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids which minimises the occurrence of spills and leakages. The contents of the standard was covered in a number of different Australian Standards from 1942 to 2004, and was created as a new standard of its own in 2004 (AS1940-2004). 

Following over ten years of use in Australia, AS1940-2004 required some updates to allow the introduction of new terminology, alignment of international and Australian chemical categories and the application of new safety standards from developments in industry practice. AS1940-2017 was created to include these updates, and a brief summary of the updates is provided below.

  • GHS Category Introduction: Classification of chemicals is now provided in both the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) and Australian Dangerous Goods (ADG) code, where it was previously provided in only ADG Code. Additionally, the upper flashpoint threshold of ADG Code C1 combustible liquid category was changed from 150˚C to 93˚C to be in line with the GHS Flammable Category 4. Liquids with a flash point of 93 to 150˚C are now C2 combustible liquids under the ADG Code.
  • Terminology: Safety Data Sheet (SDS) terminology in AS1940-2017 is now in line with the Work Health & Safety Act legislation.
  • Plastic Tanks: Polyethylene and other composite materials can now be used to store combustible liquids in minor storage quantities (10,000 L limit, must have static and venting provisions, must not be stored on construction sites, must be stored outside with 15 m clearance and bund must not be made of combustible material).
  • Fire protection: Updates to the location and quantity triggers for fire hydrants and hoses reels. Significant changes include: all outdoor storage tanks of any size (containing flammable or C1 combustible fluid) and all indoor storage tanks of any size that are not in a tank chamber must have a fire hydrant system, and hydrants can no longer be used for cooling water.
  • Bunds and spill management: Updates to bund materials and capacities, including a bund capacity that has increased to 110% of the volume of the largest tank or 25% of the total volume stored in all tanks (whichever is greater).
  • Liquid levels in tanks: New definitions for normal fill level, tank capacity and tank rated capacity, and a new Safe Fill Level of 95% of the tank capacity. New provisions for high-level alarms for above ground tanks for flammable liquids over 5,000 L, underground tanks and vertical tanks. 
  • IBC storage: IBCs are now subject to Section 5 (Storage in Tanks) of AS1940 when they are used as storage tanks. 

iEnvi have completed numerous site inspections to evaluate compliance with AS1940-2017 and have provided efficient and cost-effective recommendations to assist clients in achieving best practice for flammable and combustible liquid storage and handling. The updated AS1940-2017 is a detailed guide for storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids that our Environmental Consultants have experience with. 

Compliance with AS1940-2017 is not legally required in all Australian states, however, we encourage clients to achieve compliance with the standard to help minimise the risk of a spill or leakage that would harm onsite workers and customers and the surrounding environment. Compliance with the AS1940-2017 also provides a due diligence defence in the event of a major spill or leakage with consequences to human health or the surrounding environment. 

If you need environmental management and compliance advice for storage and processing of chemicals and fuels at your facility, contact an expert iEnvi by emailing [email protected]


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