Spill containment berms have been around in the chemical, petroleum, and utility industries for a long time, but most manufacturers did not sell that many units until the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) started strictly enforcing spill containment laws about ten years ago.

Since then, the market saw a high demand for spill containment berms, and many businesses rushed in to take advantage of this profit opportunity. At the time, a few well known manufacturers  already had patents on most of the high quality berm containment designs on the market. To avoid patent infringement and lawsuits, many new manufacturers found ways to work around the patents.

Unable to compete with the quality, volume of business, and sophisticated manufacturing facilities and expertise of leading companies, these new manufacturers competed on price by making low cost containment berms. In order to offer lower prices, these manufacturers had to compromise on quality.

If you are looking to purchase containment berms, here are two big problems you must know about low cost containment berms:

Quality of Material

Low cost containment berms are often made from thinner and lighter weight PVC fabrics that do not have the chemical resistance or tear strength of quality containment berms.  In simple terms, they can break or leak!

XR-5 is a woven fabric with plasticizers which gives high quality containment berms their high tear strength. However, most of the low cost containment berms on the market are made with “non-woven” fabrics, which may be heavy in weight but are not woven fabrics. Using an analogy, these non-woven fabrics are like sliced American cheese placed on top of each other and welded together.

The quality of material used in low cost containment berms explains why it is possible for manufacturers to sell 12’x25’ berms at prices in the hundreds of dollars, when quality berms of the same size are priced under $2,000.

In other words, you get what you pay for.

Poor Design

Some manufacturers of low cost containment berms may use decent quality fabrics, but they use aluminum L brackets for the walls of the berms. The issue with using aluminum L brackets is that metal and fabric materials do not fit well together. The aluminum L bracket can rust or tear into the fabric.

Aluminum L bracket may also pose safety hazards to your personnel. If they were to trip onto the containment berm, they can get seriously injured by the aluminum L bracket. Plastic brackets are always preferred to ensure the safety of your personnel is protected.

While in the past few years manufacturers of top quality containment berms have lost some customers to companies producing low cost containment berms, they are winning back these lost customers.

Initially some businesses switched to purchasing low cost containment berms because of their attractive pricing. However when these businesses received their low cost containment berms on site, they quickly realized the issues with these berms – they only lasted a few days to a few weeks at most.

High quality containment berms, on the other hand, could be used for months or years with proper use and maintenance. For top performance, safety, and value for your investment, always choose a trusted, experienced manufacturer of superior quality containment berms.

Chemtech is here to help. For years we have offered high quality containment berms. We only use high quality fabrics like Siemans XR-5 fabric, which is the best and most well-known fabric on the market today for containment berms.

For more information, check out our website or contact me neel@chemtech-usa.com.