Hazardous Waste Storage Containers

Attempt to secure arrangements with fire departments, police, emergency response teams, equipment suppliers, and local hospitals, as appropriate, to provide services in the event of an emergency. Ensure that personnel handling hazardous waste have immediate access to an alarm or emergency communications device.

In the event of a fire, explosion, or other release of hazardous waste that could threaten human health outside the facility, or if you think that a spill has reached surface water, call the National Response Center to report the emergency. The Response Center will evaluate the situation and help you make appropriate emergency decisions. In many cases, you will find that the problem you faced was not a true emergency, but “it is better to call if you are not sure.” Stiff penalties exist for failing to report emergencies.


  • Any container used to store hazardous waste must be labeled with the words “hazardous waste” (regardless of its location) as soon as accumulation begins.
  • Be sure that the container is compatible with the chemical waste.
  • Use hazardous waste storage containers that are made of or lined with materials which will not react with, and are otherwise compatible with, the hazardous waste to be stored. For example, do not place hydrofluoric acid in glass. Often the original container is suitable.
  • Waste containers must be closed at all times, except when being filled. Do not leave funnels in the containers.
  • Be sure that hazardous waste storage containers in the waste storage area do not leak. Consider the use of secondary containment, such as a tray, larger container or basin. If a leaking container is found, immediately clean up any spilled material according to established spill cleanup procedures and transfer the waste into a container that is in good condition.
  • Waste stored near drains (floor, sink, cup sink) should have secondary containment. If you have a sink or drain that is not in use, contact maintenance to explore possibilities for plugging or sealing the drain. Secondary containers must be compatible with the waste.