C.I.Agent Solutions and Strongwell Provide a New Generation of Secondary Containment

secondary containment strongwell partnership

Editor’s Note: This blog post is the third post of a three-part series about recent corporate changes at C.I.Agent Solutions. Be sure to read these previous posts:

Part I : C.I.Agent Solutions – A Whole New Company; Providing Oil Containment Solutions Is Our Main Focus

Part II : Introducing the C.I.Agent Solutions Turnkey Approach to Secondary Oil Containment

As we approach the dawn of 2016, and reflect back on the last 11 months, we can state with extreme confidence that it was a year of change. We became a new company, we implemented the “CIAS Turnkey Approach” to secondary containment sales, and finally, we’re excited to announce that we’ve heeded the advice given by Louis LeBrun, P.E., in the March 2015 WaterWorld Magazine article, and developed a strategic corporate alliance with Strongwell® Corporation, a major player in the composites industry.

secondary containment COMPOSOLITE walls are manufactured at Strongwells headquarters
The Strongwell Corporation corporate headquarters is located in Bristol, VA. The 398,000-square-foot facility sites on 17.2 acres of land and boasts 29 pultrusion machines. Strongwell has additional operations located in Highlands, VA, and in Chatfield, MN.

Headquartered in Bristol, VA and privately held, Strongwell® offers a multitude of product lines but within the Electrical Utility Industry, they are best known for their pultruded, fiberglass COMPOSOLITE® walls which are installed as secondary containment around electrical substation transformers. Strongwell® began pultruding fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) composite structural products in 1956 and is the recognized leader in the pultrusion industry.

Secondary Containment COMPOSOLITE Wall
COMPOSOLITE panels consist of a small number of interlocking FRP structural components produced by the pultrusion process. Panels can be connected using the 3-way connectors, 45-degree connectors, toggles and/or hangers.

COMPOSOLITE® is an advanced composite building panel system suitable for major load bearing structural applications. It was originally developed in Europe for use as a bridge enclosure system, and is used across a broad range of industries. Lightweight and strong, with low electrical conductivity, the walls are aesthetically pleasing and easy to install. Strongwell® originally designed COMPOSOLITE® secondary containment systems per a request from American Electric Power in 2005. Facing fast-approaching SPCC compliance deadlines, AEP was searching for an alternative to installing expensive and labor intensive concrete systems for hydrocarbon management.

secondary containment system combining Strongwell COMPOSOLITE walls with windows housing C.I.Agent Oil Filtration Panels
Windows were cut into the COMPOSOLITE walls to house C.I.Agent Oil Filtration Panels. This allows waste water to drain outside of the containment area without allowing the passage of hydrocarbons.

Without knowing, the alliance wheels were starting to turn. While COMPOSOLITE® walls provided a solution for AEP, anyone familiar with SPCC Regulation 40 CFR 112 can attest that effective secondary oil containment must consist of walls, a floor, and some method of drainage. Fast forward several years. AEP, who is also a client of ours, wanted to use COMPOSOLITE® walls, but realized there also needed to be a mode to evacuate water. They requested we cut windows in below-grade sections of the walls to house C.I.Agent® Oil Filtration panels capable of flowing rainwater while preventing the flow of any hydrocarbons off site.

Secondary Containment install with HFF Oil Stop Valve and Strongwell COMPOSOLITE walls
A floor drain within the containment walls leads to this HFF Oil Stop Valve in a concrete vault. The HFF will process and filter all rain water, and shut down in the event of an oil leak.

Shortly after, we worked on another containment installation with Strongwell® walls but took an even more robust approach to drainage, by providing an HFF Oil Stop Valve in a vault outside of the containment area. A Geomembrane Liner was installed for additional protection, with a drain in the floor leading to the HFF, which processes and filters all storm water, shutting off in the event of a significant oil release.

Following this project, we began to speculate why we’d viewed Strongwell® as competition for years and years, when clearly both companies provide complementary solutions. In fact, utilizing a liner along with an HFF enhances the COMPOSOLITE® walls, making a well-rounded, complete secondary containment system with walls, a floor and drainage. The wheels started turning in Dan Parker’s head. He wondered if there was any possibility of leveraging a partnership or strategic alliance between our company and the FRP composite leader.

As it turns out, great minds (who work at great companies!) really do think alike.

While Strongwell® Corporation is the world’s largest pultrusion company with three plant locations in the U.S. and more than 500 employees, they were still relatively new players to the electric utility industry – probably because it made up such a small percentage of their business. Strongwell’s FRP products are used across a number of other industries, most notably in the construction spectrum, but they recognized that opportunity exists to increase their market share within the electrical utility industry. They reached out to C.I.Agent Solutions in early 2015.

Partnership Leads to Improved Secondary Containment Implementation

secondary containment meeting with Strongwell
Randy Montgomery, left, and Dan Smith of Strongwell share product knowledge with the team at C.I.Agent Solutions in August 2015.

Thus began several months of talks between C.I.Agent Solutions and Strongwell, as well as visits to each other’s facilities. During this due diligence process, each side learned more about one another’s products, acknowledged the benefits of simultaneous product offerings, and established a pathway for a partnership to begin. Finalized in July, C.I.Agent Solutions® now offers Strongwell® COMPOSOLITE® walls, in conjunction with our established Geomembrane Liner systems, Oil Filtration Panel Windows, and/or HFF Oil Stop Valves. On the Strongwell® side of things, they will refer customers to us who are in need of secondary containment solutions that require liners, filtration systems and turnkey installation supervision.

So what does that mean for you, the end user? An innovative, multi-faceted approach to secondary containment backed with the extensive knowledge and quality products of C.I.Agent® and Strongwell®. As more utilities begin to implement secondary containment measures, in concordance with EPA’s Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Rule 112.7, it’s essential they are given a multitude of options to satisfy their requirements. For those who prefer the aesthetics, low-maintenance, and easy installation of a composite wall, C.I.Agent® and Strongwell® are able to provide a system designed not only to contain oil, but drain water as well.

Secondary Containment Solutions

secondary containment install and diagram

Secondary containment drawing and finished installation of system with COMPOSOLITE walls with windows housing C.I.Agent Oil Filtration Panels.

The topography and climate of your substation will determine the right combination of C.I.Agent® and Strongwell® products for your containment needs. C.I.Agent’s Geomembrane Liner system is recommended to coincide with all Strongwell® COMPOSOLITE® installations, particularly those substations with non-impervious soils. The liner is crucial, as it serves as an additional level of redundancy to ensure oil containment within the confines of the COMPOSOLITE® system.

Complete secondary containment install with HFF oil stop valve and diagram
Secondary containment drawing and finished installation of system with COMPOSOLITE walls along with a liner and floor drain piped to C.I.Agent HFF Oil Stop Valve housed in a concrete vault outside of the containment area.

Depending on how much moisture your region of the country receives, will determine what product to supplement the Strongwell® system with next. For areas with less precipitation, the installation of below-grade windows housing Oil Filtration Panels within the COMPOSOLITE® system itself will suffice as an adequate drainage system. With one foot of head pressure required, the windows maintain a flow rate of 4 GPM per square ft. of material, while blocking a hydrocarbon release.

For areas with heavier amounts of moisture, it is recommended a drain is installed within the liner system. The drained water will flow to a nearby vault housing a C.I.Agent® HFF Oil Stop Valve. With one foot of head pressure, the HFF offers higher flow rates than the Oil Filtration Panel windows (depending on the size of the unit). In addition, the valve will shut off in the event of a significant hydrocarbon release.

C.I.Agent® CEO, Dan Parker, summarizes it best with this statement, “We have listened to our utility clients, who have requested a broad range of solutions. We believe this partnership will allow us to offer optimal results for previously underserved markets, and the opportunity to continue to pioneer new solutions in the Electrical Utility Industry.”

Climate, topography, soil conditions and onsite preferences are a lot of factors to consider when searching for a secondary containment solution that’s right for your utility’s needs.

To make your solution process as easy as possible we have created an interactive Secondary Containment Solutions Tool for new and existing containment. This helpful tool takes all of your site specific needs into consideration and provides an INSTANT recommendation. Check it out today!

Secondary Containment Solutions Tool   

Strongwell® COMPOSOLITE® Secondary Containment System Brochure


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