Managing a Spill of a Hazardous Material

An appropriate spill response plan must be developed for any facility that handles hazardous materials, oil, petroleum products or anything that presents a hazard to the environment, receiving waters, storm waters, or those that are navigable. This includes:

Solvents or cleaners
Acids or caustics
Paints, thinners, stains, or lacquers
Detergents or degreasers
Herbicides or pesticides
Any other potentially damaging chemicals

Some activities present a high potential for spills and their prevention and containment must be addressed. All facilities must maintain an adequate amount of supplies on hand to contain the largest spill that might occur. Some activities with the greatest spill potential are:

Transferring chemicals
Fueling vehicles and equipment
Applying fertilizers
Applying pesticides
Painting, stripping, staining
Managing A Spill of Hazardous Materials
Clean up all spills thoroughly and promptly
If the material is considered hazardous or the spill is considered large, specially trained personnel may be needed for cleanup.
As soon as a spill or leak is discovered, supervisory personnel must be notified.
If the spill or leak threatens to flow into a storm drain or surface body of water, it must be contained before cleanup is started.
Place absorbent socks and pigs to block the flow and also around all threatened storm drain inlets.
Use drain seals which are at least 3 inches larger than the drain’s diameter. If a portable container is the source of the leak or spill, place the entire leaking container into a larger containment berm or sump.
If a leaking container can be safely repaired, this should be done and the container placed with the repaired area on top.
Move the container indoors.
If the spill or leak of a hazardous substance does escape, federal and state authorities must be notified, as well as local fire officials.
Clean or dispose of all clean-up equipment and supplies in the appropriate manner in compliance with 40 CFR 112.
If clean-up must be delayed, the spill area must be blocked off to prevent vehicle or foot traffic.
Any delay in cleanup could result in a spread of the hazardous materials or waste by rain, wind, or traffic and it can present a safety hazard or a threat to the environment.

Activities that are carried out in the field, at work sites or at some municipal facilities have a great potential for leaks and spills. Whenever possible, all chemicals should be handled, re-packaged, or transferred indoors to provide greater protection from the weather. All employees as well as contractors must be trained in spill prevention and management and how to use the necessary equipment.

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