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Spill Response Step-By-Step

Posted: 11/30/15


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If a spill happens at your facility are you prepared to handle it properly? Heritage Vice President Angie Martin, PE, CHMM, has broken spill response down into three distinct sections; what you can do before a spill occurs, what to do while a spill is happening, and what to do after the spill. While this list is not comprehensive (checking with state and local authorities is paramount) it is a good starting point for your Spill Response Preparation. Being fully prepared for any ER situation is the first and best step you can take to help mitigate risk to human health and the environment.

Before a Spill

There are several precautions/preparations you should have in place at all times. Doing so will help to minimize the risk for spills and the negative impact should a spill occur. These include:

1) Inventory your petroleum and hazardous materials. Knowing what materials you have at any given time will increase efficiency in case of a spill.

2)  Complete any regulatory required spill plans (Contingency Plan, SPCC Plan, RMP, FRP, etc.) and know where to access them.

3) Notify Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPC) in Tier II as necessary.

4) Inventory, purchase, and inspect spill control equipment.

5) Train employees as needed (Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response [HAZWOPER], RCRA, DOT, Confined Space, SPCC, etc.)

6) Conduct drills. Drills are imperative when it comes to spill preparedness. Remember, much of the world learns best through action, ensuring that all pertinent employees know how to respond in a spill situation will best protect everyone.

7) Contract with emergency responders. Have someone in place that can help you if a spill gets out of hand.

During a Spill

What if the worst has happened and your company is experiencing a spill right now? Start with these steps:

1) Safely identify and stop the source.

2) Notify appropriate authorities (National Response Center [NRC], LEPC, state environmental agency, local fire department, etc.)

3) Call your contract ER provider to request help or put them on notice.

4) Clean up the spill.

After a Spill

You’re through the worst of it but there are still some things to take care of.

1) Dispose of collected materials.

2) Replace any spill response inventory that was utilized in clean-up.

3) After action review. Analyze what happened during the spill. How did you respond? What went well? What needs improvement?

4) Amend plans as necessary. Think about anything that could have gone better and incorporate solutions in your spill plan.

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