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TRAFFIC INCIDENT MANAGEMENT IN HAZARDOUS MATERIALS SPILLS IN INCIDENT CLEARANCE

By US Department of Highway Administration Office of Operations

National Tow Truck Driver Certification

Towing & Recovery Association of America (TRAA) represents the towing and recovery industry on a national level. This group has recognized that the tow truck driver can also be a valuable contributor to the safe, quick clearance of an incident. With proper training and certification, they can provide help with the clean-up and handling of typical vehicle fluids at an incident. Because they are often the first at the scene, this assistance serves to reduce the clean-up time and allows for lanes to be opened in a more timely fashion.

Through a grant from the DOT, TRAA established national standards for tow truck operators and developed the National Driver Certification Program. This program is based upon light, medium, and heavy duty towing and recovery, and covers the following areas:

  • Customer service
  • Safety
  • Incident management
  • Truck
  • Equipment

When assisting with traffic incident clean-up involving a hazardous material, the type of requirements for tow truck drivers will depend on the type of incident, the severity of the spill, and the location of the spill relative to the damaged vehicles. More information on the levels and curriculum topics, including handling of hazardous material, is available on the TRAA Web site at http://www.towserver.net/certification.htm.19

The applicable levels for TRAA tow truck driver certification when dealing with hazardous materials are:

Level 1: For most vehicular spills (car wreck) with only minor amounts of hazardous material spilled, Level I (Light Duty) requirements should be sufficient, provided that tow truck operators are not coming in contact with the spilled material.

Level II: For vehicular spills (medium-heavy duty truck wreck) with moderate amounts of hazardous material spilled (partial saddle tank emptied), Level II (Medium Duty) requirements should be sufficient, provided that tow truck operators minimize their time near the spilled material.

Level III: For large vehicular spills (tanker spill, blood-borne pathogens, etc.), Level III (Heavy Duty) requirements will be necessary to ensure tow truck driver safety.

Response Management and Clean-up Regulations

The regulations dealing with response management, including handling, reporting, and mitigation procedures of hazardous spills, are founded in a number of federal statues rather than just one source. It is important, especially for responders in charge, to know the origin of the various requirements, including the mandated reporting procedures and ensure the proper implementation.
In the U.S., the response to an incident is regulated under many statues and many government agencies. It is important for responders to at least understand the basis of these regulations because they dictate everything, from how they manage a spill to the disposal of the spilt material. These regulations stipulate who should be notified and when it is not necessary, as well as what resources or assistance are available to local and state entities if the containment of a spill is beyond their capabilities. Therefore, some of the major federal laws that responders should have knowledge of are listed in Table 6. Responders should be aware of any local and state regulations that also apply to hazardous materials handling, reporting, and disposal in their jurisdictions. Table 6. Major Federal Hazardous Materials Incident Regulations

Sizing-up a Spill
Once a spill occurs along a roadway, it’s important for response personnel to identify the hazardous substance and prevent the spill from spreading. Initial response personnel should only attempt to determine the extent of the release by gathering and analyzing information. This is called a size-up strategy, and is a non-invasive attempt to get a general picture or impression of the nature and severity of the event

In general, responders should use a size-up strategy to obtain and evaluate the following information:

  • Identity of the materials
  • Amount of the release
  • Hazards associated with each material(s)
  • Effects and risks on the public, property, and environment
  • Potential pathway of release—air, land, surface waters, or groundwater
  • Most appropriate measures for controlling the release to prevent/reduce the impact
  • Safety measures to protect all response personnel

A number of methods can be used to collect information for a size-up strategy. For the most part, responders should use visual observations to assist in detecting the presence or release of hazardous chemicals. Visual methods that may be utilized include the following:

  • Types and numbers of containers or cargo tanks
  • Placards, labels, and markings on containers or transportation vehicles
  • Vapors, clouds, run-offs, or suspicious substances
  • Biological indicators—dead vegetation, animals, insects, and fish
  • Physical condition of containers

At other times, it may be necessary for first responders to utilize quantitative methods (monitoring, sampling, hazard characterization, etc.) to assist in detecting the presence or release of hazardous chemicals. Quantitative methods that are cost-effective and may be utilized at a traffic incident include the following:

  • Colorimetric tubes
  • pH paper
  • Spilfyter classifiers strips

Containment and Confinement

Upon identifying an incidental hazardous substance release, first responders may perform limited cleanup activities provided that the mitigation follows a standard operating procedure and the responder has received adequate training (See previous section on training requirements). Incidental releases should not have the potential for safety or health hazards, such as fire, explosion, or chemical exposures in excess of an OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL), or exceed the immediately dangerous to life and health level.

For first responders to a small spill, limited clean-up activities may entail basic containment and confinement techniques. Spill containment involves methods used to restrict the material to its original container (e.g. plugging, patching, overpacking, etc.). Spill confinement involves methods to limit the physical size of the area of the release (e.g. mist knockdown/vapor suppression, diversion, diking,booming, absorbing, fencing, and damming). Both methods can be very effective at controlling a hazardous release, if used appropriately. However, response personnel should not utilize either method without appropriate protection and regard for safety.

For small vehicular spills that occur along a roadway, one of the easiest ways to control a spill is the use of granular absorbents, oil absorbent pads, or universal absorbent pads for non-petroleum products. These items are readily available and very effective for remediation of small spills. However, response personnel should understand the properties associated with each, standard operating procedures for utilizing them, and the correct collection and storage methods for contaminated absorbents.

Disposal Guidelines
Once hazardous materials are spilled, the material becomes contaminated and should be either recycled or disposed of properly. Typically, first responders to a traffic incident do not possess the appropriate licenses to perform transportation and disposal of hazardous waste. Professional licensed firms should be contracted to perform this task following the regulations established under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.16

First responders can improve the disposal process by mitigating the spill following a standard operating
procedure (SOP). The SOP should account for how to:

  • Mitigate the spill,
  • Package the waste for transport, and
  • Secure the waste until a licensed transportation and disposal company can pick up it up.

More importantly, the SOP should provide first responders with guidance on how to minimize roadway congestion by conducting hazard recognition to determine the hazards presented to the general public.

There are two basic ways to control any type of spill: containment and confinement. Containment basically means restricting the material to its original container while confinement refers to limiting the physical size of the area of release. First responders should have an assortment of products for spill mitigation of a spill for both types of controls. Quick and simple actions by properly trained responders to minimize the amount of a spill as well as the area of involvement can reduce the amount of clean-up time and, thus, reduce the incident time frame requirements. For most traffic incidents involving incidental spills, Level II trained responders can effectively deal with the smaller vehicle spills if they have access to the appropriate equipment and materials. The impact of larger spills can be minimized by quick action, such as placing drain protection covers over the storm sewer inlets by DOT personnel. Properly trained responders can also reduce the incident time line in some cases involving minor vehicle crashes by having access to a spill kit containing an assortment of absorbents.

There are basically three types of spill kits. The type of spill kit that a first responder will use depends upon what liquids need to be cleaned up. The three main types are:

1. Universal or General Purpose Spill Kits. Universal or general purpose spill kits contain gray absorbents made with activated charcoal or a similar capturing agent. Universal or general purpose spill kits are used to clean-up both water-based fluids and hydrocarbons.

2. Oil-Only Spill Kits. Oil-only spill kits are used to clean-up hydrocarbons only (motor oil, jet fuel, diesel, gasoline, hydraulic oil, etc.) and contain white absorbents that repel and float on water.

3. Hazmat Spill Kits. Hazmat spill kits contain yellow absorbents to clean-up aggressive fluids, such as acids and solvents, and will absorb hydrocarbons as well as water-based fluids.

The size of the spill is an important factor in determining the mitigation technique a first responder will use. Spill kits come in various sizes. For small volume spills, first responders may use bagged or bucket spill kits. For large volume spills, a drum or wheeled cart/mobile spill kit may be better suited. In each case, both types of spill kits are easily carried on a response vehicle and can provide safe containment of the material until proper disposal can be facilitated.

If first responders do not have a spill kits readily available, there are an assortment of products that can be purchased individually and combined to produce a custom spill kit. Some of the more important items are absorbents pads, absorbent booms, drain protector covers, spill containment berm dikes, and spill classifier strips.

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When Opportunity Goes Down The Drain

By Perry Beaty

Cleaning up an accident scene can involve more than sweeping up broken glass especially if a Big Rig is the casualty. Highway mishaps where fuel spills occur can sometimes prolong vehicle recovery efforts if it becomes necessary to pump off the fuel tanks.That task requires a certified Hazmat technician known as “HAZWOPER” an acyronym for Hazardous Waste Operations.

The Federal Government requires that anyone engaging in the clean up, (remediation) or disposal of contaminates or hazardous material be trained and certified as per OSHA Regulations CFR 1910.120, which involves 40 hours of training.

Heavy duty vehicle recovery operations stand by and experience long periods of response time for clean up companies to arrive and perform their task of pumping off damaged saddle tanks before towing away the disabled unit. Youʼre already on the scene so why not take charge of the entire cleanup and collect the revenue for the fluid spill ? Have your personnel certified by a Training staff which may conduct training with flexible days and hours to accomodate your business.

Your roster of towing clients is an established customer base ready for your services. Traffic accidents are not the only source of response. Loading dock mishaps at freight terminals and scheduled degreasing of fuel islands are of many opportunies.

There are Consulting entites for Insurance companies and the transportation industry for highway and rail (example) that engage in transporting hazardous goods across the nation. These Consulting firms maintain a list of qualified and certified companies that provide services to clean up any casuality in different locations in the counrty; (much like motor clubs for towing,flat tires, jump starts).

Once you become affilated with many of these firms you can expect remediation calls through this medium.

Tools and supplies such as personal protective gear, absorbants, spark resistant hand tools, pumps, hoses will be your initital investment. Equipment such as backhoes or bobcats and dump trucks can be rented per job.

We all know the authories love quick responses, and youʼre already on the scene!

ABOUT THE WRITER:
Perry Beaty is a veteran of the towing industry in Charlotte NC where he owned and operated Beaty Towing and Recovery along with Piedmont Environmental Response Team, (PERT) selling both companies in 1998. He is Wreckermaster Certified 95465 and named one of the Top Ten Wreckmasters in 1997. Beaty has maintained his Hazmat certification recieving a patent in 2008 for an inflatable storm drain plug that was approved for FEMA funding in 2010.

www.Flowstop.net

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Hazmat Awareness and Spill Kits Improve Safety and Efficiency

By Karen Hamel, New Pig Corporation

Kit 420 Spill Control

Punctured radiators and grazed saddle tanks are just two of the leaky messes that drivers may face when they’re called out to assist disabled vehicles. Getting these and other vehicle fluids under control quickly and safely can present challenges.

Whether it’s crankcase oil, brake fluid, antifreeze or battery acid, all are essential fluids that keep vehicles running. Unfortunately, these fluids aren’t very useful when they’re leaking into the ground. To make matters worse, most are considered to be hazardous – presenting problems for both the environment and personal safety. Knowing what to do before a spill kit is chosen is just as important as choosing the right one.

Recognizing Hazards

Being able to quickly recognize different vehicle fluids and understanding their hazards is an important safety consideration for drivers. It allows the correct absorbents, personal protective equipment (PPE) and other tools to be chosen and used for the fastest, most efficient response.

In addition to these liquids, drivers can face just about anything when they pull up to a scene.

Tank trucks carry anything from water to highly flammable or corrosive materials. And just like engine fluids, if there’s an accident, these can leak, too. In many cases, drivers are not trained to respond to large chemical spills, and, even in the event of a large tanker spill, they will not be called upon to assist with actual cleanup duties for those liquids. However, because they could encounter a wide variety of hazardous liquids, it’s a good idea for everyone to have at least a general awareness of the hazards that they could face at an accident scene.

Fire departments, the local emergency management agency or the local hazmat team are all good sources for free or low-cost hazard awareness training. This training won’t train drivers to gear up and respond to a big spill, but it will give them an understanding of how to look for hazards and help them to understand the steps that they can take to stay safe.

Protecting the Bottom Line

Employees are arguably a company’s most valuable asset, so protecting them from harmful chemical splashes that might occur while they’re out clearing vehicles from a scene should be a priority. As spill response supplies are being chosen, consider what types of gloves, splash goggles and other PPE might also be needed to keep drivers safe.

It is important to have PPE that is resistant to the fluids that drivers will regularly face. But, it is also important to recognize that no single type of glove, splash suit or other piece of PPE will protect workers from everything. If they are at a scene with an unknown chemical, it is far safer for them to step back and wait for help from someone who has knowledge of the chemicals involved than it is to wear PPE that won’t properly protect them from harm.

Understanding Absorbents

Absorbents come in lots of different colors, shapes, forms and sizes. In most cases, choosing the wrong one won’t bring doom and utter destruction – but just like tools, choosing the right one will make the job go a lot more smoothly.

The first thing to know is that absorbents come in two types: universal and water-repellent (also called “oil-only”). Universal absorbents are non-selective – they will absorb just about any liquid that comes into contact with them. This can be a good thing because they always work, no matter what the liquid is. But, it can be bad if the absorbent is not compatible with the liquid. It can also be bad if it is raining because the absorbents will pick up both the spilled liquid and rainwater, so more absorbents will likely be needed to get a spill cleaned up.

Water-repellent or oil-only absorbents only absorb oils and petroleum products. These are a first choice for response in bad weather because they’ll repel water and only absorb the oils and petroleum products present. The limiting factor is that they will not pick up coolants, battery acid or any other water-based liquids. When choosing absorbents for a spill kit, it’s a good idea for drivers to have both universal and oil-only absorbents.

The next thing to understand is which form of absorbent to use: socks, mats, or loose. Having a combination of these three forms will help get small spills under control and cleaned up quickly.

Socks come in different lengths, and like other absorbents, can be either universal or oil-only.  The main function of socks is to create a dike that absorbs and stops the spill from spreading any further.

Absorbent mats are used to quickly soak up spills that have been contained. They can also be placed under something that is slowly dripping to catch the drips until the source of the leak can be found and repaired.

Loose absorbents are probably the most familiar. They can be poured around a spill to dike it or sprinkled over a contained spill to soak it up. The limiting factor with loose absorbents is that they need to be swept or shoveled up after use, unlike mats and socks, which are easier and faster to pick up after they’ve done their job.

The last thing to consider is how much liquid each absorbent can hold. This helps to determine how many of each type of absorbent to put into a spill kit. Most vehicle spills are less than 10 gallons. In most cases, a spill kit that absorbs 10 to 20 gallons will fit in the cab, and will be lightweight enough for anyone to pull it from the cab for fast use.

Spill Kit Picks

Spill kits come in different shapes and sizes.  They can come prepackaged from a supplier, or they can be put together onsite from materials supplied by different vendors.  Like tools in a toolbox, as time goes on, operators will discover which products and tools they like the best and which are the most useful. Some of the most common items in spill kits are:

  • Absorbents (socks and mats)
  • Appropriate PPE
  • Hand wipes
  • Temporary disposal bags
  • Patch and repair items

Prepackaged spill kits come in both one-time-use and refillable varieties. One-time-use kits are convenient because when they are used at a scene, they can be quickly replaced with a new kit.   Refillable kits can be more economical, and can be refilled as the contents are used.

Ready for Action

People rarely call for a tow truck unless something has gone wrong. Disabled vehicles and highway accidents cause traffic congestion and can spur additional accidents. Being prepared to handle small spills quickly and safely adds value to towing services, prevents fluids from being tracked from the scene and minimizes slippery road conditions caused by fluids that leak from vehicles.

Karen D. Hamel is a technical specialist for New Pig Corp. She has over 20 years of experience helping environmental, health and safety professionals find solutions to meet EPA, OSHA and DOT regulations.  She is a hazmat technician, serves on the Blair County, PA LEPC, is a CERT trainer and has completed a variety of hazmat response and NIMS courses, including Planning Section Chief. She can be reached at 1-800-HOT-HOGS® (468-4647) or by email karenh@newpig.com

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When Opportunity Goes Down The Drain

By Perry Beaty

Cleaning up an accident scene can involve more than sweeping up broken glass especially if a Big Rig is the casualty. Highway mishaps where fuel spills occur can sometimes prolong vehicle recovery efforts if it becomes necessary to pump off the fuel tanks.That task requires a certified Hazmat technician known as “HAZWOPER” an acronym for Hazardous Waste Operations.

The Federal Government requires that anyone engaging in the clean up, (remediation) or disposal of contaminates or hazardous material be trained and certified as per OSHA Regulations CFR 1910.120, which involves 40 hours of training.

Heavy duty vehicle recovery operations stand by and experience long periods of response time for clean up companies to arrive and perform their task of pumping off damaged saddle tanks before towing away the disabled unit. Youʼre already on the scene so why not take charge of the entire cleanup and collect the revenue for the fluid spill? Have your personnel certified by a Training staff which may conduct training with flexible days and hours to accommodate your business.

Your roster of towing clients is an established customer base ready for your services. Traffic accidents are not the only source of response. Loading dock mishaps at freight terminals and scheduled degreasing of fuel islands are of many opportunities.

There are Consulting entities for Insurance companies and the transportation industry for highway and rail (example) that engage in transporting hazardous goods across the nation. These Consulting firms maintain a list of qualified and certified companies that provide services to clean up any casualty in different locations in the country; (much like motor clubs for towing,flat tires, jump starts).

Once you become affiliated with many of these firms you can expect remediation calls through this medium.

Tools and supplies such as personal protective gear, absorbents, spark resistant hand tools, pumps, hoses will be your initial investment. Equipment such as backhoes or bobcats and dump trucks can be rented per job.

We all know the authorities love quick responses, and youʼre already on the scene!

Continue Reading