How to Stay Prepared for Spills

Every facility should maintain a contingency plan to prevent accidents from becoming disasters. Before implementing a response plan, it is crucial to maintain the proper spill absorbents and provide training for all employees. While creating a spill preparedness plan, take the time to observe your facility’s environment.

Surveying Your Spill Area

By taking the time to survey your area, you should notice things like:

  • Slope: Warehouse floors, driveways, parking lots and natural terrain will show you where the spill will travel. The trick here is not to chase the spill but meet the spill with the oil absorbent materials in a strategic location. 
  • Water Ways: If you are near bodies of water, you will have to take stock and imagine the worst case scenario and prepare for it. Have an action plan in place along with adequate spill absorbents on hand. When hydrocarbons hit the water, they can spread very quickly. 
  • Response: How far and how much? How far away will your response team be from a possible spill, and how much material will they need to carry to the spill? Shortening the response time and having adequate spill cleanup equipment in strategic locations allows you to respond effectively.

When formulating a contingency plan for spill preparedness, the following questions may provide valuable insights:

1. What kinds of liquids may consist of the spill (oils, water, coolants)?
2. Where could the spill occur (is it a facility, lake, marina, warehouse, on soil/ground/   
    sealed floors?
3. What is the anticipated size of the spill (small spill, emergency cleanup)?
4. Does your environment/facility need an anti-static product?
5. What is the expected duration of the spill? Will it be considered Hazmat? Medical?
6. Are you looking for reusable or disposable pads? 

large spill kitsSpill kits, designed for quick access, can play an integral role as part of a response plan. They normally come in three different types: oil only, universal, and hazardous material. Each kit is designed for a specific purpose, such as spill control, regulatory compliance, or preventive maintenance. Spill kits contain a list of products that facilitate a swift response according to an established contingency plan. They can be customized to meet your unique needs.

How to Effectively Utilize Your Oil Absorbents 

Combining the correct equipment and training with a clear contingency plan ensures that your facility is adequately prepared. With a thorough plan in place, the incidence of a spill can be handled safely and efficiently. The following is an 8 step guide for spill response.
Methods for Oil Spill Containment and Clean Up

Identify
Identify the type of liquid spilled and determine the ways in which it will impact your environment.  

Notify
Notify the proper personnel according to your contingency plan. Once the extent of the spill is understood, measures can be taken to isolate the area.

PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)
Wear appropriate safety gear before addressing the spill. 

Contain
Once the correct absorbents or kits have been chosen, limit the spill area by blocking, diverting, or confining the spill.

Stop the Source
This could simply involve turning a container upright or plugging a leak from a damaged drum or container. Once the leak has been stopped the liquids should be transferred from the damaged container to a new one.

Clean Up
Once the absorbents are saturated, they may be considered hazardous and should be disposed of properly.

Dispose
Dispose of materials according to your local, state and federal regulations. Contact your local disposal company for clarification.

Update and Review
Make sure your call list is up to date. You should be able to contact someone in your chain of command or the responsible agency/dept. Review the effectiveness of your contingency plan.
These methods are meant to act as a guide for companies to follow. They do not constitute a spill response plan in themselves. However, they do provide a framework of reference for facilities to build a customized plan. Implementing these methods as part of your plan will ensure that your facility will be prepared to respond to unexpected spills.

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