General Guidelines for Spill Containment and Clean Up

In case of chemical or oil spills, the responsibility of a prompt and appropriate clean-up lies on the individual or party that caused the spill. They are also responsible for ensuring spill containment and arranging a thorough spill clean-up. Whatever spill containment systems, cleaning products, and equipment may be necessary, they must be arranged at the earliest possible moment in such a dire and crucial situation.

 Strategic Facets of a Chemical Spill Scenario The following guidelines and tips may help achieve efficient spill containment and clean-up:

  • As a first step in a spill response plan, inform the occupants of the affected area and alert the management or supervisors about the emergency. If necessary, evacuate the affected area.
  • If the situation requires medical support or poses a fire hazard, call 911 for immediate back-up and proper notification.
  • Make use of spill kits and spill absorbents to protect floor drains and any other potential sources of environmental contamination.
  • Distribute spill containment products over the entire affected area. This will help minimize the chances of splashing or spreading of the spilled fuel or chemical.
  • Specialized spill containment products may be required to handle hydrofluoric acid related spills. Regular spill absorbents may not suffice for this task.
  • When the chemical, oil, or fuel spill containment task is completed, use a long-handle brush to scoop the absorbent materials into appropriate containers. Small spills may require polyethylene bags for this purpose, while larger quantities of spills may require 5- or 20-gallon drums lined with polyethylene.
  • Waste minimization and appropriate waste management must be a key part of your spill plan. Affix the spill waste containers with Hazardous Waste stickers and identify the spill debris involving a particular chemical. Such waste may require to be disposed of as hazardous waste.
  • Use environmentally friendly spill products to decontaminate the affected surface completely following a spill clean-up.
  • Make sure that any such chemical, fuel, or oil spills are reported to the appropriate authorities promptly and accurately for further investigation, and for the development of future spill prevention plans.

Fundamental Spill Contingency Planning Your spill response plan must be in accordance to the size and extent of the spill. A minor spill may be treated with 2 ounce spill kits effectively. A medium spill may require 6 quart spill containment kits. For larger spills, public safety assistance may become necessary. The ready availability of spill containment systems is critical to successfully managing a chemical spill as well as having all personnel react accordingly and abide by practiced, dictated, and rehearsed spill hazard protocol.

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