A few weeks ago, some hazmat workers in a town north of Impact Absorbents’ headquarters stopped an early morning chemical spill from reaching local waterways.
At 1 a.m., firefighters found a 20-gallon spill of an unknown substance on the roadway, and an abandoned 55-gallon drum and three other containers left on the side of the road. Crews isolated the area, and a hazardous materials specialist identified the substance as a petrochemical liquid that posed no threat to the community.
Thankfully, the substance was removed from the roadway and didn’t get into nearby storm drains that lead to the Petaluma River. But hazardous or not, this should never have happened.
Here’s the proper way to deal with a hazmat substance:
- Know the regulations. Whatever they are where you live and work, the government regulations will never say dumping a hazardous substance (or any substance) by the side of the road is okay. Aside from caring about the environment and other people, that’s basic common sense.
- Wear appropriate PPE. In the age of COVID, personal protection equipment ought to be second nature. Whether it’s goggles, gloves, masks, helmets, boots, or a full Tyvek hazmat suit, protect yourself before handling any potentially toxic substance.
- Follow best practices. There are best practices for storing, handling, transporting, or disposing of hazardous materials. Again, none of them involve indiscriminate dumping.
- Train and educate yourself and others. Seek to comply with the requirements or recommendations of your employer, industry, or regulators, and make an effort to share your experience and expertise with colleagues, customers, suppliers, or community members, in order to promote a culture of safety and responsibility.
At Impact Absorbents, we take hazmat very seriously. Our nine Hazmat Spill Response Kitscontain everything you need for safe and effective chemical spill clean up and disposal.
There are times when one must pull off to the side of the road: to take or make an urgent phone call, to answer the call of Nature, or perhaps just to rest a few minutes if you’re on a long drive. But abandoning hazardous materials — or anything, really — on the side of the road is completely unacceptable, hazardous or not. The outdoors belongs to everyone, and we each need to treat it as an extension of our home and workplace. Protecting the environment is an outside as well as an inside job.