How a Hazmat Response Network Can Protect Your Company

By: Josh Lovan, Contributor

Think about the following scenario involving an accident that occurs after-hours on a Friday evening: Your linehaul supervisor receives a call from a driver who struck road debris and punctured a fuel tank. Thinking it’s a small incident, the supervisor calls a wrecker company to respond to the scene. The wrecker company offers to handle the fuel spill, and the linehaul supervisor gives verbal approval.

But, come Monday morning, the safety team receives the accident report and subsequently learns that the wrecker company is still onsite and has gone “all-in” all weekend, at twice the standard pay rate. Unfortunately, this scenario is a common occurrence in the trucking world and, if you experience it, you will always remember it.

What can be done to avoid these unexpected costs and ensure cleanup is done correctly?

Hazmat Response Networks Can Help

Consider partnering with a national hazardous materials (hazmat) response company. These companies have contracted rates with preferred vendors throughout the country, and they understand federal, state and local regulatory complexities.

Most fuel spills do not require immediate full remediation efforts. A hazmat response company will often flag the spill site and return during normal business hours with the appropriate equipment, which can result in a $10,000 invoice—instead of a $100,000 invoice.

All states have reporting requirements for fuel spills, but they are inconsistent with released quantity thresholds and the timeframe for reporting spills. A hazmat response company handles all required notifications and prevents your company from receiving citations for untimely reporting. The benefits of a hazmat response network are numerous. These entities can:

  • Contain the spill and avoid working on nights/weekends, keeping costs lower
  • Make the appropriate federal, state and local emergency notifications
  • Ensure responders are HAZWOPER-certified for handling hazardous substances
  • Perform invoice auditing to document all aspects of remediation and to prevent price gouging
  • Be available through a single source phone call, eliminating the need to research local hazmat teams

A hazmat response network can also handle environmental-type issues that might not be in your core area of expertise. They can also:

  • Obtain necessary permits from the Environmental Protection Agency, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, fire departments and other involved agencies
  • Handle hazardous waste, including disposal, labeling, transporting and obtaining waste manifests
  • Perform decontamination, testing and reporting of remediation site to appropriate agencies
  • Assess soil and groundwater during site investigations
  • Ensure site restoration is acceptable and appropriate levels of vegetative growth is evident.

It’s All About Managing Risk

To help manage risk, it’s recommended to completely document significant spills and remediation efforts. In more extreme examples, fuel spills can drain into waterways and spill sites can be expanded during heavy rains, creating further environmental damage.

Aside from the financial burdens associated with citations and penalties for not properly handling a spill, your company’s brand can be tarnished by negative media reports.

Consider the Benefits Carefully

Does a national hazmat response company make sense for your organization? If so, speak with your leadership team about the benefits of a hazmat partner. When your linehaul supervisor receives a call from a wrecker company about the next fuel spill, have confidence that your professional hazmat partner will handle the spill; help you avoid unnecessary expenses; and, most importantly, protect your brand.

About the Author

Josh Lovan joined J.J. Keller & Associates, Inc. in 2021 as an Industry Business Advisor after spending 15 years in the transportation industry. He specializes in hours of service, hazmat, injury prevention, security and motor carrier safety management.

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