When packing an Emergency Response Truck for a spill, one can’t be too careful.
“We’ve seen it all in our 31 years in business,” said Chris Johnson, co-owner of HazChem Environmental. “We’ve been called to clean up a paint disposal issue and showed up to find glue had spilled.
“We’ve been called to clean up a ‘3-gallon spill’ and showed up to find a 3,000-gallon spill — the manager of that freight terminal was in a nervous state and simply misspoke.
“So we try to prepare, best as possible, for what we might be facing.”
November 19, 2021 was a day where solid planning assisted HazChem in helping its client during an emergency hazmat spill.
An $800 million company in Chicagoland called HazChem at 6:30 a.m., saying an “undetermined amount of Heze Huayl Disinfecting Granules had spilled in a lab room and two damaged Super Sacks were the cause.”
Johnson made a snap decision.
“‘Undetermined’ was the key word for me,” Johnson said. “When we hear anything like the word ‘undetermined,’ we have to assume a lot has spilled out.”
Johnson then instructed his Emergency Crew Manager to make sure a third new Super Sack was put on the Emergency Truck.
“Well,” said Johnson, “we like to operate on the theory, ‘It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.’ My hunch was this spill was going to be a significant amount, not a quick cleanup. We already knew the danger involved.”
Heze Huayl Disinfecting Granules is a product that can cause irreversible eye damage and can be fatal if inhaled.
Once the three-man HazChem crew made it to the spill site (roughly an 85-minute drive), they saw approximately 50 pounds of product had spilled.
“Our crew donned Tyvec Suits with Air Purifying Respirators, which is essential facing a spill like this,” Johnson said.
The crew put as much of the spilled oxidizer as possible into 55-gallon Open-Top-Poly drums. To pick up the finer granules, the crew used a Hepa-Vac Machine.
The crew over-packed the two damaged Super Sacks on the premises into two of the new Super Sacks HazChem had brought to the spill site.
After making sure the area was fully cleaned and safe, the on-site supervisor approved the cleanup work of the HazChem crew.
Soon after, the HazChem crew was heading back to HazChem’s home base in Addison, IL.
The crew was on the road less than 10 minutes when they received a phone call from the client.
A third damaged Super Sack was found on the premises, not in the area the HazChem crew had worked.
“Our client said their employees had overlooked this third torn Super Sack in another area of their facility,” Johnson explained. “These things happen. They said the tear wasn’t that large and the spillage wasn’t, yet, that large, so they asked our crew if they could turn around and head back to their facility. Of course we did exactly what our client wanted us to do.”
Fortunately, the HazChem crew had the already-loaded third Super Sack in its truck.
“That paid off nicely for our client,” Johnson said. “Time is money and our client did not need to pay us to wait around and have a third Super Sack brought out to the premises. Our crew returned, handled this spill effectively and — needless to say — our client was very happy.”