HazChem Environmental garnered wide acclaim in the early 1990s for its strong capabilities of handling chemical waste disposal for Illinois entities and other companies in the Midwest.
“Many companies had a very large hazardous waste collection,” said Chris Johnson, Co-owner of HazChem, “They needed disposal and, again and again, we would be called to handle the work.”
Today, HazChem still delivers on its promise to assists companies in handling their chemical waste disposal. And HazChem remains dependable in handling hazardous waste collection from entities in nine different states.
But it was around the year 2000 when HazChem’s owners were noticing another part of their business booming — emergency responses.
“The large freight-transport companies in the Midwest kept calling us out to their terminals to clean up their spills,” explained Alan Shapiro, Co-owner of HazChem. “We were very thorough and I always felt that was appreciated. But the feedback we kept getting is that these large, worldwide carriers were happy that we’d clean the spills completely —and do it quickly.”
On July 29, 2021, at 5 p.m., Shapiro received a call from a 20-year client of HazChem’s, which also happens to be one of the largest freight-shipping companies in the world.
“The way this spill was handled, start to finish, reminded us of why companies keep calling us to handle their emergency chemical waste disposal needs and their emergency spills,” Shapiro said.
A 55-gallon fiber drum containing BMX Trax Glue had completely emptied onto a trailer and underneath the trailer at a Chicagoland terminal.
“There were eight large pallets of freight on this truck and this glue was all over the floor,” said Shapiro. “The outside needed to be cleaned up before that truck could be moved otherwise the truck’s tires would have spread glue all over the terminal.
“Needless to say, this was a mess. We’ve obviously dealt with larger emergency spills, in terms of gallons spilled, in our 31-year history. But on this particular spill on July 29, our client told us they were in the middle of a very busy night and really needed that trailer to be back in operation mode within 12 hours, if possible.
“I promised our client we’d do our best to get this spill cleaned up within their timeframe.”
Upon receiving word from Shapiro to move forward, the HazChem crew assembled at HazChem’s home base in Addison, loaded up an emergency truck with the necessary supplies, mobilized to the spill site and began work at the terminal at 6:54 p.m.
The crew put down the necessary oil dry on the trailer floor. Then scrappers were used to pick up as much glue as possible. As each pallet was pulled from the trailer, the crew cleaned underneath each skid — using scrapers and Universal Pads. The crew put the damaged 55-gallon fiber drum into a drum liner bag (to be brought back to HazChem for transport and disposal).
Once all the freight was pulled from the trailer, a large puddle of glue sat at the nose.
“From there,” said Johnson, “the crew scooped up most of that remaining glue with our shovels. Once the puddle was picked up, the crew put down one final bag of oil dry and finished the cleanup of the trailer.”
The crew then went outside, cleaned off all tires, and then cleaned up the spilled glue from the ground.
There were five drums full of waste (worked-in-oil dry, glue, pads, contaminated shrink wrap and PPE), and those drums were put on the HazChem Emergency Truck for transport and disposal. The crew then departed the terminal at 9:58 p.m.
“Well,” said Shapiro, “just before our crew left the terminal, the entire area where the spill had occurred, on the trailer and outside the trailer, was inspected by the on-site supervisor of the transport company. The supervisor told our crew manager, ‘Great job.’ And the supervisor said, ‘I’m glad I don’t need to red flag this trailer,’ which means the trailer was able to be used immediately. The transport company then began reloading freight onto the trailer.
“So, from the time we received the phone call until the time our crew left the cleanup site, was less than five hours. Our client was happy —and that’s the most important part of everything.”