Spill Responsibility

007-1When an accident happens on a roadway or in a workplace, investigators will try to determine who or what caused the accident.  However, the party that causes the accident may not necessarily be responsible for the cleanup of the cargo or any hazardous chemicals, regulated materials, or fuels that are spilled.  The company that transports or has custody of the material at the time of release is charged with initiating immediate response actions.  This is the case regardless of whether the company’s driver caused the accident.  The cost of the spill response may ultimately be paid for by the carrier’s insurance or another entity but as the responsible party, they are legally obligated to make sure that the spill is remediated; meaning the affected area is returned to its original condition and all wastes that are generated are properly disposed of.  Failure to live up to these legal responsibilities could result in crippling fines or even jail time for the violators.

Lacking a comprehensive emergency response plan is a costly mistake and, unfortunately, many transporters learn this lesson only after one of their vehicles becomes involved in an accident.  Waiting to take action or scrambling to find a response contractor after a hazmat spill means that valuable time is being lost.  Every minute that passes after an accident is another minute that the spilled materials is spreading further and becoming more difficult and more expensive to address.  For example, once a spilled fuel or oil reaches a storm drain or waterway, the reporting requirements change and the cost to perform the cleanup skyrockets.

Just having any response contractor on site right after a spill will not necessarily be sufficient.  An expedient cleanup requires a reliable and professional response team that has the right equipment, broad experience, and extensive technical knowledge.  Since the consequences following any spill ultimately fall on the responsible party, a company can still face costly regulatory fines and may even have to hire another contractor to complete or redo the cleanup because their initial contractor failed to perform correctly.  These unprofessional spill groups run up enormous costs, fraudulent billings and leave unsuspecting companies facing monetary and government issues.
004-1Our goal at Protect Environmental is to provide the fastest, most economical response possible for chemical spills.  We have performed in this fashion for over two decades.  We are family owned and operated and care about customer service and satisfaction.  Protect’s clients call on our expertise repeatedly to help them handle their emergencies because we give them the immediate response and perform all the regulatory reporting they need to avoid government penalties.  We don’t like to say that we’re the best at what we do because our clients say that for us.

Call or email our office today to find out more.  If your company has a “Spill Broker” in place, insist that they place Protect Environmental on their call out list.  You, your broker and your insurance company will find that our service, speed and cost effectiveness are the absolute best in the North Texas region.

That’s our promise to you.

 

Medical Waste: Storage and Disposal

Protect team removes medical waste illegally dumped on a North Texas roadway.

Protect team removes medical waste illegally dumped on a North Texas roadway.

Healthcare facilities are a common sight across the landscape and are essential to the health and well-being of the public.  These facilities produce many types of waste during the process of treating patients.  These facilities will commonly generate municipal solid waste, hazardous waste and radioactive waste, along with a type of waste specific to healthcare facilities called medical waste.  Regulations from the TCEQ and EPA regarding medical waste are meant to limit the improper disposal of medical wastes and infectious materials and mitigate the potential harm to the public.  OSHA also sets regulations for how employees should handle wastes.

Healthcare facilities that don’t follow regulations or don’t use licensed disposal contractors are not only risking human health, they could also face harsh penalties from regulatory agencies.  The following are a few essential points to know about medical waste management.

What is medical waste?

The broad answer is that medical wastes are produced at healthcare related facilities and pose a risk of spreading infection.  Nursing homes, primary care offices, dialysis centers, hospitals, dentists’ offices and veterinarians fall under this category.  As with most places of business, these facilities will produce regular trash and medical wastes that would include bodily fluids, feces, body parts, sharps (used needles) and any materials contaminated by them. The Texas Administrative Code states that hotels and private dwellings are not considered health care facilities and thus are exempt from most of the standards set by regulators.

What are Sharps Containers?

Used needles, razors and other disposable utensils that can easily poke or cut protective clothing and skin are called sharps.  Healthcare facilities that use sharps collect them in disposable containers, often plastic, that protect employees and patients from injury.  Most of these containers are not meant to be emptied and reused so attempting to do so can be extremely dangerous.  Employees should also place sharps directly into the container after use and never attempt to recap them.

How should medical waste be stored?

Medical wastes in general are required to be stored in a secure container that limits its exposure to animals, people and the weather.  The waste must also not provide a breeding area for insects or give off noxious odors.  Many medical facilities will seal wastes in durable bags and place them into plastic tubs or corrugate boxes.  Bags, boxes and plastic containers are usually red or yellow and should the proper labels identifying them as biohazardous or medical wastes.

How is Medical Waste Disposed of?

Most landfills cannot accept untreated medical waste so it is usually handled in one of two ways: incineration or autoclaving.  When waste is incinerated, it is burned by fuel fed devices and reduce the waste to ash or slag, rendering it inert.  When a waste is placed in an autoclave, heat and pressure are applied to destroy any microorganisms.  Both methods sterilize the wastes and eliminate the risk of an infection spreading to anyone who comes into contact with the waste.  After medical waste has been treated through either method, it is safe to place into landfills.

Whether you work for small private practice or a large health care system, Protect Environmental can help you navigate the regulations and find disposal solutions that meet your facility’s needs.  We take pride in helping our clients get their waste to the appropriate facilities and keeping it out of the environment so after contacting our office we’ll work hard to keep your organization in compliance 100%.

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