The Secret to HazMat Response

Protect has been in the business of responding to hazardous material spills for over twenty years.  During that time, new technologies and techniques have been introduced and marketed as a ‘cure all’ for environmental remediation needs.   These new technologies may show promise in certain circumstances, but each one comes with limitations.  Experienced safety and emergency response professionals can see through the marketing hype around new products.  They realize that new additions to the cleanup and remediation market need to be examined thoroughly before being utilized in situations where the well being of humans and the environment is at risk.

Bio-remediation in soils is an example of a technique that is recognized as being useful in some but not all situations.  It can result in the breakdown of contaminants into less toxic substances, but it is a slow process.  Bio-remediation works well when contaminants are minimal and mostly immobile, but it isn’t recommended in areas that are highly sensitive to the spilled material or where the material can run off into waterways.

Super absorbent polymers were developed in the 1960’s and have since been used in numerous consumer and safety products.  These polymers are commonly sold as absorbents for chemicals spills due to their ability to absorb and retain a large amount of liquid.  Since these polymers will soak up oil products and water; however, they are ineffective at removing petroleum contamination from waterways.  They will also absorb a number of different chemical products, but the user has to exercise caution since certain chemicals, such as Nitric Acid, will react with the polymer and can cause a fire or explosion hazard.

Pozzolanic stabilization is very effective at removing the leaching ability of metals from waste sludges and contaminated soils, but its usefulness essentially ends there.  Spills of solvents, fuels and most other waste materials should not be exposed to the chemical reactions involved with this type of stabilization.

Today, chemical recovery scrubbers are commonly touted as the most effective way to clean up hazardous materials and petroleum spills.  Once again, this type of technology has certain uses, but does not guarantee a quick and complete cleanup.  Spilled liquid material can easily spread while a scrubber works its way through the area and rough surfaces such as concrete roadways slow down the cleanup process.  Once the material reaches waterways, storm drains or soil, the scrubber is no longer effective.  Non-miscible products such as oil based paint are extremely difficult to remove with scrubbers.  Also, since they utilize water, it’s not advisable to use them for cleaning up corrosives or water reactive material.

The truth is that there is no one machine or technique that is always applicable to every HazMat spill.  Response contractors that lack an experienced professional staff will try to make up for it by emphasizing new gadgets and machines.  Be wary of anyone promising ‘state of the art’ or ‘proprietary’ solutions since real HazMat professionals know every situation is unique and requires different strategies.

Emergency response companies have to invest in new equipment and trucks to tackle tough spill situations, but the most important asset they can invest in is their employees.  Protect Environmental has spent the past twenty-one years focusing solely on hazardous materials emergencies and special waste disposal, so our HAZWOPER certified teams have unmatched experience.  They know how to properly analyze and respond to any spill situation while complying with State and Federal laws.  Every member of our staff believe in what we do and work hard to give our clients the best possible outcome when spills strike.  That is the secret to HazMat response.

HUBNFPA Member

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