When a spill of a chemical product occurs, the responsible party must make sure certain actions are completed in order to meet their legal obligations. Regardless of whether a spilled chemical is on private property, it must be reported to certain regulatory entities if the spilled amount exceeds certain limits. These limits are referred to as ‘Reportable Quantities’ and will vary depending on what material is spilled and whether it was spilled on land or water. Even if the spill is cleaned up in a quick and thorough manner, the responsible party can still potentially face severe penalties for failing to report it to the proper authorities.
In Texas, most spills of hazardous materials above the reportable quantity need to be reported to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) as soon as possible within the first 24 hours after a spill occurs. The person reporting the spill must submit information including the name of material spilled, how much was spilled, where the incident occurred and the name, address and contact information for the responsible party. The names of the government agencies or private contractors responding to the incident should also be provided.
After the responsible party makes the initial call to the TCEQ, they then have thirty working days to submit a final report to the TCEQ that outlines the extent of the spill and how cleanup operations were conducted. This report should include a response timeline, maps, photos, sampling activities, descriptions of the waste generated and relevant disposal documents. If the responsible party fails to submit the report stating that the spill has been adequately cleaned up or does not formally request an extension due to ongoing response activities, the TCEQ can levy fines and other penalties against them.
Timely spill reporting is an aspect of HazMat response that can easily be overlooked by companies that aren’t well versed with environmental laws. Shippers who regularly carry large amounts of hazardous materials may already be familiar with reporting requirements but companies that haul typical consumer goods are vulnerable to penalties as well. The amount of fuel, hydraulic fluids and oil that commercial vehicles and heavy equipment typically carry well exceeds the 25 gallon reportable quantity for petroleum products spilled onto land. When these types of vehicles are involved in accidents the odds are that the spill will need to be reported; especially if any of the product reaches a waterway.
When Protect Environmental’s HazMat teams respond to a chemical or fuel spill, they can recognize when the spill needs to be reported and will make the call to the TCEQ for the client. After operations are complete, our staff collects documents, photos, maps and other detailed records of the cleanup to compile the final report. We ensure that a responsible party’s legal obligations are met because our goal at Protect Environmental Services is to protect the environment and our clients.