When a chemical spill clean up is needed, you can count on our UK emergency response services
Here at Yellowstone Environmental Solutions, we offer a range of nationwide emergency response services.
In this article, we will look at how to handle a chemical spill in order to minimise the negative impact on wildlife, the general public and the environment while also limiting the legal repercussions.
Yellowstone’s essential emergency response services
With a wealth of experience in waste management, we serve clients in the manufacturing, engineering, marine and shipping, oil, gas and aviation industries amongst others. Since they involve a range of hazardous substances, these are some of the sectors where an effective environmental emergency response to spill incidents is most vital.
Our competent team is highly experienced in dealing with a range of spills including:
- Fuels & oils, such as petrol, diesel and soluble oil
- Marine and aviation fuels
- Heavy fuel oil (HFO)
- Foodstuffs, such as milk, beer or sugar
- Drain blockages and flooding issues
- Chemicals such as paints, acids alkalis, and slurries
For the purposes of this article, ‘chemical spill’ will be used to describe any number of substances that have been accidentally spilled or discharged into the environment.
How to handle a chemical spill
A chemical spill has the potential to be devastating to humans, animals and plant life as well as the built and natural environment.
Fortunately, we have the expertise to cope with a range of urgent spill incidents – from one-off events to major industrial emergencies. We attend infrastructure environments, industrial buildings and manufacturing plants, as well as marine establishments, fuel and gas sites and food production facilities.
As part of our emergency procedure, we offer a rapid and reactive response for all types of spill clean-ups.
Our team of emergency spill specialists provide a comprehensive service which covers:
- Providing initial advice to the clients and obtaining crucial details of the situation on-site.
- controlling and investigating the source
- containing the spill with an on-site spill kit, sand, earth etc
- treating substances with dilution or stabilisation solutions
- isolating the contaminated area
- contacting and liaising with authorities where necessary
- Mobilising the required crew to safely clean up the spill – vacuuming etc
- decontaminating the area
It is crucial that all types of spills are cleaned up as quickly as possible by qualified personnel. Our hazardous waste emergency response includes:
- wearing the correct Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for each situation
- Using the correct spill kit for each incident and disposing of the waste in a safe legal manner
- Providing generic and specific RAMs to suit each event
- having in-depth knowledge and expertise of the clean-up procedures and minimising site disruptions
On completion of each clean-up operation, we provide a detailed report of the works carried out and any further requirements to ensure no further pollution issues. We always comply with Health & Safety Executive (HSE) guidelines. This also includes consulting a Safety Data Sheet to ensure we are aware of the risks posed by the spilled material and to make appropriate provisions to protect our emergency team as well as the environment where the spill has occurred.
Chemical spills – health and safety concerns
In the case of certain chemical spills, the first consideration is the immediate risk to health and safety, namely:
- Oils and other chemicals can pose major health risks through contact with skin or eyes
- Toxic chemicals can be poisonous when fumes are inhaled
- Oils and chemicals can create a slip hazard
- Flammable substances can combust
In the event of a spill, it is essential that professional assistance is utilised to ensure the chemical spill clean-up is as quick, efficient and thorough as possible. However, the effect on the environment depends on the spill substance.
Applying absorbents to the spill may not remove the fire and slip hazard or keep the spill contained. The area will need to be thoroughly and safely decontaminated before it can be classified as a safe environment. We can carry out spill clean up services for surface water and groundwater contamination and contaminated surfaces and soils.
The legal ramifications of a chemical spill
Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, if a chemical spill causes pollution then a company will face investigation as well as prosecution and hefty fines. Fines can reach hundreds of millions of pounds – depending on the level of harm and negligence that is attributed to the company. This can be costly and also causes considerable reputational damage.
If oil or hazardous chemicals escape into controlled waters, it constitutes a breach of the Water Resources Act 1991. In addition, if the spill enters unmade ground, it can then leach into the groundwater which is in breach of The Groundwater Regulations Act 2009.
Following investigation, the Environment Agency may prosecute company directors and other parties who are considered responsible – they may face a custodial sentence.
A chemical spill could also make waves in civil law. A company may be fined if a spill and the subsequent contamination impacts on the interests of nearby residents or landowners.
Why choose our emergency response services
Our emergency spill response services are available nationwide, 24/7, 365 days a year. With our own state-of-the-art waste transfer station, fleet of tankers and expertise in waste disposal, you can rest assured that your emergency is in capable hands. Our end-to-end service also means that there’s a full chain of custody for your chemical spill clean-up operation.
After the initial concern of a chemical spill, operational downtime is also a consideration. After reducing the risk of pollution we also limit downtime which can lead to loss of revenue.
However, we firmly believe that prevention is better than cure. As well as knowing how to handle a chemical spill, we also offer:
- planned preventative maintenance
- regular waste stream management – disposal and treatment
- decommissioning services
- compliant and effective safety management systems for emergency response and spill control procedures
We ensure that our clients meet and comply with all regulatory requirements. We take the time to understand your businesses and the waste streams you generate in order to implement risk management plans that minimise the chances of an emergency. By helping to reduce risks, we ultimately limit the risk of your company receiving fines or penalties.
Whether you require emergency spill response services or would like to discuss tailored preventative measures, call our team today on 0330 118 0381