It would be interesting if statistics were kept on how many delivery and work trucks have had spills in the last year. At BC Hazmat Management, this is something we see all too often. Now to be fair, accidents happen. We are all human and mistakes get made or vehicles have mechanical failures in spite of our best efforts. Engines can leak oil, gas, coolant. Tidy tanks can be overfilled, spill or leak. Hydraulics can fail (and seem to often enough).
Where things go wrong is when those mistakes or mechanical issues are not acknowledged or paid attention to. All too often we see cases where drivers have not checked their vehicles before or while driving (walk around and mirrors work well). What occurs next is that an isolated leak or overflow is now spread over a huge area. The challenges with this scenario, now the risk to the environment is that much greater (oil/gas/chemicals will flow into storm drains), and the cost to properly mitigate and cleanse the area has just gotten a whole lot more.
Again there are times when accidents happen and a spill will be spread, but for a majority of the spill cases that we see, there are some simple solutions. Every delivery vehicle should have a spill kit and the drivers should all have the training to use them. For those of you who are now saying”, this is overkill” or “this is just a cash grab.” Let’s look at the facts. A driver identified a spill quickly, contained it with a spill boom, pads and/or leak stop device. In most cases, the spill could now be cleaned up at a very minimal cost. Let’s not forget that the trained driver has now prevented serious environmental damage by keeping the spill out of the storm drain.
In cases where the spill hasn’t been stopped and spread over a large area, you’ll need to call in a company such as BC Hazmat Management. You’ll be paying for equipment and hours of manpower to now cleanse the area and hopefully stop or mitigate the environmental damage. These costs can range from a very low of $1000 to tens of thousands. In most cases, it’s higher than lower due to the amount of work required when a spill has been spread. These spills can also cause your business to be fined or charged and let’s not forget the PR nightmare and damage that can do. Everyone today has a cell phone camera. The cost of staff training and spill supplies for a truck are peanuts compared to the cost of large clean-up. Once again, let’s also not forget preventing damage to our environment.
Let’s talk kitty litter or absorbents. We do not recommend these as tools used to clean a spill. We see folks using them in an attempt make an area safe to walk or drive on. Ask motorcyclists how they like hitting these granules on the pavement as they turn a corner. The real problems are that granules will release the chemicals (oil) when they get wet. Once it rains we have the oil once again washed down our storm drains. Not to mention there are laws against leaving these materials on the surface. Left on the surface they get tracked around by vehicles and people walking. We even hear stories of pets getting the granules in their paws and getting very sick as they lick their paws to clean them. Would you feed your dog motor oil? A better solution is spill pads and booms. If you use the proper ones that only pick-up hydrocarbons (we teach this stuff) then they’ll soak-up the oil such that you can pick-up used spill pads and booms and dispose of them in an environmentally safe manner. This is far more efficient, takes less work and in fact, in some cases the pads can even be recycled. So much better for the environment! In some cases, you may still need us to come in and finish the job with proper oil eating cleansers but your costs will be so much lower.
Of course the big response we hear day after day is, it’ll never happen to me or my business. At least 80% of the spills we deal with are the ones that “would never happen” or “have never happened.” So the moral of this story, it’s far more cost effective to have delivery and work truck drivers trained and trucks stocked with a spill kit than deal with the dollar and environmental costs afterward.