“You are back at your plant the Monday after the Dangerous When Wet leaking tanker incident happened, and you are telling your fellow HazMat Team Coordinator how you handled the situation. Before he has a chance to offer his opinion, a call comes in over your radio that a forklift has punctured a 55 gallon drum at the door between the oxidizer storage area and the production department. There is a spill, and no one is injured; however, the production employee does not know what was spilled. You make an immediate page to all emergency response team members in the area, and then you head out the door to the scene with your fellow HazMat Team Coordinator (the production department chief engineer). While en route to the scene, you call the plant manager and apprise her of what you know and that you will report back as soon as you have more information. The incident command center can either be the production office or the conference room near the plant manager’s office. In this case, your first choice is the production office.
The storage area building has multiple storage bays for oxidizers, flammables, acids, and bases. When you arrive near the scene, you find the punctured drum on its side against a pallet of three other drums and a very small fuming cloud of vapor developing from the area, but you cannot tell its exact point of origin. It turns out that the drums are just inside the storage area building. You can see that the drums on the pallet have flammable labels. The fourth flammable drum has been knocked off the pallet and is also lying on its side next to the punctured drum. The punctured drum has not been identified at this point – it is a strong oxidizer, strong acid, or strong base raw material.
How do you proceed? What information are you after, how do you gather it, and what instructions do you provide for your team? What hazardous situations are you and your team facing? If you need to, you can differentiate these situations depending on the punctured drum being a strong oxidizer, strong acid, or strong base. Develop a brief priority list and a brief action list for what you should do. What, if any, restraints should you exercise? What advice would you give to any other individuals coming upon the scene? Do you call for an evacuation of any, or all, of the plant itself? There are approximately 180 employees currently on site during this first shift – located in different areas around the plant (i.e., administrative offices, shipping and receiving, raw material bulk chemical storage, finished product bulk chemical storage, production operations, packaging operations, labs, and production/engineering offices).
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