Consider Value of Outside Spill Experts

The EPA classifies spilled fuel as hazardous waste. Any incident resulting in contamination of drinking water by fuel or oil should be reported to the National Response Center, the federal point of contact for reporting oil and chemical spills. Environmental liability for spill damages goes to the spill generator, even if the release occurred as a result of a highway accident in which the truck driver was blameless. As the spill generator, it's your responsibility to contain the spill, report it, then clean it up.

Nearly 30,000 federal, state and local jurisdictions across the U.S. require incident reports from spill generators. Shippers and transporters who are unprepared to handle spill emergencies quickly and comply with all reporting requirements can end up with major expenses for cleanup and disposal services, liability issues, and steep penalties for failing to file incident reports on time.

But no fleet should ever have enough spills to get good at handling them. By aligning yourself with experts who are equipped to provide assistance when you need it most, you broaden your state of preparedness and help minimize your spill-related costs and liability. Spill Center, for example, assists clients with custom spill contingency planning, makes cleanup contractor referrals, and handles all required regulatory reporting, incident screening, invoice auditing, and documentation of incidents.

You might ask why you should sign up with Spill Center or another organization providing spill support services when you are already covered by insurance. The answer is simple. Insurance companies do not pay fines and penalties arising from failure to report spills or for late reporting. For that reason, insurance companies do not train people to understand reporting documentation or controlling cost and limiting liability related to spills.

Spill Center compliance associates, who include legal, technical and environmental specialists, are on call 24/7 to coordinate spill response and complete telephone and written reports for clients. They fill out more than 300 US DOT Incident Report Forms each month as part of Spill Center's program of spill-related services for clients – more incident reports for clients than any other organization in the country. As such, we were recognized with a seat on the US DOT Task Force on proposed rule making for the DOT 5800.1 Incident Report.

Our highly sophisticated spill reporting and documentation program is applied to the management of every incident that Spill Center handles for clients. A database of current regulations for nearly 30,000 federal, state, provincial and local jurisdictions throughout North America is a key resource for clients. Spill Center compliance associates are experienced in filing NRC, EPA, DOT, state, and local reports. Even if you're comfortable filing your own reports, we are working every day to add new online report generation tools to cut down on your paperwork.

You might also ask that if you do not handle hazmat, why would you want Spill Center services? Because not all regulated spills involve cargo. In fact, about half of the spills processed by Spill Center involve ruptured saddle tanks or damaged diesel fuel lines. The average amount of fuel released is just over 100 gallons, and the per-incident cost can top $15,000. When it comes to fines and penalties for failure to report, most jurisdictions do not distinguish between diesel fuel and hazmat. They view them the same.

Environmental authorities take their reporting requirements very seriously. One private fleet was fined $75,000 by the N.J. Dept. of Environmental Protection after a routine diesel fuel spill of 30 gallons. The truck swerved to avoid hitting a car and scraped a saddle tank against a guard rail, puncturing the tank.

The driver, equipped with a spill kit, stopped the flow from the tank, and the company filed a full accident report with the N.J. State Police. But the fine came from the failure to comply with the state's environmental reporting requirement. The police had not mentioned the requirement; and the company thought it had done everything required of it. In this case, ignorance was anything but bliss.

This information is provided by Tom Moses, president of Spill Center®, a company he founded in 1990 as a North American resource for companies at risk from hazardous materials releases. He holds a law degree and a certificate in hazardous materials control and emergency response, and he served as a U.S. EPA toxicologist. Mr. Moses is considered a leading authority on environmental regulations and compliance issues in the chemical transportation industry. His expertise includes chemical security; environmental/safety regulatory compliance; crisis response management; and environmental claims resolution, negotiation and settlement.

The Spill Center program is designed to help clients deal with environmental releases swiftly and thoroughly to avoid trouble with regulatory authorities. For more information, visit the website at or contact Tom by phone at 978-568-1922 x222 or email:

External Links:
Hazardous Materials - OSHA Safety Training
DOT HAZMAT Safety Training - OSHA Safety Training

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