Preparation for Releases From Tanks, Pipes, Trucks

Companies responsible for pollution events requiring emergency response and cleanup are subject to a maze of regulations. Nearly 30,000 federal, state, provincial and local jurisdictions throughout North America require reports within a specified time-frame after incidents involving releases of hazardous materials and other regulated substances.

Failure to comply with these reporting requirements can result in fines and penalties, which insurance companies do not cover. If your company is at risk for environmental releases of hazardous materials, petroleum products or other regulated substances – whether from storage tanks, pipelines, property development, manufacturing, railroad operations or other commercial transportation businesses – we urge you to survey your entire operation and make detailed preparations now to handle the event in a way to minimize environmental harm as well as costs to your company and potential spill-related liability.

Next prepare a contingency plan that lists whom to call and which agencies require incident reports after pollution events and environmental releases requiring cleanup and site remediation. The plan should spell out your company’s preferred spill response and reporting instructions in the event of a release and who should be notified, internally and externally, to manage the response.

The plan should include the names and numbers of cleanup contractors who are qualified to handle spills of materials used in your operation in the areas where you run equipment and have facilities. The plan should also include the contact information and reporting requirements of local and state environmental regulatory agencies, as well as federal environmental authorities. The plan should be kept in a secure place, where key employees can access it at a moment’s notice – preferably online.

You might also include the name of an expert in spill reporting and response coordination, such as Spill Center, that has the know-how and experience to take charge after an environmental release or newly discovered pollution event, coordinate the response and manage the cleanup. Spill Center is a North American leader in environmental claims and emergency response management. Here’s what the party responsible for the pollution event needs to make happen:

• Stop the spill to minimize its environmental impact
• Contract with a qualified cleanup contractor
• Remove spilled material and contaminated soil
• Dispose of materials and soil in a legal manner
• Remediate the site to its pre-spill condition
• Complete all required reports on time

Truck fleets can expect about one percent of their power units to be involved in a spill each year. Typically, those releases involve ruptured saddle tanks or crossover fuel lines. An average of 100 gallons of fuel is released, resulting in the average cost per incident of more than $15,000, according to Spill Center records.

With more than 20 years experience assessing and managing environmental releases, Spill Center, is staffed by legal, technical and environmental specialists. They provide services to help improve your company’s readiness to respond to environmental releases quickly and efficiently. Clients range from the largest truckload, LTL and private fleets to small fleets, truck leasing companies, as well as chemical, environmental and insurance companies.

Spill Center staff members are available 24/7, 365 days a year, to help clients with incident reporting, finding cleanup contractors and providing expert advice to help contain costs and limit potential liability related to environmental releases. They can also assist in preparing your spill contingency plan and keep it secure in a password-protected computer system, where you can access it 24/7.

You will also have access to Spill Center’s database containing more than 3,000 qualified contractors throughout North America and much of Canada from which you can select. Listings of nearly 30,000 federal, state, provincial and local jurisdictions requiring incident reports after pollution events are continuously updated in another database. That helps Spill Center clients avoid fines and penalties for non-compliance with incident reporting regulations.

No company will have enough spills to get good at handling them efficiently and cost-effectively. By aligning yourself with an expert like Spill Center, who is equipped to provide assistance when you need it most, you broaden your state of preparedness and help minimize your company’s spill-related costs and potential liability. That also includes an auditing service that can shield you from being overcharged by contractors and emergency responders who seek reimbursement for the cost of their response.

While pollution events requiring environmental cleanup are an expensive proposition, spill generators often pay more than they should by failing to closely examine invoices. That includes bills from your local fire department. Spill Center offers an expert invoice auditing service that seeks to ensure fair pricing by comparing invoiced charges vs. accepted standards. Any inflated charges are negotiated down. The service is part of our comprehensive program for clients to help them control costs and limit liability arising from spills.

One Spill Center bulk hauler client recently saved more than $1,700 in spill-related charges after we audited an invoice from a cleanup contractor. Contacted by one of our compliance associates, the contractor agreed to reduce the charges for several invoiced items and eliminate several others. That is not unusual in this business.

Part of our service for our clients involves making requests for documentation from fire departments and other agencies which seek reimbursement. We request the department's fee schedule, copies of records showing time in and out, copies of bills for cleaning and equipment replacement. We also request a copy of the ordinance or law that authorizes the department to seek reimbursement.

The goal of our auditing service is to get the invoice to the point where it can be evaluated fairly and properly. Insurance premiums often are calculated on the amount of money paid out on behalf of the insured party, so it's in the best interest of the spill generator to determine the real costs and to make sure that they are driven by law.

Our clients know that they can contact Spill Center anytime, day or night, on weekends or holidays, and get a live person on the other end of the line who is ready to take down the details of your release – by phone or an online connection – and put your contingency plan into action. Clients whose operations put them at risk for pollution events of any kind rely on Spill Center for a fast, professional response.

This information is provided by Tom Moses, president of Spill Center®, Inc., which 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.

Tom is considered a leading authority on environmental regulations and compliance issues in the transportation industry. His expertise includes chemical security; environmental and 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: Or contact Tom Moses by phone at 978-568-1922, x222 or email at

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