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Section 4: Oil and Hazardous Material Spills

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Policy

Department personnel may only participate in containment, clean up, or neutralization of material that has been determined to be non-hazardous to their health or safety. (See also Occupational Safety Manual, Emergency Planning section.)

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Abandoned Hazardous Materials

If hazardous materials are abandoned on TxDOT's right of way, and the responsible party cannot be identified, it becomes TxDOT's responsibility to ensure proper disposal. It is recommended that a blanket purchase order for containment, material identification, and material disposal be developed. A blanket purchase order could also be used in non-emergency situations. Contact the Environmental Division for assistance with abandoned hazardous materials found on the right of way. In some cases, the TCEQ may elect to use their own hazardous material contract. For additional assistance, contact the TxDOT Emergency Management Coordinator.

Responsibility: TxDOT personnel should follow standard safety procedures and report pertinent information to their supervisor immediately. TxDOT supervisors should contact the district hazardous materials coordinator and local law enforcement officials if needed. hazardous materials coordinators should oversee removal and disposal when the responsible party cannot be identified. TxDOT personnel likely to encounter abandoned hazardous materials require Hazard Materials Awareness (SFH430) Training.

Process:

  • Waste is discovered by TxDOT personnel or is reported to TxDOT.
  • Restrict access to material. Keep the public away from any hazard, and provide traffic control.
  • Survey the scene from a safe distance. Access the integrity of the container(s);
    • the existence or possibility of runoff
    • presence of any dead animals are nearby
    • the distressed nature of surrounding vegetation
    • evaluate any markings on containers
    • assess the physical characteristics of material
  • If determined an emergency, due to location, material characteristics, etc., proceed directly to contract for containment, material identification and material disposal.
  • Determine responsible party.
    • evaluate labeling on container(s) from a safe distance to determine whether a potential responsible party can be identified
    • contact party to pick up and properly dispose of container(s)
    • if responsible party cannot be identified, contact TCEQ regional office for possible assistance in identifying the responsible party

Reference:

Texas Transportation Code, §§224.031 and 224.032

State of Texas Emergency Management Plan

Contracting: Contracting for cleanup, testing, and disposal is to be handled by:

  • Third party—trucking company or manufacturer
  • TCEQ—should they assume responsibility for the clean-up
  • District—Contact Environmental Division for assistance, if the responsible party is not taking appropriate actions or if TCEQ has not assumed responsibility for the clean-up.
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Hazardous Substance Spill Contingency Plan

The TCEQ is the lead agency in hazardous material spill response. Emergencies involving spillage, release, and/or abandonment of known or suspected toxic/hazardous materials are the prime responsibility of the TCEQ. (Ref. Texas Water Code) It is important for department employees to remember that only trained personnel should ever approach a fire or spill. Department personnel are specifically prohibited from handling, cleaning up, or otherwise coming in contact with toxic/hazardous materials at accident scenes or abandonment sites on the department's right of way. Doing so may adversely affect the health and/or safety of department personnel.

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