Section 3: Emergency Spill Response

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Hazardous material spills/releases may occur on TxDOT property and the right of way. At the spill location, TxDOT's first concern is human safety. TxDOT employees should take an active role to protect themselves and the traveling public.

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TxDOT's role in emergency spill response is to provide support to the lead agency—Department of Public Safety (DPS), Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), or local fire marshall—in the containment and cleanup. All TxDOT personnel who may encounter a hazardous material spill or release require Hazardous Materials Awareness Training. For more information about TxDOT's hazardous material cleanup policy, including notification requirements, see the Occupational Safety Manual, Chapter 5, Section 6.

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Spill Response

Most spills are a result of a traffic accident; usually, TxDOT is called to the scene by law enforcement. Safety of TxDOT personnel and the motoring public is priority. Department personnel are specifically prohibited from handling, cleaning up or otherwise coming in contact with toxic or hazardous materials at accident scenes or abandonment sites on the department's right of way. Vehicle fluid cleanup of less than 25 gallons is the only exception to handling or cleaning up hazardous materials at accident scenes or abandonment sites.

The table below outlines the responsibilities of each agency involved in an emergency spill response.

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TxDOT staff*

  • restricts public access
  • provides traffic control at the site until relieved by DPS or other on-site coordinator
  • reports all pertinent information to supervisor
  • supervisor reports information to district hazardous material coordinator
  • district engineer/hazardous materials coordinator notifies appropriate governmental agencies such as TCEQ, DPS and local fire department


  • performs the on-site coordination of transportation emergencies for all unincorporated areas

Fire marshall

  • performs on-site coordination of transportation emergencies for all incorporated areas


  • acts as lead state agency for spill response

*Note: TxDOT personnel should not handle, clean up or otherwise come in contact with toxic or hazardous materials at accident sites.

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Spill Response Preparation

TxDOT supervisors are responsible for:

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  • ensuring state vehicles have a copy of the USDOT Emergency Response Guidebook
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  • maintaining updated emergency notification list, including telephone numbers for DPS, local law enforcement, fire department, district hazardous materials coordinator, and the TCEQ
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  • instructing employees to remain clear of accident areas contaminated with known or suspected toxic or hazardous materials.
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