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In May 18, 2008, Lafayette, Louisiana had to evacuate 3000 residents after a chemical spill that was caused by a derailed train. The overturned train was said to have released an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 gallons of toxic chemical known as hydrochloric acid, a highly potent cleaning household agent. This chemical can burn skin and cause severe eye irritation when it comes in contact with a person. It can also cause respiratory problems such as chest pains, difficulty of breathing and sore throats.
Such chemical spills are very harmful to the environment, humans and animals. The dangers of chemical exposure in large quantities can affect an entire region for several decades before it can be declared safe and habitable. The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) requires federal and local government states to provide their own development plan against chemical spills in their community.
This act helps increase public awareness within states and communities working with industrial facilities. EPCRA was established in response to the disastrous 1984 chemical spill in Bhopal, India that initially killed 2000 people. This act also covers the concerns regarding environmental and safety hazards posed by the storage and handling of toxic chemicals.
To utilize this act, industrial employers must meet the EPA's requirement of handling spilled chemicals within their immediate facilities. Use of proper equipment must be practiced to prevent endangering the lives of others and the environment.
In the event of spills inside the facilities, the first response is to contain the spill before it can enter drains, destroy equipment or cause fire hazards. The proper device to be used in containing hazardous chemicals is Hazmat or Chemical Spill Response Dikes.
Hazmat Spill Response Dikes act as a shallow barricade for aggressive flowing chemical spills. These can stop the spills from spreading further. Once the entire chemical contents have been contained, use of hazmat absorbents such as rolls, pads, and pillows are ideal for cleaning up the liquid wastes. These ensure proper containment of fluids while the toxic spills are getting absorbed.
The Hazmat Dikes and Booms are also used to contain and absorb chemical spills. These have high absorbency which can hold up to 18.75 gallons of liquid without dripping. These are ideal for more potent chemicals that are dangerous to clean. Their absorbing capacity makes it safer for emergency workers to reduce the risks of prolonged chemical exposure. Workers are required also to put on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) while cleaning toxic spills.