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Response to HazMat Scenario, Case Study Example

Pages: 2

Words: 641

Case Study

First of all, after consulting with the HazMat Team Coordinator that works at the site of the spill and upon the arrival of the HazMat team members, I would instruct one of the team members (ideally the most experienced member) to cautiously approach the punctured drum lying on its side to determine the nature of its contents via the warning label. Although this scenario does not identify the hazardous material by name, it appears to be fuming nitric acid, due to the fuming cloud of vapor. This substance is a strong oxidizing acid which can cause a fire if it comes into contact with other substances and materials. In essence, nitric acid is extremely hazardous as a corrosive (strong enough to eat its way through a steel floor) and poisonous to humans (Nitric Acid, Fuming, 2001).

After identifying the substance as fuming nitric acid, I would go online and locate OSHA’s Occupational Safety and Health Guidance Manual for Hazardous Waste Site Activities which provides instructions on site control, decontamination, site emergencies, and of course how to handle drums and other containers that are either tipped over or punctured.

Upon finding out all of the information on fuming nitric acid, I would relate it to all of the HazMat team members, the HazMat Team Coordinator, and the plant manager who could then relay the information to all employees that work within the area of the spill. In addition, I would make an attempt to check and see if any other drums with other corrosive materials have been punctured.

As to the situation itself, I would prioritize the following activities–1) make it clear to all HazMat team members that fuming nitric acid is “toxic by inhalation, a strong corrosive, and poses a fire risk that may explode upon contact with reducing agents” (Burke, 2003, p. 367); and 2), insist that all employees in the plant be evacuated until the spill has been contained.

I would also do the following actions–1), call the local fire department just in case of an explosion or fire and fill them in on the nature of the spill; and 2), contain the area of ther spill with heavy protective material in order to keep it separate from the rest of the area that has not been contaminated. As to restraints, I would make certain that no one approaches the spill without protective gear, due to the fumes which if inhaled can cause permanent lung damage. In addition, I would advise the plant manager to call the local police to have the area sealed off to all pedestrians and the roads leading into the plant shut down for at least 500 yards distant.

If other individuals or employees show up at the scene, I would immediately tell them of the nature of the spill and that fuming nitric acid is extremely dangerous; I would also advise them to leave the area of the plant but if they insist on hanging around to stand upwind in order to avoid exposure to the fumes.

Perhaps the best advice I could provide to the plant manager concerns the fifty-five gallon punctured drum of nitric acid sitting near the door between the oxidizer storage area and the production department. As a hazardous materials expert that learned quite a bit from the leaking tanker incident that occurred several days ago, I would tell the plant manager to move the oxidizer storage area as far away from the door of the production office as possible. I would also tell her that federal laws set up by OSHA require that hazardous materials like fuming nitric acid must be stored separately from other substances, especially those that could cause a fire if they were to interact with the fuming nitric acid.

References

Burke, R. (2003). Hazardous materials chemistry for emergency responders. 2nd. ed. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Nitric acid, fuming. (2001). Retrieved from https://classes.hazmatschool.com/resources/NitricAcid.pdf

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