Hurricane Preparedness Best Practices for Hazardous Waste Management
Experts have forecasted that the 2022 hurricane season, ranging from June to November, will bring above average activity. Often, a natural disaster, such as a hurricane, requires emergency response to manage the displacement of hazardous waste. Necessary responses can include identification of unknown substances, spill containment, proper waste handling and clean-up.
Unfortunately, many businesses focus more on how to address the aftermath of a hurricane, rather than being proactive. One of the most dangerous and costly mistakes companies can make is neglecting to prepare hazardous waste for the impact of natural disasters. To reduce the risks of injury, environmental harm or regulatory penalties, a successful emergency response requires extensive expertise and knowledge of hazardous materials and waste management.
As we head into peak months for hurricane development, Clean Earth is here to help businesses prepare and remain compliant. Below we have listed our top tips to ensure effective preparedness.
1. REVIEW HAZARDOUS WASTE INVENTORY
Before any action steps can take place, it is necessary to understand what is considered hazardous waste. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines hazardous waste as “waste with properties that make it dangerous or capable of having a harmful effect on human health or the environment.” Once an item with hazardous properties is no longer usable, it is deemed hazardous waste.
2. TRACK THE PATH OF A STORM
Groups like the National Weather Service offer tools, maps and alert systems to help individuals and organizations stay in front of dangerous and potentially threatening storm systems, including the ability to get warnings by state.
3. STORE CONTAINERS IN A SECURE AREA AND VERIFY PROPER CLOSURE
If a hurricane is coming your way, take steps to prevent waste from releasing inside the facility and into neighboring communities. When possible, remove excess waste and hazardous materials from the facility before inclement weather hits. Containers should be closed, sealed and relocated to a reinforced area or off-site space. Elevated containers can help prevent a release, especially if flooding is a concern.
4. SEGREGATE WASTE
Clearly identify and segregate waste to avoid chemical reactions and keep spill kits available and well-stocked. Ensure the materials are in proper containers, in secure locations, and ultimately go to their end disposal in a manner that meets regulatory requirements of the EPA, Department of Transportation (DOT) and all regulatory agencies.
5. SET UP AND SHARE EMERGENCY RESPONSE AGREEMENT
Even with a proper emergency response plan in place and great awareness of the importance of regulatory compliance, it is often necessary to enlist the help of hazardous waste removal experts. Professional response is essential to several high-pressure tasks, such as identifying unknown substances, managing spill containment, handling hazardous waste and overseeing clean-up.
Ensure you have an emergency response service agreement in place, and your team has the contact information before disaster strikes.
6. REVIEW EMERGENCY RESPONSE PLANS
Examine your facility’s contingency plans and understand evacuation routes. Strategize on a successful emergency response plan and have the plan in place before it is ever needed. When developing a natural disaster emergency plan, consider:
- Who will make crucial decisions in the event of a storm?
- What is the chain of command and communication?
- Who will be involved in hazardous waste management?
- Who will assist in waste removal?
Clean Earth is available around-the-clock to help businesses keep employees and facilities prepared and safe during hurricane season. Our team has responded to thousands of environmental emergency calls, providing disaster recovery assistance after hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and other natural disasters.
Set up an emergency response service agreement with us to ensure you are prepared in case of emergency. To learn more about how we can assist you in emergency preparedness and response, contact us today.
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