HAZARDOUS MATERIALS


Definition

Hazardous Materials Transportation Accident: An incident that involves the conveyance of hazardous materials on highways or railroads resulting in loss of containment of a substance or material in a quantity or form that will cause severe injury and/or loss of life, as well as significant property damage, destruction or forcing evacuation of people from the impact area.

Hazardous Materials Incident (Site): Loss of containment of a substance or material in a quantity or form that will cause severe injury and/or loss of life, as well as significant property damage, destruction or forcing the evacuation of people from the impact area.

Background

The U.S. Department of Transportation classifies a material as hazardous if it is corrosive, explosive, toxic, ignitable, biologically irritating, radioactive, or packaged in a dangerous container.

Hazardous materials play a vital role in the generation of heat and power petroleum distillates, natural gas and nuclear fuel rods. These are just a few of the purposes for hazardous materials. These materials are stored on site at many industrial sites and are transported via all modes over most of our roadways.

More than 4 billion tons of hazardous materials are transported annually. It is estimated that 100,000 trucks carry hazardous materials over the roadways on a daily basis. Forty-five percent of all freight trains carry hazardous materials. In Maine, 80% of all transported hazardous material is moved via rail.

History

Although the most recent hazardous materials incidents were not serious, the town has experienced several hazardous materials incidents. There has been no major loss of containment, but the potential for such exists. The most recent incidents include:

A Poland Spring Bottling Anhydrous Ammonia leak from its refridgeration units.

Another incident at Poland Spring Bottling occurred on 8/2/97. This incident involved a spill of powdered chlorinated sanitizing agent (Trichlor-o-cide XP160) Sodium Dichlorostriazinetrione. The event was handled according to plan, and was eventually contained and cleaned up.

Other small hazmat spills have occurred over the past several years, typically involving petroleum products. (gasoline, kerosene, etc.)

Major transportation routes 26, 11, 122, and 121, as well as the Grand Trunk Canadian National Railroad, as well as known hazardous materials sites, influence the town's hazardous materials incident risk profile. A potential incident that can occur spontaneously, at any time of year, threatens several people and structures within a 2000 foot corridor along any one of the aforementioned potential incidents' routes. Duration of the event may be up to several days.

Time of Year

A hazardous materials incident can occur at any time throughout the year.

Speed of Onset

The collision or incident causing a loss of containment is spontaneous. The release of a chemical(s) if there is container failure is rapid. However, clean-up and recovery activities after a hazardous materials incident could range from hours to several days.

Area of Impact

The consequential effects of an event involving hazardous materials are:

 

Return

Copyright 2002, Wayne Cotterly

Revised: 10/22/02