THE ATTACKS on the United States September 11 were a catalyst for industries that handle hazardous materials to review and expand their security systems. As governmental agencies began issuing security warnings and giving notice that companies would be examined for their security measures, industry associations helped in disseminating the information.
Already active in hazmat safety, the many associations used their Web sites to post data that would be relevant to the emergency. Others contain extensive safety information that has long enabled the industry to improve its hazmat procedures.
Following are examples of those Web sites that aid their members and the public in keeping the country safe from hazardous materials incidents, whether as accidents or from deliberate criminal intent.
As first responders in communities across the United States contend with emergencies, the nonprofit National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has created a page on its Web site to provide free and simplified access to its state-of-the-art hazardous materials response standards and other relevant information.
In addition to anthrax threats, first responders also face daily encounters with common chemicals that can be even deadlier. Regardless of the type of chemical or biohazard, all first responders must be adequately informed for their own safety and well-being, the association states.
Widely adopted and used internationally by fire and emergency service workers, three hazmat documents have been posted as free pdf downloads. They are NFPA 471, Recommended Practice for Responding to Hazardous Materials Incidents; NFPA 472, Professional Competence of Responders to Hazardous Materials Incidents; and NFPA 473, Professional Competence of Emergency Medical Responders to Hazardous Materials Incidents. In addition, NFPA is offering pdf files of supplemental materials taken from the Hazardous Materials Response Handbook.
“NFPA's goal is to support the public safety mandate of first responders while at the same time reinforcing the importance of their own safety from occupational hazards,” says NFPA's public fire protection chief Gary Tokle. “Chemical and biological terrorism are high-profile topics today; yet fire and emergency response personnel deal with common hazardous materials on the job every day. It is essential that they understand and adhere to the established standards of hazmat response.”
The Hazardous Materials Advisory Council (HMAC), which has changed its name to the Dangerous Goods Advisory Council, promotes regulatory compliance and safety in the transportation of hazardous materials, substances, and wastes. After the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced it would be making visits to companies that handle hazardous materials, HMAC posted the agency's information on its Web site. Highlights of the agency's plans are included in the information and can be accessed from the HMAC site.
As HMAC's primary purpose is to provide information to understand the current regulatory requirements of transporting hazardous materials, the association offers a variety of training courses and distributes information about present or proposed laws and regulations. The Web site covers the association's services and provides information about the courses and meetings.
The Chemical Transportation Emergency Center (Chemtrec) posted information on its Web site to help its members handle new security issues.
Site security guidelines and contact information for state agencies of emergency management are posted on the Chemtrec site. As part of their continuous improvement programs, the American Chemistry Council, along with the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association, and the Chlorine Institute, prepared the site security guidelines as a tool to assist in implementing a quality site security management system. The guide has been developed by a group of company security professionals and is designed specifically for the chemical industry and to help companies build upon their existing security programs.
Information for reaching the state offices and agencies of emergency management contains addresses, telephone numbers, and e-mail addresses.
An arm of the American Chemistry Council, Chemtrec serves firefighters, law enforcement, and other emergency responders in an effort to obtain information and assistance for emergency incidents involving chemicals and hazardous materials. Chemtrec also helps hazmat shippers comply with Department of Transportation hazmat regulations.
As an entity of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the United States Fire Administration (USFA) strives to reduce life and economic losses due to fire and related emergencies, through leadership, advocacy, coordination, and support. On the agency's Web site, information for responders is available for tank trailers, railcars, and chemical storage tanks.
The pages hold diagrams of tank trailers and list their descriptions, including DOT406/MC306 non-pressure liquid trailers, DOT407/MC307 low pressure chemical trailers, MC312 corrosive liquid tank trailers, MC331 high pressure tank trailers, including both transports and bobtail trucks, MC338 cryogenic liquid tank trailers, dry bulkers, and intermodal containers. The pages also list typical commodities transported.
Information is presented for the general approach to a hazmat incident, including regulatory issues that should be considered. The site includes a chemical page search engine and an alphabetical section that produces an extensive list that defines the chemical and its properties. In this same category is a chemical glossary. The Hazardous Materials Guide for First Responders can be ordered through the site.
HazDat, a database for the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry's (ATSDR), is a scientific and administrative organization developed to provide access to information on the release of hazardous substances from emergency events or Superfund sites.
Internet HazDat can be accessed directly from the ATSDR Web site by clicking on any one of the database queries listed. This method of access to the database was made possible by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA).
Information on the Web site related to hazmat includes site characteristics, activities and site events, contaminants found, contaminant media and maximum concentration levels, impact on population, community health concerns, ATSDR public health threat categorization, ATSDR recommendations, environmental fate of hazardous substances, exposure routes, and physical hazards at the site and event.
In addition, HazDat contains substance-specific information such as the ATSDR priority list of hazardous substances, health effects by route and duration of exposure, metabolites, interactions of substances, susceptible populations, and biomarkers of exposure and effects.
HazDat also contains data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) comprehensive environmental response, compensation, and liability information system.
ATSDR has conducted public health assessments at more than 1,450 sites, developed toxicological profiles for more than 150 hazardous substances, performed more than 5,000 health consultations, and conducted or funded more than 150 health studies. These activities have resulted in the publication of many agency documents. Important information from these source documents has been abstracted into the agency's HazDat database, and new information is added on a continuous basis. Information is updated on a regular basis.