DOW CORNING Corp and Transport Service Company personnel know that teamwork is required when responding to emergencies. That's why the two companies joined forces recently to produce a training exercise for responders from both industry and public agencies. More than 90 responders were involved in the two hazardous materials training exercises.
The Responsible Care drills were sponsored by Dow Corning and held at the company's Midland, Michigan, site, according to John Talbot, Dow Corning distribution equipment specialist. Representing the public sector were responders from the City of Midland.
"We think the training exceeded our expectations and that we accomplished all of our training goals and learned many valuable lessons on how to combine industry and public response effectively," said Talbot.
Two tank trailers used in the exercises were furnished by Transport Service of Hinsdale, Illinois. In addition, the carrier also provided drivers to participate in the drills and instructors to conduct classroom training.
Before tackling the mock emergency, responders attended a one-hour classroom training session. "A secondary goal of the planning team was to train all the responders on MC307 and DOT407 cargo tanks," said Talbot. "Since these cargo tanks are the workhorses of the tank transport industry, we wanted responders to know and understand their features. We also wanted them to learn how to make an emergency closed-loop field transfer to an undamaged cargo tank."
Closed-loop transfers are required when transferring hazardous materials. In a closed-loop transfer, vapors are returned from one trailer to another, or a vent scrubbing system is used to eliminate vapors from entering the atmosphere, he said.
The exercises simulated an MC307 in collision with a pickup truck. The collision resulted in a flammable material leak from the valves. To emphasize realism, a slight odor was added to colored water, which was used to simulate flammable material. The sense of realism was enhanced by not telling the responders the product was water. They based their actions on the products listed on a manifest.
Command System When the drill began, an incident command system was established by the Midland City Fire Department and an assessment of the hazards was made. Spill containment was established and product was identified.
Responders conducting air monitoring were given sample bags with actual airborne concentrations of the spilled material for analysis and establishment of hot, warm, and cold zones.
During the drill, a Midland County Mobile Command Vehicle was deployed to provide equipment for a large scale incident command and communications. The command staff addressed logistical issues of providing food, rehabilitation supplies, and restroom facilities.
After notifying the shipper of the mock accident, a foam blanket was applied to the spilled material. Dow Corning hazmat team members were summoned and a joint incident command system was initialized. Just before the city fire department truck's foam supply was depleted, a Dow Corning pumper truck with 3,000-gallon foam capacity arrived on the scene to resupply the city's truck.
"This provided an easy way to add large scale foam proportioning to already deployed hose lines," said Talbot. "There was a good exchange of knowledge on nozzle selection and application techniques during the operation. The teams worked together to maintain a continuous foam blanket on the spill."
Valve Closing The entry teams slowed the leak by closing the valve. They tightened and capped the external manual valve. The internal valve was closed by snapping off the emergency break away on the hydraulic line, a skill taught in the classroom session.
Because the tank trailer could not be moved, a decision was made to contact the carrier and request a nitrogen-purged and inert trailer to make a product transfer at the site. Transport Services brought the trailer onto the accident scene and team members transferred the product.
"The day of training ended with a wrap-up session to review what was learned and what needed to be changed," said Talbot. "Responders agreed the realism was excellent and that they benefited by not knowing in advance what to expect."
David Cole, training chief for the Midland City Fire Department, said, "The thing that I really like is that we always try to put together exercises that are realistic, yet cover the types of incidents we need to learn about. I think that on this one, we nailed it right on the head."
Talbot seconded Cole's remarks, adding, "In this case, a chemical manufacturing facility, a key chemical carrier, and local emergency response agencies had a wonderful opportunity to work together and practice and improve their emergency response skills. This will result in long-term skills and relationships that will allow more safe and efficient response to emergencies in the future."
Dow Corning responders were from the company's Midland site safety and loss prevention department. Hazardous materials team members also were from the company's facilities in Midland, and from sites in Carrollton, Kentucky and Hemlock, Michigan.
The public sector responders were from Midland City Fire Department, Midland County Emergency Services, Midland County Central Dispatch Authority, and Midland County Emergency Medical Services.