Slay Transportation saves $1,700 with invoice auditing after fuel spill

Oct. 1, 2009
Earliers this year, a close inspection of a cleanup contractor's invoice for work done after a diesel fuel spill on an icy road saved one tank truck carrier more than $1,700, according to the Spill Center

EARLIER this year, a close inspection of a cleanup contractor's invoice for work done after a diesel fuel spill on an icy road saved one tank truck carrier more than $1,700, according to the Spill Center.

Spill Center president Tom Moses said a tank trailer belonging to St Louis, Missouri-based Slay Transportation Co Inc jackknifed in southeastern Pennsylvania early one morning, hospitalizing the driver and spilling 40-50 gallons of diesel fuel from a ruptured saddle tank. None of the cargo — toluene diisocyanate, a toxic chemical used in the production of polyurethane products — was released, but a product transfer was needed.

State Police arrived at the scene and notified the carrier and a local cleanup contractor. The York County Emergency Management Agency also was on scene. Upon learning of the accident, Slay Transportation's safety director notified Spill Center's 24/7 call center to make required incident reports.

A Spill Center compliance associate took down the details of the Slay Transportation incident and determined which agencies needed to be contacted. Compliance associate Calvin Teixeira handled the spill.

“We notified each agency that requires reports and contacted the cleanup contractor at the scene to go over requirements for the product transfer and site remediation,” he says. “Normally, we also provide a list of qualified local contractors to the subscriber to select from, but in this case, the police already had a contractor on the scene.”

The site was excavated and the contaminated soil, which filled two roll-off containers, soon was ready to be taken to a disposal site.

“At that point, we got a quote for disposal from the contractor, and forwarded it to Slay Transportation,” Teixera says. “We sent written reports to the regulatory agencies, advising them that the remediation and disposal had been completed.”

All required reports, both by telephone and written, had been filed on behalf of the carrier, avoiding fees and fines for non-compliance, he says.

A long-time Spill Center subscriber, Slay Transportation is the 13th largest bulk carrier in the United States, running an ultra-modern fleet of 700 tractors and 1,200 trailers - with an average trailer age of five years. Over 550 drivers work for the company, which has an excellent safety record and a collection of safety awards to prove it, according to Ted Tahan, Jr, Slay Transportation's vice-president and general counsel.

“We use Spill Center a couple of times a year, sometimes on non-emergency incidents,” he says. “They do an outstanding job. It's the ease of reporting and the quality of their employees. You're talking to people who know exactly what needs to be done, and they do it efficiently.”

Slay runs 48 states, as well as Canada and Mexico, traveling through hundreds of different jurisdictions requiring reports after spills.

“There is absolutely no way on earth we could keep track of all those individual cities, counties, states and federal reporting regulations,” Tahan says. “Knowing that Spill Center stays on top of all of the regulatory requirements is a relief. The same thing applies to their cleanup contractor database. We know we can get the assistance we need after a spill with a single phone call to Spill Center.”

After the incident in Pennsylvania, the invoice sent by the contractor for work performed was received by Tahan, who, in turn, forwarded it to Spill Center to review. Invoice auditing is a service that many subscribers request, especially for high-cost cleanup projects. The auditing service evaluates all charges from contractors, emergency responders and other service providers to determine that they are reasonable and in order. The contractor's invoice was audited by senior compliance associate Tracie Murphy.

“During my telephone conversations with the contractor, we discussed several of the invoiced charges, and he offered to reduce the total amount by 2%,” Murphy says. “He also reduced the hourly charge for the roll-off truck which handled the contaminated soil at the site, and he reduced the charge for Level C personal-protection gear. Plus, he deleted charges for a chemical hose, photography, and an administration fee.”

The total reduction of the invoiced amount came to more than $1,700, and a credit memo was issued by the contractor to the carrier.

Limiting liability

Moses originally started the Spill Center as an insurance-claims resource.

Companies underwriting commercial trucks in the 1980s were looking to have a solid system to control costs and limit liability, and Moses' firm allowed insurance adjusters to get a cleanup contractor onto the scene in a short period of time so that the contamination wouldn't spread and they wouldn't be liable for more covered claims or covered losses than absolutely possible.

When the trucking industry saw that the insurance industry was saving money on cleanups, companies began asking the firm to work for them directly.

“Trucking companies had additional things working against them that insurance companies didn't have — in addition to paying for actual cleanup costs, the trucking companies had to pay fines and penalties for simply having the release and failing to report the release,” says Moses, an environmental attorney and former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) toxicologist. “Insurance companies never pay fines and penalties arising from spills. That's against public policy. If you could buy an insurance policy that would pay all your speeding tickets, what would stop you from speeding?

“So trucking companies came to the Spill Center, one by one, saying, ‘Our biggest problem is reporting spills.’ We were maintaining a database of over 3000 for-hire cleanup contractors. We simply made the database for spill-reporting requirements available to the industry as well.”

With an increase in enforcement in the past decade, the Spill Center — based in Hudson, Massachusetts — is busier than ever.

The expertise includes environmental/safety regulatory compliance, emergency spill response management, and claims resolution, negotiation and settlement. The program is designed to help subscribers control costs and limit liability arising from accidental releases of hazardous materials, diesel fuel, and other regulated materials. Benefits include:

  • Advanced Hazmat Security and integrated communications, combining satellite tracking technology, wireless communications, online access and specialized databases. Real-time monitoring of hazmat shipments provides improved security of hazardous materials and rapid response to incidents. Included is Aries Messenger, proprietary software/hardware interface that enables any asset tracking system to send faxes, pages, e-mail and text messages to customized distribution/notification lists and company databases. Asset tracking data and alerts are delivered to key personnel automatically, eliminating the need for personnel to constantly “watch the screen.”

  • A customized Spill Contingency Plan tailored to a company's needs, with detailed spill-handling and reporting instructions for properly handling accidental spills, even at night, on weekends and on holidays, anywhere in North America.

  • A trained compliance associates staff, with a Spill Hotline 24/7 to provide expert guidance, activate a contingency plan in the event of a spill, and take steps to initiate site cleanup and remediation. The staff includes legal, technical, and environmental specialists.

  • Continuously updated listings of over 3000 qualified cleanup contractors and waste disposal companies throughout North America are maintained in an online database for 24/7 access. Contractor capabilities and insurance coverages are also on file.

  • All required reports, written and telephonic, are handled to ensure that the customer stays in compliance with regulatory requirements and avoids penalties for failure to report to the proper authorities. Current local, state, and federal reporting requirements are maintained in a database to quickly determine which reports must be completed following spills and when.

  • Thorough documentation of all reporting and remediation activities performed on behalf of subscribers to limit environmental liability and establish legal defense against any third-party claims that may arise from spills.