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The prime concern after a spill is for people in the immediate area. If the situation is life threatening, they must be evacuated.

Once people have been evacuated, the first step is to stop the leak or prevent further material reaching area. Often this is safely accomplished using gloves, boots, self contained breathing apparatus, gas masks, and coveralls.


The second step is to contain the spill and prevent it from reaching the sewer, stream bed or water course, or from sinking into the ground water.

Containment may require special equipment such as adsorbents, booms and other barriers, and neutralizing agents. Wildlife may need special attention.

Resist the temptation to turn on the fire hose and flush the spill away; this just spreads the clean-up problem around the neighbourhood and increases its cost.

If contaminated material does reach the sewer system, it is courteous to tell the Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) Manager that something is on its way.

Safety Data

An exact identification of the spilled material is required to safely contain and clean up the spill.

Every commercial product must, by law, have a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). This sheet contains basic information needed to deal with a spill. It is included with each product shipment. Each plant or warehouse also has them on file.

Spill control information is also contained in manuals provided by the government, manufacturers, and trade associations such as the Canadian Chemical Producers Association (CCPA).

Airbourne Contaminants

Vapour and gas emissions form airborne plumes. These plumes are carried by the wind. The plume disperses as it is carried by the wind such that contaminants eventually reach ground level is called the "point of impingement" of the plume. Evacuation of the impingement area may be necessary.

Get Help

The third step is to get help. Even minor spills can over tax the resources in a particular area. Too much help too soon is better than too little too late.

Immediate help can come from the Police, Fire Department, and sometimes from major product manufactures. The Ministry of the Environment must, by law, be informed of the spill.

With a modest investment in contingency planning, the special equipment that could be needed will have been already identified and located.


Spill control requiring high level government involvement is coodinated through the Canadian Transport Emergency Centre (CANUTEC). Support from manufacturers is coordinated through the Transportation Emergency Action Plan (TEAP).

Clean Up

The fourth step is clean up. This is coordinated with a licensed carrier or carriers. Spilled liquid can be pumped into containers for removal to a licensed liquid waste receiver. Contaminated soil will likewise need to be excavated and hauled away by a licensed carrier.

The information contained in this web site is intended for marketing purposes only. It is not all-inclusive, and does not fully describe the many and varied services that the company provides, nor does it completely describe the education, training, skills, or expertise of our staff.


Walters Forensic Engineering | 277 Wellington Street West, Suite 800 | Toronto, ON M5V 3H2
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