Hazardous Spill Reporting and Response Procedures

Refer to the ACC Hazardous Materials Flow Chart before taking any action to report or clean up a spill.

Reporting Large Spills

These procedures are for chemical spills larger than 1 liter, chemicals that have a hazard rating of 2 or above, and for spills of an unknown chemical:

  1. Evacuate the immediate area, closing doors to area where spill has occurred. Restrict access to area.
  2. Call 911.
  3. Provide the following information:
    • Identity of the chemical spilled
    • Quantity spilled
    • Exact location
    • Information on hazard ratings (look for NFPA / HMIS labels on containers or MSDS)
    • Any injuries or chemical exposure

ACC Police will immediately contact the Safety and Environmental Management Office. The Safety and Environmental Management Office will make assessment and contact the local fire department if required. Obtain a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) and provide a copy to the responding party and the Safety and Environmental Management Office. If qualified, initiate recommended spill containment and other procedures that may be safely and reasonable done. If the Safety and Environmental Management Office determines the hazardous material can be cleaned up by ACC personnel, its staff will provide guidance on all aspects of cleanup, including personal protective equipment and proper disposal of any associated waste.

Handling Small-scale Chemical Spills

If a hazardous material spill is less than 1 liter and has a hazard rating below 2 in all hazard categories, follow these procedures:

  • Instructional labs that contain any type of chemical should have a chemical spill kit available to deal with small spills.
  • Laboratory supervisors must handle small-scale chemical spills in their lab.
  • A small-scale spill is generally considered to be one liter or less and have a hazard rating of less than 2 in all categories.

When a small scale chemical spill occurs:

  1. Restrict access to area.
  2. Immediately notify the lab supervisor and others in the area of the spill.
  3. Mark the area to prevent others from coming in contact with the spilled material. Depending on what type of chemical is spilled, in may be necessary to evacuate the lab until the material is effectively cleaned up.
  4. During business hours, always immediately contact the Safety and Environmental Management Office and notify them that a small-scale spill has occurred.
    • Name of chemical
    • Quantity spilled
    • Location of spill

Obtain an MSDS for material. Refer to the chemical’s MSDS for spill cleanup instructions. It is required that an MSDS be kept available for each chemical used in the lab for this purpose.Generally, section six or seven of the MSDS will address cleanup procedures, while section eight will indicate appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for dealing with a spill. The MSDS section numbering may differ slightly depending on the manufacturer or distributor of each particular chemical.

  • MSDS Section on Precautions for safe handling and use.
  • Use recommended Personal Protective Equipment.
  • Follow other precautions listed in MSDS.

After business hours, call 911. ACC Police will contact the Safety and Environmental Management Office.

Simple Acid and Base Spills

Simple acid and base spills should be neutralized with an appropriate neutralizing agent.

  • For acid spills (hydrochloric or sulfuric acid): Sodium bicarbonate, sodium sesqicarbonate or other derivatives are acceptable.
  • For basic spills (sodium or potassium hydroxide): Citric acid would be a suitable neutralizing agent.

General Procedures

  1. Allow the spill time to neutralize (e.g., wait until the bubbling reaction stops).
  2. When using a neutralizing spill kit, these kits are buffered and will not have a bubbling action. Use care not to over-neutralize.
  3. Test the pH of the spill after the neutralization reaction has stopped with pH paper. Once a pH of between 6 and 9 has been achieved, the material can be transferred into an appropriate secondary container for disposal.
  4. The container will then be marked with the “Hazardous Waste” label identifying what material was cleaned up. Contact the Safety and Environmental Management Office for assistance with labeling and for chemical waste pickup.

Note: Some acids cannot be neutralized and will require special procedures for spill clean-up. Some examples are chromic acid and hydrofluoric acid. Immediately contact the Safety and Environmental Management Office when a spill of this type occurs.

Solvent Spills (benzene, or methylene chloride etc.)

  1. Use an absorbent medium such as sand or vermiculite to absorb the spill and prevent runoff.
  2. Transfer the spilled material into an appropriate secondary container.
  3. Mark the container with the “Hazardous Waste” label and contact the Safety and Environmental Management Office for a chemical waste pickup.

Solid Material

  1. Most solid chemical spills can be swept up and transferred directly to a secondary container after the spill occurs.
  2. Mark the container with a “Hazardous Waste” label and contact the Safety and Environmental Management Office.

Mercury Spills

Mercury spills require special cleanup procedures:

  1. Use the special Mercury Spill Kit when dealing with mercury spills. Instructions for cleanup are located on the Mercury Spill Kit container.
  2. For broken mercury thermometers, clean up spilled mercury as described above and collect mercury and broken thermometer in a sealable plastic bag for disposal. Contact the Safety and Environmental Management Office.
  3. For mercury spills greater than one thermometer, call ACC Police at 512-223-7999.

Biohazard Spills

  • Bio-hazard spills have the potential of containing disease carrying organisms that can infect persons exposed to the spilled material, therefore it is critically important to handle biohazard spills appropriately when they happen.
  • Spills involving bodily fluids (i.e., blood, plasma, saliva, biological cultures, etc.) should immediately be decontaminated with bleach or other disinfectant solution approved to kill pathogenic disease causing organisms including HIV and hepatitis viruses.
  • If at all possible, have person generating fluids (their own) clean up any spill of bodily fluids.
  • Appropriate personal protective equipment should be worn during any biohazard spill cleanup, including splash goggles, rubber or nitrile gloves and rubber apron or lab coat to protect the responder from self-contamination.
  • Apply the disinfectant to the spilled material and leave for five to ten minute to allow the disinfectant to work.
  • After the material has had time to be totally disinfected, use an absorbent medium to soak up liquids.
  • The material should then be swept up and placed into an approved biohazard waste bag (red or orange with universal biohazard symbol on it.
  • Place waste bag in the appropriate biohazard waste container for disposal.
  • All bio-hazard waste not containing a cut/puncture hazard is to be considered regular bio-hazard wastes. This would include any type of blood or serum products, tissues, absorbent papers with biological contamination etc. These materials should be wrapped securely and then placed in an approved biohazard bag (orange or red with the official biohazard symbol on it). This bag is then placed into the cardboard boxes provided by the current vendor for this type of waste.

Contact the Safety and Environmental Management Office with any questions about cleanup or waste labeling/disposal.

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