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You must read this to understand. Please let me know what your thoughts are regarding this situation. (See the picture)

Here is the link :
http://mountvernonnews.com/local/08/07/08/barrel_river.html

What would you do different?

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Wow, unbelievable, when are we going to learn?
The picture is a killer, 2 individuals handling a container that has an unknown substance in it. No protective gear at all, not even gloves. What’s next the taste test? Because it’s unbelievable that they know it’s an “unknown clear, sticky liquid” that was not leaking from the container (who opened the container). And the comments of the Orphan Drum Coordinator of the EPA, is this a government operation or what, keep the drum and I’ll get around to checking it out. Nice and easy to say since you weren’t exposed to it.
I could go on and on, the fact of the matter is when are we going to learn that once your exposed you can’t be un-exposed. I would rather run the gauntlet of precautions and find out its corn syrup, than find out it’s a hazardous toxin that puts one of our brother firefighters in the ground and on the wall at Emmitsburg.
There are a number of ways that this could have been handled and I don’t think that this was one of them.
DON’T be the next one, BE safe!
Respectfully,
Richard
Bro! Thank you for the reply! I am glad to hear you say that you would do everything to find out is was nothing. Education is the key and I know with people like you we can accomplish this. Remember be SAFE & TRAIN as training will save lives. Todd McKee
I don't know much, I am an EMT but I am in the fire academy right now, wow is all i have to say, after reading that article you would think, that the agency's were just passing this barrel off to one another like they were saying it's not my problem well deal with it later, If it were me, I would have gotten on the phone and had someone from the proper agency come out right away, that one guy said in his 20 years there, they had never had a drum filled with something toxic, so, what if this was the first, I would treat that barrel like whatever was inside it could kill me and everyone else around, better to be safe than sorry, where is the PPE here? do they have a death wish? and how do they know what the stuff inside looks like if it is not leaking? sounds like a bunch of stupidity to me, I would be in a hazmat suit with the proper governmental agency on the phone, telling them they need to come get that barrel right now, but then again, I really don't know anything yet, I just started my training at the fire academy, but this would seem the common sense way to handle it, I wouldnt touch that thing with a 10 foot pole, lol, I don't know where I would put it, or how I would get it there, but I certainly wouldn' put it in the fire station with 2 guys kneeling down next to it, (shakes head from side to side) shocked and disappointed, thats all I have to say.
I 'm with you brother!
This is nuts!!! It's not leaking but we know it's a clear sticky liquid which means someone opened it and touched it. Now that person is exposed, depending on what it is, he or she could have exposed everyone in the room and that person's whole family, the people's family that were in that room, and everyone those people come in contact with. We could have a whole community exposed here because of stupidity.
Not only that we have a group of officals who don't seem to give a crap. Oh it's just a barrel with some unidentified substance in it, that was in a river, that's been opened, could be contaminating a fire station, may have already contaminated a large group of people, ohhh and a water supply where people fish meaning the likelyhood the fish are contaminated is raised, which just adds to the fact that more people have been exposed. We will get around to it sometime in the next decade. Meanwhile we have a community whose cancer rates, heart problems, ect are on the rise because of someone's inability to act in the apporiate manner.
This is the rare instance where a hazmat team responds to an unknown substance. Judging from the article it would seem there was some pressure to determine the substance within the container. Some simple field screening could at least classify the substance and give the team some information as to containment and proper disposal. Generally these calls end up being some sort of hydrocarbon product however we have discovered some very strong acids, drug lab precursors, and some potent pesticides. Pesticides and meth labs are rather prominent in my state due to the agriculture industry.

From experience: We would have tried to classify or identify the product using field screening, monitoring, and IR equipment (FTIR and Raman) if the product could be placed in a haz-waste dump we would then over pack in a salvage drum and made arrangements with local agencies to transport to dump site.

We usually don’t involve the EPA in our hazmat issues however; in this instance, concerning waterways, I would have at least let them along with our state health and environment folks know. A good thing about the EPA involvement here is; the EPA has an orphan drum program that can assist local government with cost recovery and disposal of the hazmat. Another issue with waterways is; if it is a navigable waterway the Cost Guard may have to be notified.

Overall I do not like how the entire situation was handled by the many agencies involved, in particular do not like the picture of the two firefighters just a few inches from the container completely unprotected and I am taking from granted that it is still an unknown. I spent many months traveling across my state training Law Enforcement and highway workers about the dangers of discarded methlabs after several were injured investigating unknown containers. Many agriculture chemicals can be used to produce a chemical weapon and have been found in unlabeled orphan drums. I think that there are several people in this article that need some awareness training.

The veteran wildlife Officer needs some education in health and safety i.e. acute vs Chronic.

Anyway how did they determine that the product was sticky?
We run into many dumped vessels both in water and on land - most of the time they come from xtc labs

- use chemical resistant gloves (and determine if you need BA and a chemsuit)
- approach the vessel from upwind (if possible)
- observe the area around the vessel: anything abnormal?
- observe the vessel - is the lid closed -does it seem to have cracks? Any signs / labels?
( - if possible: have pictures taken of the situation)
- If it is in the water: can it be turned using the long distance aid - to check the other side
- measure with PID, the available tox meters and pH paper
- have the city environmental officer warned (or the drugs squad if it seems to be a drugs related dump) and proceed in accordance with him/her, which will mostly result in the following:

- if it is intact, take it out - can the contents be identified through the container wall with the First Defender?
- if it can not be identified through the wall, put it in a Hazmat Vessel and have it transported to the city chemical waste site (or elsewhere, if the city environmental officer wants that)
- however: if it seems to be drugs related, secure the vessel and leave the situation as undisturbed as possible as not to destroy any evidence: ask the drugs squad to come down and take over

- if it is leaking, judge the necessity to put on a chemsuit before taking it out
- in that case, also warn the water manager so that necessary actions to protect the environment can be taken

- never accept to take the vessel with you to the station - or "only" transport it in your truck- even when the vessel is still intact! Fire stations are no official dump sites and if the stuff has not been identified, you do not know what danger you have taken in.

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