Officials Reduce Chlorine Hazard After EIS Exercise Reveals Potential Danger to Ft. Lewis` Neighbors

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Courtesy of IHS

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The Challenge:

Recently, the LEPC used EIS to conduct an exercise involving an H20 treatment plant located near residential housing. Prior to the exercise, the plant used gaseous chlorine which it stored in 12 one-ton cylinders and two wells (150 LB bottles). However, much to the LEPC officials' dismay, the spill exercise showed how a plume could extend into the residential housing area and envelope a child care center located nearby. As a result, the commission formed an action team that was tasked with improving the situation, which they did by developing an improved warning and evacuation plan.

The Solution:

The action team determined that a replacement treatment process would be the most effective way of preventing injury to the population surrounding the water treatment plant. The facility then tested Sodium Hypochlorite using existing equipment. The test proved successful and the facility replaced all chlorine gas for drinking water treatment.

The Results:

'EIS gave us real-time access to the chemical information we needed to make an informed decision. It prompted us to test potential hazards and continues to allow us to monitor the data for effective chemical risk management,' Hodgeboom said. 'Without the components of an effective risk management program, we might not have been aware of the hazards presented by the use of Chlorine gas at the treatment plant.'

'When organizations employ effective pollution prevention programs, their risk of spills inevitably goes down,' David Hodgeboom, an Environmental Compliance Manager at the U.S. Army's Fort Lewis in Washington, told an audience of emergency managers attending EIS/97, the annual Users' Conference sponsored by Essential Technologies, Inc. (formerly EIS International Corp.) of Rockville, Maryland.

Hodgeboom further described Fort Lewis as a self-contained community with its own Local Emergency Planning Commission (LEPC) that covers 86,176 acres, with more than 4,500 buildings and a daytime population of greater than 25,000 people. The LEPC tracks 6,790 Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), including 36 mixtures totaling over 10,000 pounds, and nine hazardous chemicals. It uses EIS and an EPCRA database, as well as the ALOHA plume modeling software for preparing for and managing HAZMAT spills.

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