HAZARDOUS MATERIALS SPILLS are an inevitable part of most work environments. To effectively combat spills, it is necessary to prepare for them beforehand. Whenever employees work with a substance, they should be aware of its characteristics, and should have formulated plans of what to do in case of a spill, including what steps to take, who to call for assistance, what personal protective equipment is necessary, and what material is appropriate contend with a spill, and where to find appropriate spill-response equipment. The chemical spill response capability available from EH&S and Radiation Safety (RS) does not lessen the responsibility of work groups to prepare plans to deal safely with small spills. Departments are encouraged to have spill response kits at strategic locations.

GENERAL GUIDELINES The first step in dealing with any chemical spill is to assess the magnitude of spilled material and the associated level of hazard. No one should attempt to deal with a spill until properly equipped with adequate personal protective equipment and spill treatment materials. Risk assessment is successful only if personnel are familiar with the hazardous properties of the material they are handling and have developed methods to follow in the event of a spill. Information of this type is available from material safety data sheets and from EH&S. EH&S and RS have the responsibilities to respond to chemical and radioactive materials spills, respectively, and to oversee cleanup activities. These groups also have the authority to ensure that appropriate cleanup steps are taken in accordance with applicable environmental regulations. EH&S maintains a chemical spill response vehicle which is equipped to handle typical chemical spills.

REPORTING EH&S can be contacted for assistance in dealing with a chemical spill by calling 7-4038, or by contacting Public Safety/Security Services at 7-3010. RS can be contacted for help with radioactive materials spills at 7-2227. The Oregon DEQ has established regulations requiring OSU to submit reports for chemical spills over certain specified amounts. All large spills of a hazardous chemical (more than 1 gallon liquid or 1 pound solid) must be reported promptly to EH&S, who will make the report to DEQ if necessary. Reporting smaller spills is not required, but encouraged; EHS will respond appropriately to reports of any size spill. Radioactive material spills should be reported

MERCURY EH&S response capabilities includes a vacuum designed for cleaning up mercury spills. To aid that effort, do not spread other chemicals or absorbent materials on mercury spills. Doing so will make it more difficult to clean up the mercury and increase the disposal cost of contaminated debris.

PROCEDURES If the risk assessment suggests you can safely and properly clean up the spill (if not, call EH&S):

  1. Get personal protective equipment (PPE). Do not attempt spill response until you have put on PPE appropriate for the situation. Available equipment may include respiratory protection, goggles, gloves, impervious shoes/boots, and body protection. All equipment will not be necessary for every situation, but should be available. If you are unsure about your ability to control a spill, get assistance. Any spill for which respiratory protection is needed must not be conducted without backup personnel equipped in the same manner. This level of spill should be left to EH&S.
  2. Get spill control equipment from your department's spill kit. Spill control materials are sold in two general forms: loose materials (vermiculite, cat litter) and spill control pillows, which are produced in various shapes and contain different types of absorbents. Spill control pillows are preferred because they are much easier to pick up when finished. Also available are materials designed for specific types of chemical spills such as acids or solvents. In general, spilled liquids present more danger than solids, and quick response is therefore critical. For flammable liquids, special attention should be paid to potential ignition sources in the vicinity.
  3. Absorb the spill. If there is danger the spill may spread, dike the perimeter with absorbent, then absorb. "Floor chemistry" should not be attempted. If you desire to perform simple neutralization/treatment schemes, first absorb and contain the material.
  4. Collect the contaminated absorbent and put into an sturdy leak proof container. Close the container if there are volatile substances which may continue to pose a threat.
  5. Dispose of the contaminated absorbent in the same manner you would dispose of the substance that was spilled. If the spilled chemical is hazardous, do not put the cleanup residue in the dumpster. If hazardous, contact EH&S to dispose.


In situations which require emergency medical treatment, call 911 to reach the Corvallis Emergency Response Dispatch. Public Safety/Security Services will also be notified.