Chapter 5: Chemical Spill Procedures


In the event of a chemical spill, the individual(s) who caused or was most closely associated with the spill bear primary responsibility for spill control. Those individuals are expected to report to On-Scene Emergency First Responders to assist with response and recovery efforts and remain until released (If necessary).


  1. Immediately alert the area supervisor and other occupants of the area of potential risk.
  2. Use Personal Protective Equipment, following specific procedures for use of Personal Protective Equipment.
    1. Example: Never enter a contaminated space (atmosphere) without protection, i.e., the use of a respirator. The use of a respirator or self-container breathing apparatus requires specialized training. If respiratory protection is necessary and no trained employees are available, contact UMW PD immediately.
  3. If the situation is potentially volatile/flammable, evacuate the area of potential risk immediately, ventilate the space, and attempt to suppress or control the potential ignition source.
  4. Protect floor drains or other potential avenues of environmental release as much as possible. Spill socks and absorbent materials may be placed around drains as needed.
  5. Determine the extent of the spill and clean up as follows:
    1. Small Spill: Up to 300 cc’s; respond with chemical treatment or absorption with a neutralization or absorption kit.
    2. Medium Spill: 300 cc’s to 5 liters; respond with absorption using an absorption spill kit.
    3. Large Spill: More than 5 liters; call UMW PD and OEMS immediately.
  6. Absorption technique should be to distribute loose spill control materials over the entire spill area, working from the outside, circling to the inside. This reduces the chance of splash or escape of the spilled chemical beyond the present boundary perimeter.
    1. NOTE – Bulk absorbents and many spill pillows do not work with hydrofluoric acid. POWERABSORB (by 3M) products or their commercial equivalent will handle hydrofluoric acid. Acid neutralizers typically have a color change indicator which shows when acids have been neutralized.
  7. When spilled materials have been absorbed, use a brush and scoop to place materials in an appropriate container. Polyethylene bags may be used for small spills. 5-gallon buckets or 20-gallon drums with polyethylene liners may be appropriate for larger quantities of saturated absorbent materials.
  8. Once all the material and spill residue has been placed in an appropriate container a hazardous waste sticker or label must be completed identifying the material as “Spill Debris” involving the specific chemical and affixed to the container.
  9. Decontaminate the surface where the spill occurred using mild detergent and water, when appropriate.
  10. Report any hazardous chemical spill to OEMS for follow-up and review.



Departments Heads are responsible for developing department-specific spill response plans.


  1. SDS Sheet Review – Review all SDS Sheets for hazardous chemicals used or stored in the department area.
  2. PPE Considerations – Analyze the potential need for Personal Protective Equipment based on the SDS Sheet Review, and insure that the equipment is available in the department area, is in good condition, and an appropriate number of employees are trained in its use.
  3. Availability of Spill Kits – Acquire sufficient quantities and types of spill control materials to contain spills that may occur. Procurement of the necessary dispersal equipment, such as brushes, scoops, sealable containers, etc.
  4. Location of Spill Kits/Equipment: Find, identify, and notify all employees in the area of the locations of spill kits.
  5. Develop a Written Plan: A written plan should be created, discussed, and distributed to all employees, and posted in the area where the spill kits and dispersal equipment is located. Information contained in the written plan must include:
    1. Names and telephone numbers of individuals to be contacted in the event of a hazardous chemical spill.
    2. Evacuation Plans for the room or building, as appropriate.
    3. Specific instructions for containing spills as provided above.
    4. An inventory of spill control materials and Personal Protective Equipment available in the department, including its location.
    5. Proper means of disposal of clean-up materials, including contaminated tools and clothing.


The materials/equipment are intended to be modified as necessary to meet specific department deeds.

  1. Personal Protective Equipment:
    1. 2 pairs of chemical splash goggles
    2. 2 pairs of 4 H or Silver Shield gloves
    3. 2 pairs of shoe covers
    4. 2 plastic or Tyvek aprons and/or Tyvek suits
  2. Absorption Materials:
    1. 4 3M POWERABSORB spill pillows (or equivalent)
    2. 1 3M POWERABSORB spill sock
    3. 2 DOT pails (5 gallon) with polyethylene liners (1 filled with loose absorbent like vermiculite or clay) and I with a minimum amount of loose absorbent on its bottom.
  3. Neutralizing Materials:
    1. Acid Neutralizer
    2. Caustic Neutralizer commercial Neutralizers such as Neutrasorb (acids) and Neutracit 2 (bases) with built-in color change indicators
    3. Solvent Neutralizer (commercial solvent neutralizers, such as Solusorb, act to reduce vapors and raise the flashpoint of mixtures which are susceptible to volatility or flammability.
  4. Mercury Spills:
    1. Small mercury vacuum to pick up large drops
    2. Hg Absorb Sponges-amalgamates mercury residue
    3. Hg Absorb Powder-amalgamates mercury
    4. Hg Vapor Absorbent-reduces concentration of vapor in hard to reach places
    5. Mercury Indicator-powder which identifies the presence of Mercury
  5. Clean-Up Tools:
    1. Polypropylene scoop or dustpan
    2. Broom or brush with polypropylene bristles
    3. 2 polypropylene bags
    4. Sealing tape
    5. pH test papers
    6. chemical waste stickers or labels
    7. Floor signs indicating “Danger-Chemical Spill-Keep Away”
  6. Spill Kit Locations:
    1. Jepson Science Center (back loading dock and Autoclave Room)
    2. HVAC Shop
    3. Automotive Shop
    4. Russell Hall Storage (safety storage)
    5. Dupont Hall (outside near chillers)
    6. Willard Hall Mechanical Room