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21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

TRAFFIC INCIDENT MANAGEMENT IN HAZARDOUS MATERIALS SPILLS IN INCIDENT CLEARANCE

7.0 CLARIFICATION AND USE OF THE U.S. DOT EMERGENCY RESPONSE GUIDEBOOK (ERG)

The Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG) 7 was developed jointly by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Transport Canada, and the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation of Mexico (SCT) for use by fire fighters, police, and other emergency services personnel who may be the first to arrive at the scene of a transportation incident involving hazardous materials. The ERG was developed to 1) aid first responders in quickly identifying the specific or generic hazards of the material(s) involved in the incident, and 2) protect themselves as well as the general public during the initial response phase of the incident. For the purposes of the guidebook, the “initial response phase” is that period following arrival at the scene of an incident during which the presence and/or identification of hazardous materials is confirmed, protective actions and area requirement are initiated, and assistance of qualified personnel is requested. It is not intended to provide information on the physical or chemical properties of dangerous goods. The ERG incorporates dangerous goods lists from the most recent United Nations (UN) Recommendations as well as from other international and national regulations.

The ERG identifies small spills as those that involve quantities that are less than 200 liters for liquids and less than 300 kilograms for solids; and large spills than involve quantities that are greater than 200 liters and greater than 300 kilograms of solids. The guidebook then further subdivides an incident into daytime and nighttime situations.

Basics of the ERG

Information on how to use the ERG and other supporting information including definitions and emergency response telephone numbers can be found in the white pages of the ERG. Then, the Guidebook is divided into four color-coded sections: yellow, blue, orange and green.

The yellow-bordered pages index the list of dangerous goods in numerical order of 4-digit ID numbers. The user is provided with a corresponding guide number that references safety information in the orange section.

The blue-bordered pages are similar to the yellow section, but they provide an index list of hazardous materials in alphabetical order by name. Again, the user is provided with a corresponding guide number that references safety information in the orange section. The user is also provided with the UN number that corresponds with the name of the hazardous material.

The orange-bordered pages or orange guide is the most important section of the guidebook as this is where all the safety recommendations reside. The orange guide comprises a total of 62 individual guides, each providing safety recommendations and emergency response information to protect yourself and the public.

Recommendations include potential hazards, public safety, and emergency response actions.

The green-bordered pages recommend initial isolation or protective action distances for hazardous material spills that involve Toxic by Inhalation (TIH) material, chemical warfare agents, or produce TIH material when coming into contact with water. These distances differ based on whether the incident occurred during the day or at night. They also vary based on the size of the spill. In both the yellow-bordered and blue-bordered sections, an entry highlighted in green means an evacuation area needs to be established and the user should first refer to the green-bordered section.

Intended Use of the ERG

The ERG was developed to assist responders that may be first to arrive at the scene of a transportation incident involving hazardous materials. For non-transportation related hazardous materials incidents, emergency responders should seek additional information to assist with interpretation of chemical properties and spill dynamics. This information may be acquired by contacting the manufacturer of the product, or by consulting an outside source.

Clarification of Coverage

The ERG was developed to assist responders that may be first to arrive at the scene of a transportation incident involving hazardous materials. For non-transportation related hazardous materials incidents, emergency responders should seek additional information to assist with interpretation of chemical properties and spill dynamics. This information may be acquired by contacting the manufacturer of the product, or by consulting an outside source.

Companion Resources

Numerous references have been developed over the years to assist personnel responding to a hazardous materials spill. Many of these references present important information on strategies and techniques for hazardous materials spills and incident clearance. In addition, many references have been computerized to improve the mitigation time of responders. Potential references that may be used in conjunction with the ERG include:

  • Bureau of Explosives Emergency Action Guides
  • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Pocket Guidebook
  • Spill Response Compliance Manual
  • Police and Emergency Responders’ Hazardous Materials Pocket Response Guide
  • Field Guide to Tank Car Identification
  • The Merck Index, 14th Edition
  • CHRIS Manual (Chemical Hazards Response Information System)
  • RIDS (Response Information Datasheets)

Computerized References

 

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