by MATTHEW NASHSequim Gazette
Two paint canisters believed to be hazardous material were found at noon on Monday, Feb. 14, under the U.S. Highway 101 overpass on Simdars Road.
Clallam County Fire District 3 and the Washington State Patrol reported the potential threat of cans wrapped in plastic grocery sacks.
The Department of Ecology in Olympia was called in to handle the canisters.
Kim Schmanke, communications manager for the Department of Ecology Southwest region, said the cans will be tested, and based on the contents, be disposed of properly.
When testing occurs depends on spill responders’ work load.
“They achieved the major priority: removing an unknown hazard from an unsafe location,” Schmanke said.
“Now that the cans are safely stored, they’ll be assessed when staff have a free moment to do so. In the meantime, they have to prioritize their work based on the calls that come in and other unmitigated risks we need to address.”
District 3 fire chief Steve Vogel said hazardous material spills are the responsibility of Washington State Patrol, and if the fire department were to pick up material, they would have to dispose of it, which can be expensive.
“We try not to take any ownership of any hazardous material,” Vogel said.
“We’ll go out and identify it. If it’s not critical, then we’ll isolate the area, evaluate what the product is, and then have Department of Ecology or Washington State Patrol handle it. Then Department of Ecology will dispose of it. It’s our responsibility to protect property, but beyond that point, it’s (the responsibility of) Department of Ecology.”
Washington State Trooper Krista Hedstrom, public information officer, said typical hazardous materials/spills procedure for troopers is to set up an area of containment if necessary and call the nearest fire department and the Department of Ecology for disposal or clean-up, which depends on the material they encounter.
“Throughout most of the state, Washington State Patrol responds to any hazardous material call,” Hedstrom said.
“We are the designated agency to respond and coordinate clean-up between fire departments and Department of Ecology.”
According to the Revised Code of Washington, the State Patrol is designated as the incident command agency in any hazardous materials incident on or along any state route or interstate freeway corridors, as well as within any jurisdiction that has not designated an incident command agency. The code also directs the State Patrol to provide assistance at the scene of hazardous materials incidents where a separate agency is designated as the incident command agency.
Vogel recommends citizens hold onto their possibly hazardous chemicals for disposal with the City of
Sequim, which has yet to set a date for its annual hazardous chemicals dump in April at the City of Sequim shop, 169 W. Hemlock St.
Schmanke said people who see containers dumped along the roadside have a couple of options: call 9-1-1 if the materials could cause an accident or emergency; otherwise call Department of Ecology’s spills hotline at 800-OILS-911 (200-258-5990).