Handy procedure guide minimizes spill response problems

The Ventura Regional Sanitation District operates and maintains wastewater collection and treatment facilities for a number of agencies spanning Ventura County, California.

Aug 4th, 2003

Aug. 4, 2003 -- The Ventura Regional Sanitation District operates and maintains wastewater collection and treatment facilities for a number of agencies spanning Ventura County, California.

Because of the utility's dispersed and broad-based manpower, our field personnel need to be prepared to handle emergencies on their own and at the drop of a (hard) hat.

To help prepare employees to successfully handle a wide variety of events, VRSD has developed an easy reference spill response procedure. This procedure outlines the basic courses of action and priorities in the event of a sewage spill. The guide includes contact numbers, clean up procedures, parameters for posting warnings and taking samples, directions for reporting and record keeping requirements. A laminated copy of the guide is kept in each truck as well as in each Emergency Spill Kit.

Like most other such agencies VRSD has had some small spills to learn from. We've never had a major spill to contend with, but feel confident that employees are well-trained and prepared to handle whatever may come. For a copy of VRSD's Sewage Spill Procedure, e-mail shellyshellabarger@vrsd.com.

VENTURA REGIONAL & TRIUNFO SANITATION DISTRICTS
SEWAGE SPILL PROCEDURE

STEP 1: NOTIFICATION

Report the spill immediately to your supervisor. Your supervisor will immediately report the spill to the Environmental Health Department (EHD). If the spill enters state waterways, your supervisor will notify the State Office of Emergency Services (OES) and initiate the required sign posting and sampling (see below).

If your supervisor is unavailable, you must immediately report the spill to these agencies (see the numbers below).

Regulatory agency contacts during normal business hours:
EHD General..........................................(805) 654-2813
EHD FAX.............................................(805) 654-2480
OES....................................................(800) 852-7550

Regulatory agency after normal business hours:
EHD Cellular.........................................(805) 320-6244
EHD Pager.............................................(805) 655-9181
County Emergency Dispatch.....................................911
OES....................................................(800) 852-7550

STEP 2: CLEAN UP
DRY WEATHER CLEAN UP
1) Contain and divert the flow to the nearest sanitary sewer or into a vactor truck
2) After flow has been stopped and repairs made, rake or vacuum sewage solids
3) Flush affected area with clean water. The use of disinfectants is not recommended due to the toxicity to fish and wildlife.

WET WEATHER CLEAN UP
1) Follow the same procedure as above except step 3 may be omitted if storm water flow is high.

STEP 3. POSTING & SAMPLING
Spills that enter the waters of the State of California require posting and coliform testing. Your supervisor will coordinate the placement and removal of warning signs and direct coliform sampling. You should document the number of signs, locations placed, sample number, location and constituents sampled and document on the spill report. Requirements for sign postings, and guidelines for sign removal are outlined on the back.

WARNING SIGN POSTING REQUIREMENTS

(see table below)

REMOVE WARNING SIGNS & LIFT RESTRICTIONS WHEN:

1) The discharge is no longer occurring.
2) There has been a 72-hour period in which no discharge has occurred.
3) No sewage, sludge, grease, or other physical evidence of sewage discharge is visible.
4) The density of bacteria in water from each sample shall not exceed 1,000 total coliform bacteria per 100 milliliters, if the ratio of fecal/total coliform bacteria exceeds 0.1; or 10,000 total coliform bacteria per 100 milliliters, or 400 fecal coliform bacteria per 100 milliliters, or 104 enterococcus bacteria per 100 milliliters.

STEP 4: REPORTING

Your supervisor is responsible for making sure that the Proposition 65 form and Spill Report are completed and faxed to Environmental Services. (The information you will need to provide is listed on the back of this pamphlet under 'Key Information for your Spill Report.')

STEP 5. RECORD KEEPING

A copy of the proposition 65 form, spill report, photos, and coliform analytical results will be kept in a spill file at the District Office. It is important that your spill report be as complete and descriptive as possible.

KEY INFORMATION FOR YOUR SPILL REPORT:

• List the names and times of the regulatory agencies contacted.
• Describe how the spill occurred.
• How long did the spill occur?
• What is the size of the affected area?
• What steps were taken to stop the spill?
• What was done to clean up the affected area?
• What steps have been taken or planned to reduce, eliminate and prevent reoccurrence?
• How many warning signs were placed and their location of placement?
• How many samples were taken, sample location and constituents sampled?

Note - Take photos of the damage/obstruction of the collection system and the area affected the spill. Include any photos that help describe the event.

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