Tag Archives: HAZWOPER

HAZWOPER Field Training Day 3

For the third and final day of HAZWOPER training, we started the day with Dick Walker himself, on a trip down memory lane. On the conference room table he’s laid out an odd assortment of glass bottles sealed with tape, wrappers, matches, connectors and tanks.  To most people it looks like a trash heap, but Dick and team used to do a lot of these types of HAZMAT clean-ups, several a week, in fact. Methamphetamine Labs.

Liz looks on at the table Dick has set.

Turns out a host of highly flammable solvents, gases, acids, bases and oxidizers are used in the process of making meth, and this kept the Department of Ecology folks busy (too busy) from about 1980-2000. “In houses, trailers, hotel rooms, they were everywhere,” recalls Dick, “sometimes were were still processing a scene and they would come back.” With cold medication behind the counter in the early 2000s, the meth cleanup has all but stopped.

Which means spill response and cleanup can focus on places like our next stop, Fisherman’s Terminal. After several days of reported sheens, no sheens today. We check out two abandoned vessels towed from the north, purged of fuel, and moored at the Terminal, “it’s a lot easier to deal with these before they sink,” notes Dave.

Liz and Chad check out the Des Moines Marina. “That’s just scum,” Chad assures us, “a natural collection point.”

On the way down south to check out a previous cleanup site, we turn around to respond to a diesel spill in Elliott Bay Marina. When we arrive, oil-absorbent boom and pads have already been deployed and have picked up some product (which appears on the material as a pinkish stain). “It’s all about a quick response,” advises Dave. If and when the next large-scale oil spill occurs, we’re now prepared to mount that quick response.

HAZWOPER Field Training Day 2

Back at it again, Liz and Jane take on Geographic Response Plans (GRPs) on day two of Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) on-the-job training with Laura and David, from Washington Department of Ecology’s Spill Response Team.

Where is the pipeline? Underground. These signs warn: no digging!

This time, we’re not heading out in the truck to investigate and incident/call/emergency, we’re laying the groundwork (paperwork, actually) in preparation for potential incident(s) involving waterways near the Olympic Pipeline. Owned by British Petroleum (BP), the Olympic Pipeline is the largest petroleum products pipeline in the Pacific Northwest which connects refineries in Skagit County to 23 terminals in Western Washington and Northern Oregon.

Our first stop – a wide stretch of the Sammamish. Wetlands toward the north, waterfowl. A boat is definitely required to deploy boom.

First stop: the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s boat launch on the west end of the Sammamish River. Laura and David consult the current GRP – which natural resources are in the area? boat needed? staging area large enough for several vehicles and trailers? what speed is the river flowing? is boom requested – the floating oil absorbent pads used to direct and contain oil – adequate? are there access considerations? could private property nearby be affected? All of these considerations (and more!) are detailed at each site.

David and Laura weigh in on the Sammamish River site.

Like COASST beaches, no site is the same – some have steep banks covered in blackberries, some are known native steelhead habitat (Liz spots some dragonfly larvae under a rock here, at May Creek), some are under freeways, some in the middle of neighborhoods, surrounded by private land. At the end of the day we get to thinking about how COASSTers might be able to contribute to marine GRPs in the State’s effort to document beaches, access points, and natural resources along the coast and greater Puget Sound. Stay tuned!

No stream or beach is ever the same (left to right: May Creek, Coal Creek x 2)

HAZWOPER Field Training Day 1

This week, Liz and Jane are teaming up Horward Zorzi and Dick Walter’s Spill Response Team at the Department of Ecology – Northwest Regional Office for some on-the-job field experience to fulfill all requirements of their 40-hour Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) certification course.

No, it isn’t part of some new regulation to work with dead birds! This work is funded through a grant from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Department of Ecology, Department of Natural Resources and the Puget Sound Partnership to increase community preparedness and response during large oil spills in northern Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the San Juan Islands. Lots of COASSTers (about 200!) survey and live near these beaches. These are “their” beaches, and come fall, COASSTers will have a chance to receive some extra training (known as the 8-hour HAZWOPER) to assist state and federal agencies in spill response and damage assessment.

But back to the fun stuff. Tuesday we barely arrived at the office before an anonymous call came in about an abandoned barrel on Vashon Island marked “xylene.” Grabbing the proper protective equipment (steel-toed boots required!), we jumped into the response truck with Chad and Dave.

The Department of Ecology Spill Response Team official vehicle: protecting our freshwater and marine waterways.

After a short ferry ride, we arrived at the scene. The barrel is on private property, not the county/city road, so after a quick call to the regional office and then the property owner, we got clearance to proceed. Time to fill out a Hazard Assessment Worksheet (HAW)! Chad and Dave’s gameplan: suit up, test vapors – is barrel intact? If yes, right barrel, test substance inside.

MultiRae sensor does not detect vapors – barrel and cap are intact.

After the barrel is upright, Dave goes in with a huge wrench and a pipette, and brings back a viscous tawny-colored liquid. Pull out the mobile chemistry lab! Dave tests for the presence of oil (it’s mostly oil), water (a little), Ph (about 7), and reactivity (almost none).

Dave and the mobile chemistry lab (right, in the orange toolbox-like container).

The final test? Flamability. “It’s my favorite,” says Dave, priming and adjusting the propane torch, and holding the glass test tube just the right the distance away.

Flammability? Well, sort of…

The verdict? Not xylene. Not even close. Too viscous, not very flammable, and some black smoke appeared after a good amount of heat. “It’s cooking oil,” says Dave, “call the owners, let them know where to dispose of this, and let’s get those paint pens to re-mark this barrel.” Time to call the regional office again and let them know we’re safe and on our way back. Case closed for Chad, Dave, Liz and Jane.

Upcoming HAZWOPER Training

Are you interested in in helping respond to oiled wildlife during an oil spill? If so, check out this upcoming free HAZWOPER training offered by Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife. Full details can be found at http://wdfw.wa.gov/about/volunteer/events/.

Event Name: 8-Hour Hazwoper Class – Everett 2013
Event Description:

This class is intended for citizen volunteers who are interested in helping respond to oiled wildlife during an oil spill. This is not an animal handling or care class.  The primary focus of this class is your safety as a responder.  Personal safety training will be required to participate in spill response activities associated with wildlife.  This class will satisfy the personal safety training requirement. A valid 8-hour HAZWOPER (Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response 29 CFR 1910.120) certificate will allow you to work directly with oiled wildlife. This class will satisfy the annual HAZWOPER renewal requirement if you have previously completed a HAZWOPER course and need a refresher.

Event Start Date/Time: Sat, Mar 2, 2013 8:00 AM
Event End Date/Time: Sat, Mar 2, 2013 5:00 PM
Event Meeting
Everett Community College2000 Tower St, Everett View Location Map
Event Organizer: Andy Carlson
(p) 360-902-8125
Event Category:
Oiled Wildlife Response – Oil Spill