Friday, April 24, 2009

The Mat these days seems a lot less Haz than it used to.

"Breaking news. A HazMat spill in northwest Indianapolis. News Chopper is on the scene..." came the announcer's voice. I stopped with my belt halfway on my jeans and turned to the TeeWee. HazMat! Cool! I wonder what it is? Chlorine? Sulfuric acid?

The view from the chopper showed a parking lot with all the flashing lights and bunny suits of a full-blown Code 23-19 surrounding... a semi tractor with a leaky fuel tank? "...the truck has leaked over a hundred gallons of diesel fuel..."

I realize that kerosene isn't really all that good for you to drink and that it might cause a bit of contact dermatitis if you immersed yourself in it long enough, but from all the drama, you'd think there was a plume of VX drifting downwind from Dugway, not a puddle in a parking place.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Job justification an several fronts.

Gmac

reflectoscope said...

Gmac got it. Call me when a propane tanker is about four minutes from a good BLEVE, that'll give me time to make popcorn and get a good seat. (About two miles away, mind.)

Jim

Anonymous said...

Dam it up, move the truck, match, clean the dark patch, go home.

What do I do for the other 8 hours and 45min of the day?

Ok, sans match I could try the wet dry vac and suck it up first...that would be the wet dry vac with the fume -isolated motor, yes?

Then soap it up and then we're, done. Damn, Still 7 hours to go.

Noah D said...

Considering the actual hazmats that are sitting around Indy, diesel fuel is weak tea. Then again, they break into regular TV programming for thunderstorms, nowadays.

Vote For David said...

Aah, the good old days. . . raise your hand if you remember when we used to play with mercury on our bare hands . . .

. . . what were we talking about, again?

Roberta X said...

I Can Haz Mat?

(Captcha: Iredo. 'Strewth).

Anonymous said...

In the twin cities (MSP) area school, a (small) mercury thermometer was dropped and broken.

You should have seen the crews that they rolled for that one! Empty the school, bring in the fire departments, haz-mat teams, local PD. It was embarrassing to just see it on the TV.

That, too, should have been a 10-minute clean up job. I think the inmates *are* running the asylum.

Jon

Nathan Brindle said...

Vote For David beat me to it. Consider hand raised.

This is, after all, the world in which a little curly light bulb containing an infinitesimal amount of mercury is considered hazardous waste -- and the breakage of one cause for a full hazmat cleanup.

Yet the greenies would rather we used them instead of plain old tungsten incandescents...go figure.

Tam said...

Well, if you sucked on that tungsten filament for too long, it might increase your risk for certain forms of cancer slightly...

Brian Dale said...

{raises hand to vote for David on the Hg-in-the-hand thing}

Strike a match, Nonny? Nooooo; a hundred gallons of diesel is still worth a couple of hundred bucks. I'll take it. Let me bring a floor squeegee, a mop & bucket and some jerrycans...whoops; can't get proper jerrycans any more, either.

Hellwithit; burn it off.

Mikee said...

When a Hazmat Team has an opportunity to practice with a fairly inert material, they take it, so that when the sulfuric-toting truck does spring a leak they all know how to wear their respirators and keep their suits sealed.

A training opportunity is a training opportunity.

My favorite non-hazardous hazmat spill of all time: a wrecked liquid N2 truck. The plume of dense billowing white "smoke" 100 yards long, composed entirely of condensed water molecules from the air cooled by the leaking N2, made for great TV.

Tam said...

"When a Hazmat Team has an opportunity to practice with a fairly inert material, they take it, so that when the sulfuric-toting truck does spring a leak they all know how to wear their respirators and keep their suits sealed."

True. It was more the local news getting an opportunity to practice real panic that gave me the giggles.

Borepatch said...

Once on a business trip, I met some guys who were long haul Hazmat haulers (they were at a training class, and so we were able to hang out and, you know, drink). They started telling stories about Hazmat oopsies.

My favorite was the one about "oops, I forgot to change the Hazmat ID sign" - the diamond-shaped sign on the back of the truck with a 3 or 4 digit number. Each substance, it seems, has its own ID. The police have this list, which includes "what to do in the event of a spill"

For Sulphuric acid, for example you dilute with a fire hose (unless you have a boxcar of baking soda handy).

Well, it seems that one day, a driver dropped off his load of whatever Hazmat he was hauling, cleaned the tank right good, and loaded up his next load - shampoo concentrate. In the course of human events, Our Hero had an accident, and there was a spill. Officer Friendly looked in The Book, and ordered up the Volunteer Fire Dept to hose down the road, because Cletus had forgotten to take the Hazmat sign off his truck.

About a metric ton of bubbles right there.

I think this is somewhere in the Guinness Book of World Records under "Only shampoo where they recommend Lather, rinse, do NOT repeat" ....

D.W. Drang said...

Once upon a time the Army gifted us with these POS ammo haulers that had been purpose-built for the Shah of Iran, who, since he was exiled and all, wasn't going to need them, so they decided to show the love for MI by declaring them Just The Thing to haul tactical SIGINT systems in similar places. Like Korea. And Germany.

Leaked like sieves. Korea wasn't so bad, the ROKs were more concerned with staying (more-or-less) free and making money than with such niceties as clean water...

But in Colorado! Each track had to carry five 20mm ammo cans half full of kitty litter as drip pans; one of them had a major hemorrhage right outside the motor pool gate, they needed three dump trucks to haul away the dirt the EPA declared to be contaminated.

And then there are all the JP8 baths we got at tactical FARPs, refueling the choppers, or even just taking fuel samples...

Dr. StrangeGun said...

Reminds me of the time we got evacuated because a chem lab facility spilled about a half ounce of pure methyl mercaptan in a pressure vent hood.

Nothing toxic about it... we got evacuated for the day because 1/2oz of that stuff is enough to ensure that nobody in a 1.5 mile radius (and wind shift) will be able to tell if there's a *legitimate* gas leak.

Remember the big Farragut acid spill? *that* is what evac is for.

Anonymous said...

"When a Hazmat Team has an opportunity to practice with a fairly inert material, they take it, so that when the sulfuric-toting truck does spring a leak they all know how to wear their respirators and keep their suits sealed."

So practice with colored water.

By over-reacting time after time, they give the impression that everyone else should over-react. Spreading the insanity. Same thing has been working on guns.

And yeah; I and my siblings played with mercury in our hands. It's cool stuff. You can float a nickle on it. -- Lyle

Jeff said...

We had a 4 ton Ammonium Nitrate / diesel spill in town a few months back.

the pistolero said...

Sweet bleedin' Barnabus. These people would piss themselves if they knew what I used to spray on weeds when I helped my folks out with yard work way back when.

Cossack in a Kilt said...

NO ONE HAS GIVEN ROBERTA A "WINZ TH3 INTARW3BZ" YET?

Dang, you people have lost a step.

Then again, it looks like the Untied States of America have collectively jumped on their horse, charged off madly in all directions, "seen the light(worker)" and basically lost their minds.

We are a fundamentally unserious people, and I weep, because history tends to play funny, funny games with fundamentally unserious peoples. (Note: the games are only funny, funny to history.)

Tam said...

"NO ONE HAS GIVEN ROBERTA A "WINZ TH3 INTARW3BZ" YET?"

I did, right after I started crying because she thought of it first...

Cossack in a Kilt said...

My faith in ye, lassie, be restored.

FatWhiteMan said...

Whew! When you said HAZMAT spill I was afraid a truckload of primers had overturned.

roy in nipomo said...

I can remember when our volunteer fire department had a busy street totally closed for three hours because someone had dropped and spilled a gallon of swimming pool acid in the street. They went full-bore Haz-Mat on it (county, state and fed notifications, etc).