Outside of the well-publicized oil spills like the Exxon Valdez and the BP spill in the Gulf Coast in 2010, oil spills can occur in small environments such as in a workplace, or as part of a larger incident like a train derailment or big rig accident in which oil was part of the cargo. When a spill occurs that involves oil or another toxic chemical, there may be long-term evidence that shows how it can affect your body, the environment, and the outlying areas from where the spill occurred. Hazardous spills can come in the form of acid, oil or gasoline and many other elements that prove to be dangerous.
Many spills involving a toxic chemical require the aid of a hazardous material crew to handle the clean up. In some homeowner community associations there are guidelines as to what constitutes a spill big enough to call in the authorities, and other locations like gas stations require professional clean up and / or reporting of the spill. When a hazmat crew is called, here are some of the elements that they may encounter on the scene:
- Exposure to high temperatures
- Continual spillage (a spill that is not easily stopped, as in the BP spill)
- Contamination to clothing and other surrounding items
The clothing worn by hazmat officials is their primary defense against the spread of toxic contamination. But not everyone is so lucky. A chemical spill can affect ground, buildings, air, and those within the vicinity of the event. Spills can leave long-lasting effects that take days or years to resolve. Remember BP and how the problem was so extreme that it has subsequently caused the end of some already endangered species, not to mention the damage and destruction of its tragic aftermath with the environment, lost lives and an already burdened economy.
What should you do if you are on a roadway or travelling in an area where a chemical spill has occurred? Your best bet is to clearly stay away from that area. In extreme situations, however, staying away might not be enough. Here are some other things you can do to protect yourself:
- Try to get of the road and into an area where you can seal off any exposure to the chemicals and the damaging vapors.
- Turn off any ventilation systems and avoid areas where the gas or other chemicals have the probability of seeping through the ducts.
- Stay tuned via your cell phone or radio for reports that specifically address the emergency in that area.
- Do not stay outside. If you are in your car, find a place where you can take shelter.
- Pay attention to authorities whose aim and goal it is to instruct people to better and less threatening conditions.
If you have been injured as a result of an oil spill, whether directly or indirectly due to an accident on a train or on a roadway, and you feel the accident would not have occurred if it were not for the spill, you will want to seek professional counsel for your case. Oil spills involve multiple entities, from a national level to a more local level, and can best be resolved with a professional law firm on your side.