severe weather

Two Key Things to Know About Chemical Releases During Hurricane Season

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Two Key Things to Know About Chemical Releases During Hurricane Season

One of the most hazardous situations is mixing hurricane season and facility shutdowns. Since hurricanes can now be detected early enough before landfall, the EPA is not taking it easy on facilities that do not take extra precautions as storms come through.

Minimize Chemical Releases During Shutdown

The EPA recommends that facilities safely shut down processes by de-energizing or isolating process equipment, or continue to operate under emergency operations procedures. The Clean Air Act Section 112(r)(1) states that “owners/operators have a general duty to prevent accidental releases of certain listed substances and other extremely hazardous substances and to minimize the consequences of accidental releases which do occur.” (EPA.gov) This also includes facilities that are subject to national emissions standards for hazardous air pollutants.

 

Report Releases Immediately

Per the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act, owners and operators are to notify state emergency response commissions and local emergency planning committees when there has been a release of hazardous substances.  As part of the facilities risk management program, emergency contact numbers should be updated every year.  Consider the issue of cell phone or land line probability and plan accordingly.

All supervisors and facility personnel should review their operational events during shutdown, operating related to previous hazardous weather events in order to take make appropriate administrative, operational, and hardware or software safety precautions.

If you have questions about how to prepare your facility for a hurricane, call SRP to speak with one of our Environmental Consultants at (866) 222-4972.

Sources:
Environmental Compliance Alert, June 16, 2017
EPA: https://www.epa.gov/natural-disasters/hazardous-weather-release-prevention-and-reporting

6 Tips to Make Your Business Hurricane Ready

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Are You and Your Business Ready for the Next Hurricane?

June 1 marked the beginning of the 2017 Hurricane Season, and meteorologists anticipate it to be a busy season. In the Atlantic, an estimated 11 to 17 storms are predicted to be named, with five to nine storms becoming a hurricane, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

There are a few things you and your business should be aware of when it comes to preparing for this hurricane season, including two major changes to forecasting storms and six things your business should do to prepare for the storms.

Major Changes Expected for This Year

One of the new changes from NOAA that we may see is that advisories can now be issued for systems before they even form, and will be referred to as potential tropical cyclones.  The advisory will only be issued for systems that may develop hurricane force winds to land within 48 hours.

The second change includes the ability to issue storm surge watches and warnings along the US coastlines, which are similar to hurricane watches and warnings.

To put things in perspective, just because a hurricane is labeled Category 1 does not mean that you should dismiss the dangers associated with the hurricane. In 2016, Hurricane Matthew ranged from Category 1 to 5. By the time the storm reached the Carolinas, Hurricane Matthew was at Category 1 and 2. However, torrential rainfall, flash flooding, and storm surges caused significant damage along the coast of North and South Carolina.

Is Your Business Prepared?

It’s never too early to start preparing for a hurricane or other natural disasters such as flash flooding, tornadoes, severe weather or tropical storms.  It only takes one disaster to disrupt your business and cause significant damage.

Here are few tips to help prepare you and  your business for natural disasters:

  1. Develop an Emergency Action Plan.  Train your staff on what to do in case of weather emergencies.  It is also best to review your EAP every year, as business operations may have changed. An Emergency Action Plan should include information regarding:
    • Evacuation routes and procedures
    • Critical plant operations
    • Backing up critical information and company data records
    • Accounting for evacuees
    • Emergency Action Communication
    • Rescue and medical duties
    • Procedures for reporting emergencies
  2. Know Your Hazards.  Conduct a risk assessment and walk around the interior and exterior areas of your facility to note any potential hazards should damage occur.  Are trees close to power lines or the building? Do you have a shelter in place location away from windows and exterior walls? Are there items outside that could become airborne and cause damage?  Could you be exposed to hazardous gases or materials?
  3. Review Insurance Coverage. Meet with your insurance provider to ensure you have adequate coverage for your area. Make sure that any large or expensive equipment is included in the coverage.  Also, take the time to review your personal homeowners insurance.  Do you have flood insurance? Are you required to have flood insurance?
  4. Take Inventory of Equipment. Document, photograph or video all equipment that is mandatory for your business to operate.  Note the type of equipment, model numbers, serial numbers and date of purchase.  Equipment could include computers, large scale printers, forklifts, or any other specialized equipment.   If you hold inventory, keep records of inventory on hand.  This documentation may make it easier should you have to file a claim for damages.
  5. Back Up All Data.  Most businesses have a server that automatically backs up their data every few days or weeks.  In the event of a severe weather alert or hurricane warning, it would be best to have a Plan B.  Talk to the IT department about a cloud-based back up system, in case the server itself is damaged.
  6. Know Who to Call.  After a catastrophic event, many business owners are at a loss for what to do.  If structural damage or flooding occurred, then water damage has most likely occurred.   To mitigate losses, business owners should contact a reputable restoration contractor or large loss professional, in addition to insurance providers.  Meeting with a professional before hand may make things easier in the long run.  The professional will be familiar with your facility and restoration needs.

If you have more questions about conducting a risk assessment  or what to do after a natural disaster strikes, Call SRP Environmental 24/7 at (866) 222-4972.   The SRP Disaster Response Team has a large network of roofers, restoration contractors and mold remediation contractors to assist you in getting your business back up and running.  With eight convenient locations in Charlotte, Dallas, Denver, Honolulu, Long Beach, Midland, Shreveport and Pittsburgh, SRP will be able to mobilize crews within 24 hours of a catastrophic event.