2008 Department of Transportation Emergency Response Guidebook

The 2008 edition of the Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG) is being distributed to emergency response organizations across the United States and Canada. Designed by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), Transport Canada, and the Mexican...


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If the material spilled is a marine pollutant or if oil products are spilled on the water, the National Response Center should be notified. If an RQ is listed on the shipping papers, the material is a reportable quantity of the hazardous material, and if spilled, the NRC must be contacted in addition to any other notifications made. NRC is the notification, communications, technical assistance and coordination center for the National Response Team (NRT). It can provide much of the same information on chemicals that CHEMTREC does through its OM-TADS database. NRC should also be contacted to report chemical or biological terrorist attacks.

Pages 11 and 372 provide information on emergencies involving military shipments. Two contact numbers are provided, for explosives or ammunition incidents call 703-697-0218, collect calls are accepted, all other dangerous goods incidents should be referred to 800-851-8061. These numbers are for emergencies only. An updated glossary is on pages 356-364.

Shipping Papers

Inside the front cover is an example of the type of information found on shipping papers. Emergency responders should use the emergency contact number found in the upper left corner of the papers first when trying to gain information about a product. If shipping papers are not available, then the 24-hour CHEMTREC number (800-424-9300) should be used. Shipping papers on highway transportation vehicles are in the cab of the vehicle. Railroad shipping papers will be in the possession of the train crew. Shipping papers on water vessels are in a "mail box" on a barge or in a holder on the bridge of a tug or ship. During air transportation, shipping papers are in the cockpit or are in the pilot's possession.

Response personnel should have a basic understanding of the metric system of weights and measures to better understand the terminology used in certain sections of the ERG2008. Along with the shipping papers, or attached to them, must be information that outlines the hazards of the product that can be used in the mitigation of a hazmat emergency. Attaching an Orange Guide page to the papers or having a copy of the ERG available for use satisfies this requirement.

Pipeline Transit

Hazardous materials are transported in North America through millions of miles of underground pipelines. Products commonly transported through pipelines include natural gas, crude oil, gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel. Although the pipelines are buried, aboveground structures and signs indicate their presence. The 2008 ERG contains a new section on Pipeline Transportation starting on page 24. Regulator stations, customer meters and regulators, and valve box covers are generally the only aboveground indications of gas distribution pipelines.

Should you notice a leak or a spill, remember to only approach from upwind and uphill, identify the emergency telephone number for the company and then call that number as well as 911. Be cautious concerning the risks of asphyxiation, flammability as well as the danger of a potential explosion. If you know the material involved, identify the three-digit guide number by looking up the name in the alphabetical list (blue-bordered pages) and then by using the three-digit guide number, consult the recommendations outlined in the recommended guide.

Placard Table

Only when a four-digit identification number is unavailable and the name of the material is unknown should responders refer to the table of placards on pages 16-17 for placards and labels displayed on containers and transportation vehicles. The placard table shows three new placards used under the DOT regulations that were not shown in the 2004 guidebook. The new placards are with the Poison Placards, Oxidizer Placards and the Miscellaneous Dangerous Goods Placards. In a circle next to each placard on the table is an action guide number from the orange section, which is used for materials displaying the placard shown. When a Dangerous Placard is displayed, guide 111 is used for mixed loads or unidentified cargo. If the nature of the spilled, leaking or burning material is unknown, additional information must be obtained as soon as possible.

Orange action guides are grouped by hazard class and special information surrounding the shipment. A listing of hazard classes is on page 14. This listing corresponds with the hazard classes represented on the placard table. Information is provided from the DOT's placarding and labeling system.

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