Hazmat Studies: 2012 ERG: A Vital Resource For First Responders

T he 2012 edition of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG) has been released, featuring new information about gases, placarding and responses to incidents involving boiling liquid expanding vapor explosions...


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Emergency contacts

Notifications that must be made by first responders can be placed into three general categories: Organization/Agency, Emergency Response Telephone Number and National Assistance. The appropriate national resources to notify during a hazmat incident are identified on pages 388-389. If the material spilled is a marine pollutant or if oil products are spilled on water, the National Response Center (NRC) should be notified. “RQ” listed on shipping papers means the material is a reportable quantity of a hazardous material and if spilled, the NRC must be contacted in addition to any other notifications made. The 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. A glossary on pages 374-382 includes three new terms for 2012.

Inside the front cover is an example of the type of information found on shipping papers. Responders should use the emergency contact number located in the upper left corner of the papers first when trying to gain information about a product. If shipping papers are not available, the 24-hour CHEMTREC number or other emergency contact numbers in the book should be used. 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 satisfies this requirement.

Pipeline transportation

Hazardous materials are transported in North America through millions of miles of underground pipelines. Products commonly transported through pipeline systems include natural gas, crude oil, gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel. Although the pipelines are buried, aboveground structures and signs indicate their presence. If a leak is discovered, identify the emergency telephone number for the company located on an aboveground pipeline marker and then call that number as well as 911.

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 use the three-digit guide number to consult the recommendations outlined. This section has been expanded in the 2012 ERG. An additional sign has been included and additional response information has been provided for gas and liquid pipeline emergencies. The information is organized into Rupture and Leak Indicators, Response Actions and Protective Actions.

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 6 and 7 for placards and labels displayed on containers and transportation vehicles. The placard table shows three new placards used under the DOT regulations.

One new placard is with the Class 6 Poison placards, in particular Infectious Substances, and two have been added to the Miscellaneous Dangerous Goods placards. In a circle next to each placard on the table is an action-guide number from the orange section that is used for materials displaying the placard shown. The orange-guide reference for anhydrous ammonia has been changed from 123 to 125. For 1.6 explosives the placards have been added to the 1.4 placards. This move changes the orange guide for 1.6 explosives from 112 to 114.

If reference to a guidebook page cannot be found and the incident is believed to involve Dangerous Goods, use guide 111 until additional information becomes available. When a Dangerous placard is displayed, guide 111 is used for mixed loads or unidentified cargo. A listing of hazard classes is on page 4. This listing corresponds with the hazard classes represented on the placard table. If there are additional Dangerous Goods in the vehicle, additional placards must be provided.