Hazardous materials are substances or chemicals that pose a health hazard, a physical hazard, or harm to the environment. Hazardous materials are defined and regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
Hazardous materials spills can happen anywhere. When they do occur, quick action is necessary to prevent injury or damage to human life, critical infrastructure (roads, power systems, medical facilities, schools, water treatment facilities), the environment and personal property. In Virginia, hazardous materials incidents involve both local and sometimes state resources to respond and appropriate manage and remediate a release.
For CDL information regarding hazmat endorsements, please visit the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles
Before a Hazardous Materials Incident
Many communities have Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs) whose responsibilities include collecting information about hazardous materials in the community and planning made available to the public upon request. Contact your local emergency management office for more information on LEPCs.
The following are things you can do to protect yourself, your family and your property from the effects of a hazardous materials incident:
- Build an Emergency Supply Kit with the addition of plastic sheeting and duct tape
- Make a Family Emergency Plan
- Know how to operate your home’s ventilation system
- Identify an above-ground shelter room with as few openings as possible.
- Read more about Sheltering in Place
During a Hazardous Materials Incident
Listen to local radio or television stations for detailed information and follow instructions carefully. Remember that some toxic chemicals are odorless.
After a Hazardous Materials Incident
The following are guidelines for the period following a hazardous materials incident:
- Listen to local radio or television stations for the latest emergency information.
- Go to a designated public shelter if you have been told to evacuate or you feel it is unsafe to remain in your home. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345).
- Act quickly if you have come in to contact with or have been exposed to hazardous chemicals.
- Follow decontamination instructions from local authorities.
- Seek medical treatment for unusual symptoms as soon as possible.
- Place exposed clothing and shoes in tightly sealed containers.
- Advise everyone who comes in to contact with you that you may have been exposed to a toxic substance.
- Return home only when authorities say it is safe. Open windows and vents and turn on fans to provide ventilation.
- Find out from local authorities how to clean up your land and property.
- Report any lingering vapors or other hazards to your local emergency services office.
Federal Planning Initiatives
The federal [Oil Pollution Act of 1990](https://www.deq.virginia.gov/?splash=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.epa.gov%2Flaws-regulations%2Fsummary-oil-pollution-act%23%3A\~%3Atext%3DThe%2520Oil%2520Pollution%2520Act%2520(OPA%2Cor%2520unwilling%2520to%2520do%2520so.&____isexternal=true) (OPA 90) established Area Committees to serve as spill preparedness planning bodies responsible for developing coordinated responses to the discharge (or threat of discharge) of oil or hazardous substances in Inland and Coastal zones. VDEM is a member of several planning bodies as described below.
Region 3 Regional Response Team (RRT3) The National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (National Contingency Plan or NCP) is the federal government’s blueprint for responding to both oil spills and hazardous substance releases. The NCP establishes Regional Response Teams (RRTs) and their roles and responsibilities in coordinating preparedness, planning, and response at the federal regional level. The Federal Region 3 RRT is the planning body for the commonwealths of Virginia and Pennsylvania and the states of West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia.. The RRT 3 also includes representatives from 16 federal departments and agencies For more information, see the RRT3 homepage. Inland Area and Coastal Area Committees OPA 90 established area committees responsible for developing strategies for coordinated responses to oil or hazardous substance spills. VDEM participates in on both the Region 3 Inland Area Committee and the Virginia Area Committee. Virginia Area Contingency Plan VDEM is a member of the Virginia Area Committee that is responsible for developing and maintaining the Virginia Area Contingency Plan (ACP). For more information regarding the Virginia Area Contingency Plan, please visit: https://www.deq.virginia.gov/home/showpublisheddocument/10459/637647225838000000
Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA)
The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) of 1986 was created to help communities plan for chemical emergencies. It also requires industry to report on the storage, use and releases of hazardous substances to federal, state, and local governments. EPCRA requires state and local governments, and Indian tribes to use this information to prepare for and protect their communities from potential risks.
Virginia Tier II Reporting Requirements
Tier II Administration: Virginia Department of Environmental Quality VA DEQ SARA Title III Program 1111 East Main St., Suite 1400 Richmond, VA 23219
Post Office Box: P.O Box 1105 Richmond, VA 23218 Phone: 804-698-4000 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Webpage: https://www.deq.virginia.gov/land-waste/superfund-amendments-and-reauthorization-act-sara/community-right-to-know
Special Instructions: Virginia is requesting facilities to use Tier2 Submit and submit electronically. A new version of Tier2 Submit is created around November of each year. Download the latest version of Tier2 Submit.
For more information visit: https://www.epa.gov/epcra
Chemical Accident Prevention Program (CAPP)
CAPP builds upon existing requirements established in the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act (EPCRA), and Section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act Amendments (CAA 112(r)), of 1991. Section 112(r) requires regulated facilities to submit a risk management plan to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). To determine if an address is within the hazard area of a potential release, contact your Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), call the EPA hotline at (800) 424-9346, or check the Vulnerable Zone Indicator System (VZIS) at epa.gov.
Knowing what chemical risks are nearby helps individuals and businesses protect their families and property, hold facilities responsible for reducing risk, and increases awareness of chemical safety. To help protect your community, participate in your LEPC.
Members of the public may obtain copies of RMPs (without the off-site consequence analysis (OCA) information) by requesting them from EPA in writing (including by email). Members of the public may also read, but not copy, the OCA sections of RMPs in Federal Reading Rooms.
For information on your LEPC, contact your local Emergency Management Agency or visit this website: https://www.deq.virginia.gov/land-waste/superfund-amendments-and-reauthorization-act-sara/emergency-planning..
For information on Federal Reading Rooms, visit EPA Federal Readings Rooms for Risk Management.
America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (AWIA)
In 2018, Congress passed the American’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA) which strengthens and improves water quality. Part of the AWIA regulation amends the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act. This change requires the notification of state drinking water primacy agencies (in Virginia, Virginia Department of Health – Office of Drinking Water) of any reportable releases and requires the sharing of hazardous chemical inventory data. More information on AWIA and its requirements can be found here: https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/americas-water-infrastructure-act-2018-awia
To Report a Chemical Spill Contact:
Virginia Emergency Operations Center: 804-674-2400
National Response Center: 800-424-8802
VA EPCRA: 804-698-4000
US EPA Hotline: 800-424-9346
The Risk Management Plan (RMP) Rule, requires regulated facilities that use extremely hazardous substances to coordinate with local emergency response and planning agencies. There are 140, 112(r) regulated substances, 77 extremely toxic and 63 extremely flammable substances. Facilities using these substances in a single process and where the quantity exceeds the threshold quantity (TQ), must submit a risk management plan to the EPA through RMP*eSubmit.
Any facility where extremely hazardous substances are present in any quantity, are subject to the General Duty Clause (GDC), CAA Section 112(r)(1). GDC is a performance-based authority recognizing that owner/operators have a general duty and responsibility to prevent and mitigate accidental chemical releases. General Duty Clause under the Clean Air Act Section 112(r)(1) | Risk Management Plan (RMP) Rule | US EPA
Facilities that are required to submit a copy of their plan to the State Emergency Response Council should submit them to the following:
Virginia Department of Emergency Management
Attn: Technological Hazards
9711 Farrar Court
North Chesterfield, Virginia 23236
Virginia Hazardous Materials Response Teams
The VDEM Hazardous Materials Program, working with other partner agencies, provides training, technical assistance, and on-scene emergency response and coordination. The program is managed by Tom Jordan and utilizes 10 Hazardous Materials Specialists and 12 locally-based hazardous materials response teams to provide rapid advanced technical assistance and support to jurisdictional responders throughout the Commonwealth.
These hazmat teams are available to supplement local resources when an incident exceeds local capabilities or requires specialized hazmat training and equipment. If an on-scene incident commander or a local emergency manager has a technical question or needs a hazmat team to respond, this can be requested by calling the VEOC at 1-804-674-2400. The Situational Awareness Unit (SAU) will connect the on-call Hazmat Officer 24 hours a day for technical advice or will facilitate dispatch of a hazmat team.