It is very important to factor in the cleanup of hazardous waste materials into any natural disaster plan or strategy. As climate change continues to happen, the number of natural disasters is expected to rise. Not only will they occur more frequently, they will become increasingly more powerful and destructive. By having a plan in place to remove waste, we can reduce the dangers of fires, injuries, and possibly even disease vectors.
Pre-Incident Planning of Hazardous Waste Removal for Natural Disasters
Unfortunately, most natural disasters generate waste and debris. And often times they also generate hazardous waste materials. By having a plan in place, the impact of the waste generated by the incident can potentially be reduced. Those involved in the planning should be trained for the situation. There is HAZWOPER training online that is available. HAZWOPER is an acronym for Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response.
The benefits of people who are trained and prepared to handle hazardous waste materials resulting from a natural disaster include saving both valuable time and resources. A plan also creates an environment of more effective decision-making during the incident. A solid plan involves the community as a whole, stakeholders such as the government and local private owners of disposal facilities, and residents of the community to all work together. Because everyone knows the plan in advance, it minimizes any conflicts in the recovery effort.
Steps that Can Be Taken in Advance of a Natural Disaster
If a community agrees that it is in their best interest to pre-plan for hazardous waste removal in the event of a natural disaster, the following steps should be taken in preparation.
- Identify possible waste streams that a natural disaster may generate.
- Evaluate possible recycling options.
- Look at the different waste collection strategy options that are available.
- Determine the possible sites for waste staging, storage, and decontamination.
- Select and negotiate contracts with waste management facilities available for use.
- Inform the community of the waste-management plan.
- Consider any health and safety issues and make sure the team handling decontamination and disposal is properly trained. HAZWOPER training online is available for those involved in the disposal of hazardous waste materials.
Additional Information on Planning for Hazardous Waste Removal After a Natural Disaster
Before beginning a plan, it is important to prioritize the planning activities. With a structured format in place, the team should be able to build a comprehensive plan for pre-incident waste management. It is also critical to keep the plan updated regularly. Have the waste disposal facilities changed ownership or closed down? Does everyone have current HAZWOPER training online completed? Regularly schedule a time to review the plan and see that it is current. And when disaster strikes, you will be ready to implement the hazardous waste removal plan effectively.