While the United States has a body of law governing the safe handling, transport, and disposal of hazardous materials, accidents can and do occur throughout the country on a regular basis.
A wide variety of hazardous materials are transported through, stored, or used in Jackson and Josephine County, from flammable gases to highly toxic materials. Most hazardous materials are transported into and out of Jackson County by truck or rail, and some are stored and used locally at area businesses. Common hazardous materials sites include high tech facilities, commercial gas stations, propane distributors, fertilizer plants, feed and garden stores and public swimming pools. Once hazardous materials are on site at industrial storage and manufacturing facilities, strict fire and building codes mandate double- and triple-redundancy safety systems to reduce the impact of human error or mechanical failures.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
In 1985, the Oregon Legislature passed the Oregon Community Right to Know (CR2K) and Protection Act. The purpose of this law is to provide first responders and the public with information about hazardous substances in their response areas and neighborhoods. The law directs the Office of State Fire Marshal to survey business and government facilities for information about the presence of hazardous substances and to collect information about incidents involving hazardous substances.
Information collected by the Community Right To Know (CR2K) unit is available to fire service personnel, emergency planners, emergency management agencies, local emergency planning committees, health professionals, environmental consultants, and the public.
To learn more about the CR2K program, visit http://www.oregon.gov/osp/sfm/pages/cr2k_home.aspx
WHAT CAN I DO TO DECREASE MY RISK OF EXPOSURE?
While there is no way to predict hazardous materials accidents, certain areas are at some degree of risk, including those located near interstate highways, railways, manufacturing, storage, or disposal facilities. Prevention of accidents, rather than prediction, is central to avoiding potential damage, loss, or contamination from hazardous materials.
All producers of hazardous material substances are required to describe the hazards on the product label. Always read the labels carefully and follow directions completely when purchasing, using, or storing these products. Whenever possible, store substances in original containers. Bulk items, such as gasoline for your power mower, should be stored only in approved containers.
Around the house, remember the acronym LIES:
Limit - limit the amount of hazardous materials stored to the absolute minimum.
Isolate - store hazardous materials in a separate, locked cabinet whenever possible.
Eliminate - get rid of hazardous materials as soon as they are no longer needed.
Separate - do not store potential reactants together - for example, oxidizers with flammables, or bleach with ammonia.
HOW WILL I KNOW WHAT TO DO IF THERE IS AN EMERGENCY?
During a hazardous materials incident in your neighborhood, emergency personnel will tell you what to do. They may evacuate you to a safe area until the spill is cleaned up, or they may ask you to shelter in place until it is safe to go outside.
If you witness a hazardous materials transportation accident, spill, or leakage, distance yourself from the site to minimize risk of contamination - stay uphill, upwind, or upstream. Try to go at least one-half mile (about 10 city blocks) from the danger area. Call 9-1-1. Your local fire department will isolate the area, investigate the situation, and may call in the regional hazardous materials response team, if needed.
In the event of a hazardous materials release in your community:
Tune to your local radio or television stations for further information. In Jackson County, all radio and major network television stations broadcast emergency information.
If you’re in the affected area, follow all instructions from public officials.
Be sure to sign up for Citizen Alert to receive emergency alerts from county officials.