We’ve Cleaned Up a Spillage on Site, What Now?

If you have a spillage, our previous blog (that you can read here) explains what you need to do in terms of initial response.  But once you have cleaned up a spill, what do you do then?  This blog will discuss the next stages to ensure a spillage does not cause pollution and to try and prevent it from happening again.

Investigate the Underground Pollution Pathways

When cleaning up a spillage, you should take all reasonable actions to ensure that the spillage is fully contained, absorbed and that your drains are protected.  Even if you think you’ve absorbed everything, there is a possibility that some pollution escaped to the drainage system so you should check along the drainage network, including under manhole covers and at outfall locations, to determine if there is any contamination.  This should be done immediately after the incident and again a few days later to make sure no pollution has escaped your containment efforts.  If contamination is discovered, it should be dealt with immediately to ensure it does not leave your site and cause pollution.

Restock Pollution Control Equipment

Whenever you have used pollution control equipment, such as spill kits or drain mats, you must make sure they are restocked as soon as possible.  Ideally, this will include deployment of spill kit spares, which you will then need to be re-ordered.  If you don’t have any spares on site, make sure you order replacement kits as soon as possible; you need to make sure you are covered if there is another spillage.

Report the Incident

All incidents should be reported internally.  At a minimum, details of the incident, including date, time, what and how much was spilled should be included, as well as who was involved and what actions were taken to deal with the incident.  The report should include the details of any contractors that were engaged to help clean up the spill and additional actions that were taken after the incident, including checking the drainage network.  If pollution escaped the site, you may need to inform an external regulatory body.  If pollution escapes to surface water, this would be the Environment Agency and if it escapes to foul water, this would be the water company.  You should provide all relevant information and keep a record of the communications.

Investigate the Incident

Internally, you should investigate the incident, to find out how and why it happened and determine whether any controls can be put into place to prevent it from happening again.  Any controls should be implemented and any lessons learned communicated to all staff so you can continually improve and help prevent pollution from your activities.

If you have a spill, quick and effective response is essential to prevent and minimise pollution escaping from your site.  After the initial clean-up, you must make sure that there is no contamination in your drainage network, report the incident, investigate why it happened and implement any changes to prevent it from happening again.