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Most read articles
|0507 ANM: Emergency action plans|
|Archives - Past Articles|
|Wednesday, 16 May 2007 03:43|
There are a variety of dangerous situations and accidents that can occur on a farm. The National Safety Council rates the three most dangerous occupations in the United States as mining, farming and construction. Not being prepared for emergencies could result in personal injury, property damage and environmental damage on the farm and in the larger community.
Accidents you may want to plan for include fire and explosions, medical emergencies, severe weather and threats to water resources and the environment. While it is a good idea to plan for a variety of accidents, the focus of this [article] is on environmental emergencies.
The largest causes of regulatory fines levied against animal agriculture are manure spills and discharges. Preventing and properly responding to accidental discharges on a farm is everyone’s concern. Communication between the farm owner, supervisors and employees generates ideas and awareness that leads to accident prevention and quick response if a spill does occur. Good, current response plans and regular inspections of your manure management and application system are essential links in maintaining a safe, accident-free operation.
A properly written, complete plan will:
•provide essential information to workers and others in the event of an accident
•demonstrate responsible preparation
•protect you and others against environmental damage
•meet state or other regulatory requirements
What is an emergency action plan?
An emergency action plan (EAP) is a basic, yet thorough, common sense plan that will help you, your family and your employees make the right decisions during an emergency. Such a plan should include three sections:
Part 1 of EAP – Site plan
The site plan should include a detailed description of the animal production facility site and land application areas. Your farm map should be a part of this plan and any additional detailed maps or diagrams of buildings and waste storage structures. Consider including the following details on your emergency plan maps and diagrams:
•entrances and exits from each building
•first aid kit and fire extinguisher location(s)
•manure storage facility details (access, valves, pumps, switches, etc.)
•wells, water lines and water valves
•electrical service boxes for each building
•gas lines and all fuel storage
•tile lines in and near the farmstead, especially surface inlets
•location of all emergency equipment
•all land application areas normally used
•emergency land application areas (should be nearby and usable all year)
•nearby water resources to protect such as creeks, streams, rivers, wetlands and lakes
•tile lines, surface inlets and outlet locations
•drainage ways and potential locations of emergency berms or storage
Part 2 of EAP – Emergency contact information
A phone tree or contact sheet should be made with the names and phone numbers of anyone who might be able to help in the event of an emergency. Suggested contacts for an emergency contact sheet include:
•emergency response agencies and law enforcement
•earth moving and pump equipment companies
•technical assistance providers (Extension, NRCS, consultants)
•local health department
•Department of Agriculture
This sheet should be posted next to every telephone so even part-time employees or a stranger could make emergency calls if necessary. A copy should also be maintained in your emergency action plan file.
Make sure someone is always on-farm who can speak English. The following information should be provided during an emergency call:
•physical directions to the facility
•human injuries (known or suspected)
•type of emergency or spill
•direction spill is headed (water impacted)
•how long spill has been going on and when it occurred
•steps already taken to address the situation
Part 3 of EAP – Plan of action for manure spills
Do not wait until manure or wastewater reaches a stream or leaves your property to acknowledge you have a problem; make every effort to ensure this situation does not happen. Your emergency action plan should be available to all employees and they should be trained in its use because accidents, leaks and breaks can happen at any time.
To be most effective, your emergency action plan should follow these steps:
•Eliminate the source.
•Contain the spill, if possible.
•Assess the extent of the spill and note any obvious damage.
•Notify the appropriate agencies.
•Clean up the spill and make repairs.
•Prepare and submit a summary report.
Considering these generic steps, you should write specific responses to emergencies that could cause the most damage and are possible considering the type of storage and application systems you have.
Post-spill assessment and reporting
Assessments or follow-up reports give you and the regulatory agency an opportunity to reflect and learn from the events that led up to the spill and those actions that were taken following the spill. The following suggestions provide the information that should be included in a post-spill assessment report. This record will help you should any legal action result, and will help you prevent similar occurrences in the future.
•Assess the extent of the spill and note any obvious damages:
–Did the waste reach any surface waters, wetlands, tile drains, or wells?
–Approximately how much manure was released and for what duration?
–Did you note any damage such as employee injury, fish kills or property damage?
•Response to spill:
–When and where was the spill contained?
–What measures were taken to avoid additional contamination and threat to the environment or human health?
–Did anyone or any local group assist in the cleanup?
–Was a technical specialist (NRCS, Conservation District or engineer) consulted?
–What corrective actions are necessary to repair any damage to your storage structure, manure transfer or application equipment?
•Cause of the spill:
–Can you determine the cause of the spill or discharge?
Also, in a an emergency, you may want permission to access neighboring property if there is a chance to stop a spill from reaching surface waters. ANM