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Oil and Hazardous Materials Spills

  1. Overview
  2. Oil Spills
  3. Chemicals
    1. Minor Chemical Spill
    2. Major Chemical Spill
  4. Preventing Spills


A spill is defined as “a material out of control.” In a particular sense, the quantity of material is not important. The essential issue is whether the hazards, location, and quantity cause the situation to be beyond the capability of the staff to clean up the spill and return the area to normal working conditions without the assistance of emergency personnel. The cleanup crew must be properly trained, must don the appropriate personal protective gear, and must use suitable equipment and supplies.

A major chemical spill requires the assistance of emergency personnel from outside the department: EHS, Campus Safety, and the Keene Fire Department.

Some chemical spills or uncontrolled releases of fuels, oil, or other materials require follow-up reporting with government agencies, even when there is no injury or damage associated with them. Any incident resulting in building evacuation, employee injury, or off-site impact, will trigger notification to local, state, and federal agencies. At KSC, these reports are the responsibility of the EHS office. Therefore, it is extremely important that you contact EHS at the numbers noted above.

Oil Spills

KSC has a Spill Prevention and Countermeasures Control (SPCC) Plan that describes procedures in the event of an oil spill. Once emergency services are notified, contact EHS or Physical Plant. It is the responsibility of EHS to immediately report all spills to the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) at 603-271-3644 or 603-271-3636, unless all of the following conditions are met:

  • the discharge is less than 25 gallons
  • the discharge is immediately contained
  • the discharge and contamination is completely removed within 24 hours
  • there is no impact to groundwater or surface water.

If a spill results in a violation of water-quality standards or causes a film or sheen upon or discoloration of the surface of water or adjoining shorelines, the National Response Center (NRC) in Washington, D.C., must also be immediately notified (800-424-8802).


Any release of a hazardous chemical or material that cannot be contained by available spill containment materials should be reported immediately to the Keene Fire Department by dialing 911:

  • When reporting, be specific about the nature of the involved material and exact location.
  • Once emergency services are notified, or in the event of a controllable spill, the Physical Plant and EHS Office should be notified.
  • The key person on-site should vacate the affected area at once, closing doors on the way out to prevent further contamination of other areas until the arrival of fire department personnel.

If there is a threat to human health or the environment or when there can be off-site impact, any incident involving hazardous waste or material must be reported immediately to the NHDES (603-271-3644 or 603-271-3636), and the NRC (800-424-8802). A courtesy call should also be made to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region I Spill Response (617-918-1279). If a spill discharges to the sanitary sewer, the spill must be reported immediately to the Keene Industrial Pretreatment Coordinator (357-9836, ext.6504) or Mutual Aid (911) if after hours.

Minor Chemical Spill

A minor chemical spill is considered one that either laboratory staff or faculty is capable of handling safely without assistance and where there is no injury or threat of imminent injury. Typically, a minor spill would be considered less than 0.5 liter (as a rule of thumb) of a material that is not highly toxic. Spill kits are available in each laboratory and should only be used by qualified staff or faculty with knowledge of the properties and hazards posed by the chemical and any potential dangers posed by the location of the spill. Spill cleanup materials should be segregated for hazardous waste disposal. EHS should be contacted for advice and assistance. The basic procedure is as follows:

  • Alert all persons nearby the spill area.
  • Use eyewash or safety shower if needed to decontaminate.
  • Use a spill kit to clean up and segregate cleanup materials for hazardous waste disposal. Use proper personal protective equipment, which at a minimum will include chemical-resistant gloves and safety glasses.
  • Decontaminate the spill area with water or soap and water mixture it’s if a nonreactive chemical.
  • Wash hands thoroughly and seek medical attention if necessary.
  • Notify EHS.

Major Chemical Spill

All other spills not described above are considered major spills. Keene State College does not have an on-site emergency response team; therefore, primary response is to evacuate, call for help, and protect human health. The basic procedure is as follows:

  • Avoid breathing vapors of spilled material.
  • If possible and safe to do so, turn off any ignition source or gas emergency shutoff valve.
  • Remove any contaminated persons from spill area and decontaminate via eyewash or safety shower. The use of a safety shower is never a mistake; do not be reluctant to use the shower in the event of personal chemical contamination.
  • Anyone who may be contaminated by the spill should avoid contact with others as much as possible, remain in the vicinity, and give their names to the fire department. First aid and any necessary decontamination by specialized authorities would be started at once if necessary.
  • Evacuate the area and close the door to the lab.
  • Call 358-2228 or 911 and notify the operator of the location, nature, and volume of the spill.
  • Contact Campus Safety to initiate internal notifications, including EHS. EHS/Campus Safety or Keene HazMat should be directed to contact Clean Harbors (800-645-8265) for spill cleanup and disposal.

Preventing Spills

  • Store all chemicals properly.
  • Anchor all shelves and storage cabinets. Don’t overload them.
  • Keep incompatible chemicals away from each other. Consult the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for information on a chemical’s incompatibility and proper storage practices.
  • Limit purchases to only those chemicals needed in the smallest amount possible. The less on hand, the less that can spill.
  • Keep all containers, including waste containers, tightly sealed when not in use.
  • Keep all compressed gas cylinders secured. Segregate flammable gasses from other gasses when not actively being used.
  • Maintain strict housekeeping standards in any areas where chemicals are used or stored.
Emergency Handbook – Page 11 of 12

About this Policy

Ownership: Environmental Health and Safety; Campus Safety
Last Modified: Mar 25, 2021 –
Categories: Safety
For questions regarding this policy, please contact the policy owner.
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