The Ultimate Roadmap to Navigating a Spill Response

Shield_December-02-1-2Spill Response Management is serious business.

The faster the process begins, the less hazardous the situation becomes. Environmental spills of any size or severity can have devastating outcomes. 


Shield Engineering's Action Environmental Group has over 20 years of experience offering incident management services 24/7. From consultation to mobilization, our Action Environmental Group's process alleviates chaos and coordinates cleanup so that you can get back to business as soon as possible after an incident. 

What to Know About Environmental Spills

There are hundreds if not thousands of different substances that can wreak serious havoc on an area. Spills range in seriousness depending on the material spilled, quantity spilled, and the location of the spill. Some spilled materials, such as petroleum, can have long-lasting effects on both human welfare and the natural environment. Other spills, such as those involving caustic chemicals, can actually cause immediate physical harm. 

Experienced spill response management teams consider each spill an independent problem; containment and remediation vary depending on factors like soil, surface water, groundwater, weather, location, and the amount of material involved. 

The faster you call an environmental response professional, the less damage a spill is likely to do.


What to Expect When Navigating a Spill Response

1. Immediate Consultation

The moment your facility detects a spill is the time to call for assistance. When clients call Action Environmental, they'll immediately have the opportunity to speak with an experienced spill professional. Whether it's 8am or 3am, Action Environmental is ready to help. We understand that spills don't always happen during business hours, but a prompt response is the difference between a small mistake and a complete disaster. 

Together, the client and response team will determine the size and severity of a spill through a series of questions.

  • How large is the spill area? 
  • Is the spill ongoing or has it been contained? 
  • Are the spilled substances flammable or explosive?

Once these questions have been addressed, a decision will be made about whether professional cleanup crews should be dispatched. 

The spill response professional will provide explicit guidance throughout the process. They'll determine how the spill should be cleaned up, assist with disposal of the cleaned up materials, and define what measurements should be used to determine that the spill has been successfully handled. 

When in-house cleanup isn't an option, the spill response professional will immediately begin coordinating the necessary resources for mobilization.

2. Coordination of Resources

The resources required to treat a spill greatly depend on the size and severity of the incident itself. It's imperative that all directions from the spill response coordinator be heeded, including and especially those concerning vacating the affected area and/or notifying the general public. 

The response coordinator will work with a number of different teams simultaneously to dispatch cleanup and remediation crews to the physical location of the spill. Action Environmental works with over 1,700 national contractors who have specific experience handling environmental spills. 

Throughout the process, your response coordinator will keep you updated on the progress of mobilization. You will be given a detailed timeline for response and instructions on what to do while you're waiting for the crews to arrive.

3. Mobilization & Cleanup

Action Environmental's spill response management teams have over two decades of experience handling emergency spill situations. Once they understand the parameters of a spill, they know who to call.

How do you contain and remediate spills? Action Environmental uses dozens of methods for spill containment, each dependent on the material, size, and nature of each spill. 

A few of the most common containment and remediation methods include: 

  • Containing the spill, typically with sorbent materials. 
  • Vacuuming up spilled materials. 
  • Sweeping and/or washing affected impervious areas. 
  • Excavating impacted soil. 
  • Removal of the cleaned up materials. 
  • Restoration of the area. 

Our spill response teams will also employ tried-and-true safety tactics to keep the area secure during treatment. These can include cordoning off the affected area with tape or fencing and even working with local law enforcement to keep the public away from the site. 

Crews will also obtain all necessary equipment for cleanup that a facility may not have on hand. This could include anything from high-lumen spotlights to HAZMAT suits and other protection depending on the nature of the spill. 

4. Notification of Authorities

Concurrent with spill mitigation efforts, regulatory bodies and authorities should be contacted to report regulated spills. Facility operators should check with the spill response professional to determine if a spill is reportable. 

One of the primary jobs of a spill response management team is to coordinate with state and federal authorities. When prompted by the client, Action Environmental's team will connect with appropriate contacts to provide relevant information on the spill and cleanup process. Working with a professional spill response team helps ensure regulatory bodies that a spill is under control. 

The nature and location of the spill will dictate the specific entitites that need to be contacted. A few of the most important to consider include: 

  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • State-Specific Environmental Agencies
  • Local Offices of Emergency Management 

5. Follow Up

Cleanup can take anywhere from a few hours to a few months, so continued communication between spill response teams, facility managers, and regulators will require scheduled reporting throughout the entire cleanup process. 

Spills never happen in a vacuum. When a spill occurs, it's important for facility managers to consider the need for additional training. Safeguards should be put in place to ensure a spill doesn't occur in the future, and to certify that all existing staff knows exactly what to do in the event of a spill. action can help with training your staff regarding spill management and threat mitigation. 

An experienced spill response management team won't disappear once the spill is under control. Action Environmental takes great care to guide you throughout the process, up until all regulatory bodies determine that no further action is needed.


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Working with Action means you have a partner in the process. 

Action Environmental reports to you. 

Our team of spill response professionals have decades of experience navigating some of the most complex environmental emergencies in history. From oil spills to hazardous material train derailments, no spill is too large or too dangerous for Action. 

If you have a spill, don't wait to contact a trusted management team. The sooner you act, the more control you'll have over the cleanup process and the faster your complete recovery will be. 

Reach out to Action Environmental anytime - 24/7/365 - for solutions to environmental spill emergencies at 1-800-948-6044.

In the meantime, download The Ultimate Roadmap to Navigating a Spill Response poster, giving you everything you need to know to stay prepared when an emergency strikes. 



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