Keeping Tabs on Toxic Spills

by A. Essam Radwan, (M.ASCE), Assoc. Prof.; Center of Advanced Research in Transportation, Arizona State Univ., Tempe, AZ,
Jerome Fields, Loss Control Specialist; CNA Insurance Co., Phoenix, AZ,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1990, Vol. 60, Issue 4, Pg. 70-72

Document Type: Feature article


EPA estimates on the number of hazardous material accidents in the past five years range widely from 7,000 accidents to 20,000, primarily because information on these accidents is so poorly coordinated. In Arizona, for example, as many as 24 agencies may arrive at an accident site to fill out reports. Unfortunately, Arizona has neither a standardized form nor a central, computerized database to store all this information once it's collected. Thus, cross-referencing common incidents becomes nearly impossible, information is confused and some incidents have even been reported twice. Recently, Arizona tried to solve the problem by devising a state-wide, uniform, hazardous materials incident reporting form and data collection system. Arizona DOT tested the system with a four-month pilot study of Maricopa and Coconino Counties, conducted from Dec. 1, 1987-April 1, 1988. Halfway through the pilot study, two key agencies backed out, complaining about the extra paperwork. The final number of returned forms was disappointing, agency cooperation was less than desirable and forms were filled out wrong. The pilot study further highlighted the problem of unreported accidents, confusing data and uncooperative agencies.

Subject Headings: Accidents | Hazardous materials | Aging (material) | Toxicity | Hazardous materials spills | Data collection | Environmental Protection Agency | Environmental issues | Arizona | United States

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