Contingency Planning for Spills

anne General Information

If your company is at risk for environmental spills requiring cleanup and reporting, the best first defense is a having contingency plan that can serve as a roadmap for key personnel to follow in response to a spill. A contingency plan is the key to efficient coordination of cleanup, mitigation and reporting activities after any environmental release requiring a fast, efficient emergency response.

Your spill contingency plan should contain detailed instructions for handling spills quickly and complying with all regulations associated with those incidents, including all required regulatory reporting. Creating a written plan is the first step in spill preparedness, and it’s the best way to contain costs and limit liability associated with spills.

A spill contingency plan is important because it ensures that the right people in your company are notified, the right internal and external reports are triggered, and preferred contractors are contacted to handle the spill. The contingency plan is the key to efficient coordination of cleanup, mitigation and reporting efforts.

“The time you spend ‘planning a spill’ can help minimize your costs and limit the likelihood of liability claims in the event of an unintentional release on the road or at your facility,” observes Tom Moses, president and founder of Spill Center™, the North American leader in spill support and environmental claims management.

“Your contingency plan should contain response and reporting details for each activity that has the potential to produce a spill emergency,” says Tom, a former U.S. EPA toxicologist who holds a law degree and a certificate in hazardous materials control and emergency response.

“List the names and phone numbers of local, state and federal environmental agencies and their reporting requirements. And make sure someone in your organization is responsible for keeping up with changes in the regulations. Line up outside resources and experts and make them a part of your spill emergency team,” he adds.

The contingency plan should also list the names and contacts of local cleanup contractors qualified to handle spills of the materials used in your facilities and areas in which your fleet operates. You might include an expert in environmental claims management such as Spill Center, which can provide assistance with technical and legal aspects associated with spills.

“By aligning yourself with experts who are equipped to provide assistance when you need it most, you broaden your state of preparedness and help minimize your company’s exposure to high spill-related costs and potential liability,” Tom relates.

“Spill Center, for example, assists clients with custom spill contingency planning, makes cleanup contractor referrals, and handles all required regulatory reporting, incident screening, invoice auditing, and documentation of incidents. No fleet should ever have enough spills to get good at handling them.”

Also important is accessibility to your spill contingency plan. Keep it in a secure location which is accessible 24/7 to the key people in your company. Online storage is well suited for this purpose. Spill Center provides secure storage for clients’ contingency plans, as well as databases with nearly 30,000 up-to-date federal, state, provincial and local jurisdictions throughout North America and over 3,000 cleanup contractors qualified in environmental spill response.

After a spill, a Spill Center compliance associate researches which firms are available to respond in the vicinity of the spill and you choose which one you want to handle it. Spill Center receives no compensation from contractors.

“Regardless of whether you decide to use the services of Spill Center or another third-party to coordinate your spill response and reporting or whether you prefer to handle it yourself, make the spill contingency plan a vital part of your preparedness,” advises Tom. For information about Spill Center’s services, visit the website: Or call Tom Moses at 978-568-1922. Email him at