Natural Disasters, Bad Weather Bring on Spill Center™ for Support

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Earthquakes, wildfires and extreme weather events cause death and destruction wherever they occur. They are also responsible for releases of hazardous materials that must be dealt with quickly to minimize further damage to the environment. One type of release that is rarely reported but can be significant is oil from electrical transformers.

Spill Center™, which operates 24/7 year round, plays a role in those spill events, using advanced communications technology and proprietary systems to support customers by notifying cleanup contractors and providing them with the location of the spill and information needed to launch an immediate response.

In California, nearly 2,400 emergency calls related to oil spills from electrical transformers have come through Spill Center™ since 2015. Electric utilities notify Spill Center when a spill occurs, then Spill Center alerts a nearby contractor for an emergency response. Spill Center maintains a database with extensive information on more than 3,000 qualified environmental cleanup contractors in the U.S. and Canada.

Utilities experience numerous spill incidents involving oil-filled transformers. In California alone, 453 calls were reported to Spill Center and handled by cleanup contractors in 2015. In 2016, that number more than doubled to 916. This year, by November, Spill Center has received more than 1,000 calls related to the electric utility transformer spills.

Used for transmission and distribution of electricity, transformers are filled with refined mineral oil, which acts as an insulator and coolant. Small transformers, which hold up to 10 gallons of oil, are typically pole-mounted. Larger units are mounted on a pad or incorporated in a vault, which hold hundreds of gallons of oil, explains Jeff Testa, Spill Center Operations Manager.

“These incidents in California are usually weather-related, caused by storms or natural disasters such as wildfires. Many spills involving pole-mounted distribution transformers are the result of vehicle accidents,” he says. “As soon as we are notified by the utility, we call the contractor with the location and type of spill, and they respond.”

Since 1990, Spill Center’s team of environmental, technical and legal specialists have been helping clients contain costs and limit potential liability after pollution events on the road, at sea and at their facilities.

Learn more about Spill Center’s program for supporting businesses at risk for accidental spills of hazmat, diesel fuel and other regulated substances at our integrated website: www.spillcenter.com . Or email Tom Moses, Spill Center president and founder, at tmoses@spillcenter.com . Call him at 978-568-1922 to discuss how the Spill Center program can work for your company.