Chemical Spills

OEHS Banner

General Chemical Spill Guidelines

Determine the extent and type of spill. Contact the UAHuntsville Police Department (UAHPD) at 256-824-6911 if any of the following apply:

  • Large spill category
  • Release to the environment
  • Acutely hazardous chemical (as listed in the HWMP) spill
  • No one trained in the proper procedures for cleaning chemical

Spill Classification Table

Treatment Materials
Small Spilled material < 300 milliliters Chemical Treatment Neutralization or absorption spill kit
Medium 300 ml < spilled material < 5 Liters Absorption Absorption Spill Kit
Large Spilled material > 5 Liters Call UAHPD at extension 6911 (256-824-6911)
  • Immediately alert area occupants and supervisor, and evacuate the area, if necessary.
  • Contact the UAHPD at 256-824-6911 or dial 911 in the event of a fire or when medical attention is required.
  • Attend to any people who may be contaminated. The First Aid Manual for Chemical Accidents is available in each laboratory building. Refer to the posted signs for location information. Contaminated clothing must be removed immediately and the skin flushed with water for at least fifteen minutes. Clothing must be laundered separate from other clothing before reuse.
  • Immediately warn everyone when a volatile flammable material is spilled. Control sources of ignition. Ventilate the area by turning on the fume hoods with the sashes completely open and open all windows.
  • Use the appropriate personal protective equipment for the hazard involved. Refer to the Material Safety Data Sheet or other available references for information.
  • The use of respiratory protection requires specialized training and medical surveillance. DO NOT enter a contaminated atmosphere without protection or use a respirator without training. Call UAHPD at 256-824-6911 or dial 911 when respiratory protection is required and there are no trained personnel available. When respiratory protection is used for emergency purposes there must be another trained person outside the spill area. This person must have communication abilities with the person in the spill area. Contact UAHPD when no one is available for back-up.
  • Cover or block floor drains or any other route that could lead to an environmental release.
  • Use the appropriate media when cleaning spills. Begin by circling the outer edge of the spill with absorbent. Next, distribute spill control materials over the surface of the spill. This will effectively stop the liquid from spreading and minimize volatilization.
  • Place absorbed materials in an appropriate container using a brush and scoop. Small spills can be placed in polyethylene bags. Larger quantity spills may require five-gallon pails or 20-gallon drums with polyethylene liners.
  • Absorbent materials used on the chemical spill will most likely require disposal as hazardous waste. Place a completed hazardous waste label on the container. Contact OEHS at 256-824-2352 for information concerning preparing waste for disposal and for a waste pick-up.
  • Clean the surface where the spill occurred using a mild detergent and water.

Solvent Spills

  • Apply activated charcoal to the perimeter of the spill.
  • Mix until the spill has been completely absorbed.
  • Transfer the absorbed solvent to a hazardous waste bag, tie and attach an appropriate label.
  • Contact the OEHS for pick-up.
  • Clean the area with soapy water.

Oil Spills

In the event of an oil spill, refer to the UAH Oil Spill Response Plan