Reducing Costs After Hazmat Spills

Insurers are in the business of controlling costs related to client claims, which can get out of control quickly when they involve environmental releases of hazardous materials and other regulated substances. A Spill Center™ transportation client ended up with bills for thousands of dollars to reimburse fire and rescue services after a minor diesel fuel spill when 28 emergency personnel from two fire departments arrived on the scene.

One of the carrier’s trucks had jack-knifed in a collision with another vehicle not far from the terminal in rural central Pennsylvania. As a result of the accident, the truck’s fuel crossover line ruptured. By the driver’s calculation of miles traveled since his last fill-up, no more than five or six gallons of diesel fuel remained in the tank to leak out.

Emergency crews typically don’t respond to spills that small. Yet fire departments have a right by law to be compensated when called by police at accident scenes. Could the driver have done anything to reduce the charges totaling $14,346 that the carrier later received from the two fire departments?

Since the carrier was a Spill Center client, the driver should have immediately called the Spill Center Hotline to report the incident. We would have contacted the local authorities and fire departments to advise them of the small quantity of fuel involved and that Spill Center would be handling the incident. We would, basically, give them enough information to decide not to respond to the scene.

A spill that seems very minor can have major consequences if not handled correctly and in a timely manner. Spill Center partners with insurance companies to have their insureds register with our service at no charge. Spill generators only pay Spill Center for services that they require after spills. Our goal is to control spill-related costs and limit any liability.

For more information about our program of spill support and environmental claims management, visit our website at Email me at or call me at 978-568-1922 to discuss how we can work together to provide a value-added service to your customers.