Reports, inspections keep the county safe

Inspections, mapping and submitted reports of hazardous chemicals in the county provide more safety in the event of an emergency.

Any business in the county with hazardous materials over certain thresholds is required by the county and the state to register them and file plans to help emergency responders know what they face if there is a release, fire or other type of emergency at the site.

By law, the local Emergency Management Agency (EMA) also is required to inspect these facilities. Auglaize County conducts inspections of each facility every five years as it inspects 13 businesses with hazardous materials each year.

“We are ensuring the records are accurate, that they have the chemicals they say they do, that they are where they say they are, and in the amount they say they have,” county EMA Director Troy Anderson said.

A new stipulation also now requires that facilities that handle used motor oil and at any given time have 2,000 or more gallons on hand to burn for heat also must report that to the EMA.

“They are now required to call into the office and get a permit,” Anderson said.

The $250 permit could save the businesses several thousand dollars in penalty and citation fines.

Those handling and shipping out large quantities of motor oil as waste are not required to have a permit.

Countywide, Anderson said 68 facilities report having hazardous materials at this time, however he knows there are more out there.

As the county gets new facilities, that number increases, but it has remained fairly steady the last few years because of other facilities which have closed.

“It seems there are still those who are not aware,” Anderson said of the law which took effect in 1987.

“Once we find them, we give them the paperwork to fill out so they can get a permit and begin reporting,” Anderson said, of the information that is required as part of citizens’ right to know what is around them. “We do still find businesses that haven’t complied. If it is repetitive, enforcement action is taken.”

He said typically once the owners of a business are made aware of the situation, they get into compliance.

Anderson said in performing facility inspections he carries with him a book that has between 15 and 20 pages of cross references to approximately 1,000 extremely hazardous chemicals.

Hazardous materials include a wide range of things, from the more common gasoline to xylene. Typically the harder it is to pronounce, the more hazardous it is, Anderson said.

Going with him on his inspections are local fire chiefs, who also are presented with a copy of the report and information to maintain in the case of an emergency at the facility.

“It’s a safety issue and is about preplanning” said Anderson, who also keeps the information in his computer database, which he would have with him at the scene of any emergency situation.

“First responders know what they are getting into,” he said. “They know the number of employees per shift, have photos of the inside of the facility. Based on what is stored at a facility, they know what they need to do in an emergency.”