Managing Risk During Environmental Emergencies


Having a process of how to approach spills when the inevitably do occur can be extremely important. Part of having the right approach to spills or emergencies includes having a plan, the right team, employee training, and many other parts. Having intricate plans to combat spills can help to reduce both the cost and severity of the spill.

General Process

  • Prevention/ Preparation
  • Control
    • Additional Releases/ Impacts
    • Response Actions
    • Employee Actions
    • Media Actions
    • Regulatory Action/ Involvement/ Reporting
    • Security
  • Countermeasures/ Damage Control
  • Documentation


  • While most spills, catastrophes, etc. can be prepared for, they cannot always be prevented or effectively controlled initially (weather disasters, vandalism, sabotage, etc.).
  • These events are often a matter of “scale”
    • Spill or releases can vary in both size and expense
  • These are not planned events

Prevention/ Preparation


  • SPCC, SWPPP, Facility Response Plans, etc.
  • Environmental/ Spill Response Planning
  • Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know
  • Media/ Public Relations Procedures
  • Legal Planning
  • Severe weather procedures/ preparation


  • Employee training
  • Corporate policies (social media, etc.)
  • Containment/ control training

Review and/or Secure

  • Insurance policies and coverage
  • Corporate procedures
  • Support resources (security, environmental, communication, legal, waste management, etc.)

Environmental Liability

  • Reduced profits and increased expenses
  • Environmental enforcement fines
  • Third party suits
  • Injuries or damage to human health
  • Shared cost for co-mingled contamination
  • Poor public relations and public perception
  • Poor neighbor relations
  • Distractions from normal business issues
  • Damage to natural resources
  • Property devaluation

Ignorance of environmental regulations is not an acceptable defense.

During an Incident

  • Recognize and acknowledge the incident
  • Protect employees and the public
  • Notify local authorities (i.e., call 911)
  • Contain and control the release (if safely possible)
  • Stop additional releases (if safely possible)
  • Properly report the incident and suspected incidents (NCDENR, SCDHEC, National Response Center, etc.)
  • Activate your environmental response team (environmental consultant, spill response contractor, etc.)
  • Cooperate with regulatory agencies

Concerns Regarding During and After an Incident

Some concerns that may continue during and after the incident are…

  • Release reporting requirements and response updates
  • Discharge of contaminated stormwater or fire-suppression water
  • Soil and groundwater contamination
  • Air contamination
  • Environmental monitoring
  • Waste recovery and disposal
  • Permit compliance
  • SPCC plan review
  • Media inquiries and stories
  • Social media “posts”
  • Third-party concerns

After The Incident/ Emergency

  • Continue to prevent additional chemical releases
  • Properly assess and document all environmental impacts (soil, water, air, groundwater, etc.) and any remediation efforts
  • Properly remediate impacted soil, groundwater, and surface water
  • Communicate with appropriate regulatory agencies
  • Determine and evaluate the cause of the incident
  • Continue to update and work with your response partners
  • Be prepared for additional regulatory involvement and potential fines
  • Be prepared for possible media inquiries
  • Be prepared for third-party claims, lawsuits, etc.
  • Review the incident – causation, response activities, etc.

How To Select a Support Team

Not every attorney, environmental consultant, security consultant, or public relations consultant will match your organization.

Environmental Consultant

  • Reputable and reliable
  • Regulatory knowledge and experience
  • Experienced in emergency response
  • Availability and response time
  • Available resources
  • Billing rates
  • Contractor vs Consultant

Security Consultant

  • Reputable and reliable
  • Experience and expertise
  • Response time
  • Available resources
  • Billing rates


  • Reputable and reliable
  • Wide range of expertise (environmental, litigation, etc.)
  • Local presence
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Billing rates

Public Relations/ Media Consultant

  • Reputable and reliable
  • Experienced in crisis communication
  • Local presence
  • Availability
  • Reputation/ experience with local media outlets
  • Billing rates


Although at first making a spill plan may seem complicated, consulting the right professional can make it much easier. For more information regarding what your company can do to both prepare for spills and combat them when they occur, please reach out to for more information.

Related Posts

About Us
Silhouette picture of an engineer

We offer quality services with the best possible performance and have developed a strong reputation for efficiency and reliability. With the client in focus, we guarantee a professional and competent response from our highly qualified staff.

Let’s Socialize

Popular Post