Any project that involves the use or transport of materials has the potential to release contaminants into the environment. Cleanup of these releases (intentional or not) can be very expensive and time consuming. Developing a well thought out contaminant control process before operations begin or when changing operations can reduce the overall costs and liabilities associated with the project.
A contaminant can be defined as any substance that causes harm to humans or the environment. Two main categories include inorganic compounds (lead, mercury, nickel, chlorides, sulfates) and organic compounds (benzene, toluene, ethyl-benzene, xylene, petroleum). They can be released as gases, liquids, solids, or aerosols. Once released, they can be spread out over very large areas by wind and water. The longer a release is allowed to disperse, the larger an area it will contaminate.
No site wants to have spills, accidents, or disasters, but they can happen at even the most well-run site. This article will provide some general advice on how to reduce the chances of releasing a contaminant and to minimize the impact if one occurs.
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