HAZMAT training exercise shows how crews prepare for chemical spill during a crash

Posted at 2:44 PM, Sep 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-19 18:15:17-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - In Hampton Roads, radioactive materials are frequently being transported on our roads and interstates. While these materials are safe  in their containers, if the vehicle they are in becomes involved in a crash, it could pose a danger to the public.

This is the exact situation that was practiced Thursday morning at the Virginia Beach Fire Training Center. Crews from several area departments participated in the training exercise, working just as they would if this happened on a local road.

With real hazardous material, teams approached the scene of a crash between a box truck and transit vehicle. After learning that there was a dangerous material on board, they shifted gears to determine what the material is and the best way to keep it from getting into the ground or water ways.

Crews worked for hours to secure the site and safely dispose of the material. The only difference between Thursday's training and a real accident is that if this happened on a local road or interstate, there would be traffic backups.

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"The situation would probably take at least three to four hours at a minimum. We would need to get that spill contained, have a clean up contractor come in and take the product and remove it from the scene. Then we would have to get the interstate back open again," explained Battalion Chief Brian Phillips.

While it is a lengthy procedure, it is necessary to make sure everyone is safe.

"A small spill on the side of the interstate could end up traveling and effecting a large area. We want to make sure that we try and decrease that potential," said Chief Phillips. "The importance of it is to make sure that you understand that we are trying to protect the citizens and make sure the environment is taken care of."