Those who fear that terrorists may strike next with hazardous chemical may take some solace from a communications center that provides round-the-clock resources for emergency responders.
The Chemical Transportation Emergency Center (Chemtrec), has operated as a public service of the American Chemistry Council since 1971, helping firefighters, emergency medical personnel and law enforcement officials deal with spills, leaks, fires, and exposures involving hazardous chemicals.
When it began Chemtrec handled 8,000 calls a year; last year the number of calls was ten times that number.
Although Chemtrec''s mission is focused primarily on the transportation of hazardous chemicals, the center answered calls from emergency responders at both the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Transporting hazardous chemicals has always involved inherent risks, but the Sept. 11 catastrophe has heightened concerns among industry observers.
The center has four components:
- Prevention - Chemtrec works with local emergency responders and shippers to make them aware of applicable regulations and safety procedures;
- Preparedness - via outreach to emergency responders;
- Emergency response - when an incident occurs, Chemtrec provides immediate information and assistance. The center maintains technical information and material safety data sheets on most of the known chemical agents.
- Recovery - Chemtrec maintains a network of contractors for site clean up and remediation.
by James L. Nash