A look inside Ecology's Spill Response Program - Lake Harding Association

A look inside Ecology’s Spill Response Program

A look inside Ecology’s Spill Response Program

By Micah Moen 0 Comment February 11, 2020

So, my name is Sam Hunn and I supervise the
response team in Central and Eastern Washington. Our main spill responses out here would be
truck wrecks with diesel or other fuels released to pavement, the roadway, the shoulder, maybe
water impacts. And also drug labs. Back in the heyday of meth labs, back in the
late 90s, the state legislature mandated that Ecology would be responsible for the cleanup
of drug labs, to include removal of hazmats, that kind of thing. We go in there with law enforcement and we
help them identify what hazards they might need to look out for while they’re working
the site and then we pick up any wastes that could impact either human health or the environment
if we were to leave them there. I’ve been with spill response over a decade
now, it’s hard to believe. It’s always changing, it’s always evolving,
it always feels like it’s something new. I’d say probably the biggest thing I love
about it is the community, the response community, both inside Ecology and outside Ecology. These are people that genuinely want to get
out there and make a difference, they want to have a positive impact and they have kind
of a go-getter attitude. So, getting to work in that community is,
it’s a joy, it’s a lot of fun and it keeps you motivated. I think the biggest hazards would be working
on the side of the road at a truck wreck. People often think it’s gonna be something
like working with a toxic chemical and you know, we’re suited up and we’ve got gas masks
on and that kind of thing. But when you’re confident in your equipment
and your training, then you’re confident working in those environments and you can mitigate
that risk. You can’t mitigate what other people are doing
on the roadway. Probably one of the most formative responses for me in my career, as well as personally, was the Oso landslide. It was a story about human tragedy as well
as well as the environment, and being able to go there and help provide benefit to both, it was heavy and it was incredibly rewarding at the same time. Knowing that members from the community had
been out there, members of fire response, the police, National Guard, all these different
entities were out there working in that muck and we had the opportunity to help them collect
the hazmats and get that stuff out of there to help reduce exposure to that stuff for
the community and first responders. That really impacted me from the standpoint
of reinforcing the importance of what we do.

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