Eastern Shore Regional Hazmat Team

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eshazmatHazardous materials, or hazmat, are substances that, because of their chemical nature, pose a potential risk to life, health or property if they are released. 

Spills can happen during production, storage, transportation, use or disposal of these substances.

If you suspect a hazardous material incident has occurred, do not attempt to control it.

Call 911 and report the incident.

Locally, responses to hazmat incidents are handled through the Eastern Shore Regional Hazardous Materials Response Team (ESRHMRT). The Eastern Shore Regional Hazardous Materials Response Team (ESRHMRT) was formed by the Counties of Accomack and Northampton in 1992 in order to respond to hazardous materials emergencies on the Eastern Shore of Virginia and to support the mission of the Technological Hazards Division of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM). The team serves citizens by responding and mitigating hazardous materials emergencies on the Eastern Shore and supports the emergency services jurisdictions of Accomack County, Northampton County, and the Town of Chincoteague.

This team has the ability to provide long term larger scale decontamination in the field for persons and or equipment. Its activation may be in response to bio-hazard isolation (avian flu) in the poultry industry, farm chemical accidents, weapons of mass destruction, and everything else in between. The overwhelming type of local response is hydro-carbon releases and the team does everything possible to mitigate and clean up small spills when possible; however, there may be an occasional release that requires a Level III team back up and support. Clean up work, except for minimal spills, is generally contracted out and billed to the responsible party.

Currently, a fire medic with the Accomack County Department of Public Safety serves as Team Leader. The rest of team are volunteers (one of only two volunteer teams in the state and the smaller of the two). All members are current or former members of local emergency services organizations. Most members are Hazardous Materials Technicians, trained through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM). Membership is open to qualified applicants. Monthly training is scheduled either at the Eastern Shore Fire Training Center or Melfa Fire and Rescue Station 10.

The legal duty for reporting, containment, and clean up of hazardous substances incidents rest with the party responsible for the material prior to the incident. If the manufacturer, shipper, citizen or other responsible party is unable to respond, neglects to take the proper steps, or lacks the capability to act, then local government, within its capability, must act to prevent or minimize injuries and property damage. Accomack County has established and maintains working relationships with local industrial plants and commercial facilities where hazardous materials are used, stored, manufactured, or disposed of. The Eastern Shore Disaster Preparedness Coalition (ESDPC) provides a platform for this relationship to exist and serves as the local emergency planning committee (LEPC) for local emergency services jurisdictions. Local government has the primary responsibility for protecting the public. Depending upon the magnitude or severity of the situation, Emergency Management will coordinate actions necessary to provide public warnings, initiate protective actions, and isolate the general area affected.

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