Hazardous material, or HAZMAT, causes harm to health or shipboard conditions if used improperly, accidentally spilled or deliberately mixed. The material’s chemical characteristics, concentration, quantity or physical traits determine its hazardous category.
Every HAZMAT user needs to be familiar with the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) assigned to each item that contains the most current information from the manufacturer, including handling, precautions and clean-up procedures.
“Always have the same person that checked out the HAZMAT return it, and you must know exactly what kind of HAZMAT you’re returning,” said Chief Logistics Specialist William Taylor, HAZMAT environmental team leading chief petty officer. “The person checking it out may be the only one knowledgeable to handle the HAZMAT.”
Many types of HAZMAT can be checked out from ship’s HAZMAT Central, located in the starboard side of the hangar bay.
The most common types of HAZMAT used aboard Peleliu are cleaning products, adhesives, detergents, soaps, as well as photo and printer chemicals like copier toner. Others types include acids, greases, hydraulic fluid, fluorescent light bulbs, wet lead batteries, and everyday alkaline batteries.
HAZMAT Central will issue containers labeled in accordance to OPNAVINST 5100.19E, “Navy Safety and Occupational Health (SOH) Program Manual for Forces Afloat”, Chapter C23 to include the following:
“… Clearly indentify the material name, the manufacturer’s name and address, stock number, HCC, and the nature of the hazard … including target organ potentially affected by the material.”
This information can be found from the material safety data sheet. A copy can be requested from HAZMAT Central.
“The MSDS contains details about every type of HAZMAT such as boiling points, flash points, and the correct way to dispose of the material,” said Logistics Specialist Seaman Juan Cortes-Ramos, who works in HAZMAT Central aboard Peleliu.
Often, people request HAZMAT as required for preventive maintenance. The required personal protective equipment (PPE) to be worn while handling the material will be on the maintenance requirement card. Some examples of PPE are ear plugs, goggles and chemical gloves. Improper or non-use of PPE can lead to serious bodily harm.
What are some of the dangers of leaving these materials lying around?
Abandoning HAZMAT such as oily rags, paint debris, and used paint brushes could cause danger to personnel and to the ship. For example, oily rags left in angle irons or on the deck could spontaneously ignite, creating a Class B fire that could cost millions in damage and could kill or injure sailors and Marines. Also materials could mix with others to create a volatile compound.
According to the Command Hazardous Material Control and Management Program instruction, PELELIUINST 5100.6E, any person found abandoning hazardous material will be subjected to Uniform Code of Military Justice due to, though not limited to, potential harm or death of personnel, disregard of regulations, or accessory after the fact.
This could be a result of neglect or improper supervision and training.
Afloat Hazardous Material Control and Management Guidelines Volume II: Hazardous Materials Users Guide (HMUG) and OPNAVINST 5100.19E’s chapter C23 govern the proper storage of HAZMAT. The HMUG breaks down HAZMAT into 20 groups. The guide acts as a “supplement” to the material data sheets. In addition to safety and first aid precautions, each section covers storage of the HAZMAT type.
“Storing HAZMAT includes proper stowage temperature and making sure the material is not located in the vicinity of other material that could cause a reaction when mixed,” said Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Omar Gallardo, HAZMAT division leading petty officer. “Only authorized work centers with approved lockers are allowed to store material outside HAZMAT Central.”
In the event of HAZMAT spills or mixes with other chemicals on board, contact the fire marshall or Damage Control Central to call away an appropriate level of response. Peleliu’s damage control assistant conducts semi-annual spill response drills to train and test the team.
“It’s important that the team performs the proper steps to ensure that the spill is properly contained and cleaned,” said Gallardo. “Not doing so could result in severe, hazardous damage.”
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By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Valerie M. Grayson, USS Peleliu Public Affairs
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