Firefighting

Haz-mat releases into sewers

Issue 7 and Volume 148.

Haz-mat releases into sewers Anthony M. Gaglierd, RO Allegheny County (PA) Hazardous Materials Unit Red Team I commend Gregory Noll for his excellent article “Handling Haz Mats: Subsurface Spills and Releases into a Sewer System” (April 1955). I would like to share some of my experiences in investigating similar incidents. When discharged into sewers or the ground, liquids normally will follow the same path as the water. Vapors can travel in the opposite direction due to temperature differences, differences in elevation, pressure differentials, and the “chimney effect.” In soils, as Noll points out, vapors will take the path of least resistance, following water, sewer, gas, or utility lines due to the porous nature of the backfill used. This phenomenon causes some homes or buildings to be affected while others are not. It is not uncommon to find that the pathway for vapors into a building is through foundation walls or…

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