Chemists Set Up Hot Line For Hazardous Incidents

Chemists Set Up Hot Line For Hazardous Incidents

Emergency information about hazardous chemicals involved in transportation accidents can now be obtained 24 hours a day, 365 days a year under a program put into operation last month by the Manufacturing Chemists Associations.

The Chemical Transportation Emergency Center, which will probably become better known as CHEMTREC, can be reached by a nationwide telephone number, 800-424-9300. The 800 area code allows the caller to dial a station-to-station call to CHEMTREC without charge. CHEMTREC picks up the phone call cost as a subscriber to wide area telecommunicatetions service. In Washington, D.C., the CHEMTREC phone number is 483-7616.

This new program is designed to assist fire fighters, policemen and others officially involved in handling hazardous chemical incidents that result from accidents on highways, railroads and waterways throughout the country. CHEMTREC is under the direction of John C. Zercher, a chemical engineer and transportation safety authority, who has a staff of five information communicators.

In preparing this voluntary activity of the Manufacturing Chemists Association, 1825 Connecticut Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C. 20009, Zercher and his staff compiled information on how hundreds of chemicals should be handled in emergency situations. This information was cross-referenced by both chemical and trade names, and chemicals with similar reaction characteristics were placed in meaningful categories.

The MCA developers of CHEMTREC feel that as the program becomes more widely accepted as the central information facility for information about chemicals in transportation incidents, most companies and organizations that now maintain their own information programs will become participants in the new system. The Du Pont Company has already merged its transportation emergency reporting procedure (TERP) with CHEMTREC, and MCA will coordinate its program with that of the Chlorine Institute and the telephone central system of the National Agricultural Chemicals Association.

CHEMTREC can trace its origin back to the MCA Chem-Card program that was initiated in 1964, according to William J. Driver, MCA president, who explained that “much of the information for the CHEMTREC system has been adapted from the ChemCards which proved so successful over the past seven years.” Driver added that truck drivers will continue to carry Chem-Cards, which also will be used by shippers to provide emergency information about 85 chemicals.

MCA officials pointed out that CHEMTREC is strictly an emergency operation provided for the fire, police and other emergency services and is not a source of general chemical industry information of a nonemergency character.

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