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Reporting Hazardous Materials

WSDOT reports to a number of different regulators depending on the specific HazMat issue. Timely and accurate reporting helps protect the environment and minimize project delays. WSDOT HazMat Specialist help the agency report the more common issues listed below as well as other issues that may arise. Please contact a WSDOT HazMat Specialist with questions.

Internal Reporting During Construction – ECAP

For environmental incidents that occur during construction projects, WSDOT Project Engineers use the Environmental Compliance Assurance Procedure (ECAP) (pdf 1.75 mb) as described in the WSDOT Construction Manual, Section 1-2.2K(1). The ECAP includes steps for notifying WSDOT management and regulatory agencies. The following HazMat related incidents are covered:

  • Any spill, or release of hazardous materials, petroleum products, or chemicals to:
    • Water or areas that have the potential to enter waters of the state (i.e., stormwater conveyances, ditches, swales, ground water).
    • Land, when the spill or release is an immediate threat to human health or the environment (i.e., dangerously toxic, explosive or flammable situations that result in severe or substantial consequences).
  • Encountering an unknown underground storage tank.

Spills from Construction Activities

WSDOT has a Spill Reporting Flow Chart (pdf 42 kb) that contractors and staff can use as a quick reference for how to report spills. Spills caused by the contractor are the contractor’s responsibility to report, cleanup, and dispose of properly. The first reporting step is for the contractor to notify the WSDOT Project Engineer, who will follow ECAP as necessary. The next reporting steps depend on whether the spill is to water or soil. Spill reporting information is also available on every project site within the Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) Plan. SPCC Plans are required to be up-to-date and immediately available on every WSDOT project.


Highway Spills caused by the Traveling Public

WSDOT staff immediately report highway spills and identifies the responsible party to the Washington State Patrol (WSP) and Ecology. Neither WSDOT nor its contractors are responsible to clean up spills that result from the traveling public. If the spill is an immediate threat to human health or the environment (e.g., tank truck leaking into a water body of the state), WSDOT staff take reasonable actions to contain the spill until the WSP or Ecology arrives on the scene. Reasonable actions depend upon the expertise of the WSDOT staff at the scene and the materials that are available to them. WSDOT may recover cleanup costs at a later date if or when the State identifies a responsible party.

Contaminated Soil or Water Requirements

WSDOT can encounter contamination at any time. Usually WSDOT identifies contamination while completing a HazMat investigation prior to construction or during construction work. If the discovery occurs during construction, contractors notify the WSDOT PE who will initiate ECAP. In either case, the PE coordinates with a WSDOT HazMat Specialist to determine if the contamination may be a threat to human health or the environment. WSDOT HazMat Specialists determine if a site is a threat based on best professional judgment (e.g., site specific conditions) and physical evidence (e.g., lab data, field instruments).

Once WSDOT determines that a site may be a threat to human health or the environment, WSDOT does one of two things:

  • If WSDOT is the owner or operator of the site, WSDOT reports the discovery to Ecology within 90 days per the requirements of the Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA).
  • If WSDOT is not the owner or operator of the site, WSDOT reports the discovery to the property owner as soon as possible.

A WSDOT HazMat Specialist should draft or review all notification letters submitted to Ecology or property owners. WSDOT regional offices are required to provide copies of all Ecology letters related to contamination on WSDOT property to the Environmental Services Office within 30 days of receipt.

Underground Storage Tank (UST) Requirements

Ecology must receive notification of releases from USTs within 24 hours. If WSDOT staff or a contractor finds an unknown tank during construction, they immediately (pdf 42 kb) notify the PE who will initiate ECAP. In these cases, WSDOT must provide a status report to Ecology within 20 days.

In general, WSDOT removes USTs when possible instead of closing them in place. USTs are typically removed prior to construction in an effort to avoid construction delays. However, a project office may opt to remove a UST as a part of construction by incorporating a Project-Specific Special Provision into the contract. WSDOT follows Ecology’s UST Regulations and if there is a confirmed release from a UST, the MTCA Cleanup Regulations.

WSDOT completes the following steps and notifications when removing USTs:

  • Submit a 30-Day Notice to Ecology or contact the Regional Ecology Office for a waiver to this requirement if necessary to avoid project delays.
  • Contact the local fire marshal, health department, and planning department to determine local permits or requirements. 
  • Hire a certified contractor to remove the UST. A certified UST Site Assessor must be present during removal to sample and document UST closure activities.
  • Notify Ecology within 24 hours if there is a confirmed or suspected release.
  • Provide the appropriate report(s) to Ecology:

The WSDOT HazMat Program has certified UST Site Assessors that are responsible for submitting report(s) to Ecology. When preparing a report, WSDOT follows the 2003 Ecology document, “Guidance for Site Checks and Site Assessments for Underground Storage Tanks”.

Some USTs are exempt (pdf 74 kb) from Ecology regulations but may be regulated by local agencies. Contact a WSDOT HazMat Specialist with questions. WSDOT requires and performs a site assessment even when removing non-regulated USTs.

For more UST information visit Ecology’s UST web page.


Dangerous Waste Reporting

WSDOT typically generates dangerous waste during bridge painting or removal projects and rarely when excavating contaminated soils. As the waste generator, WSDOT is responsible for obtaining a RCRA Site ID Number from Ecology if necessary. Ecology assigns a RCRA Site ID Number to a particular waste generating site, so different WSDOT projects require separate numbers. WSDOT Contractors use the RCRA Site ID Number for transporting and disposing of the waste. The steps below outline the process WSDOT normally follows when dealing with dangerous waste on construction projects.

General Process for Handling and Reporting Dangerous Waste:

    • Collect and analyze samples of a waste
    • Compare sample results to the Dangerous Waste Regulations
    • Designate waste and assign waste code(s)
    • Obtain a RCRA Site ID Number
    • Accumulate waste on site for no longer than 90 days
    • Complete a Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest
    • Transport the waste to a treatment or disposal facility
    • File an Annual Report before March 1st of each year
    • Close the RCRA Site ID Number
    • Maintain records for five years

WSDOT HazMat Specialist assist WSDOT PEs throughout the process described above. When determining which lab analysis to run on samples in order to characterize the waste for disposal, WSDOT uses information about the site history and past practices. With bridge painting and removal projects, metals are most often the main concern. See the discussion of Lead Based Paint Waste for a brief discussion of how WSDOT handles this potential dangerous waste stream.

Additional information about Dangerous Waste is available on Ecology’s website.