BASF trains for the worstPublished 12:11am Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Last week employees of BASF in Attapulgus zipped into giant orange HAZMAT suits resembling parking cones, scaled a large train car and daringly went inside.
While there was no real emergency at the BASF plant, the scene was serious and those in the orange suits, known as technicians, were training for the worst.
Each year BASF conducts training exercises to certify employees for handling a crisis or some sort of accident while dealing with hazardous chemicals.
“We do this training annually but every two years we run the full-blown course where we run actual drills with rail cars and storage tanks,” Tracy Horne, training and security coordinator for BASF Attapulgus said.
Horne said they trained this year with a special car affectionately called “Mr. T.” The rail car, painted green with the company’s logo, travels across the country throughout the year, making stops at different BASF locations for emergency training.
“This is a good thing for Decatur county,” Attapulgus Operations Manager David Simkins said. “You always want to be prepared. We do a lot of things to make sure this is safeguarded and we are handling our materials responsibly. This type of training here and these types of events gets us there.”
Simkins said it is rare that a crisis would occur, but if it were to happen, they plan to be ready.
Included in the training last week was the Decatur County Fire Department. Horne said the fire department officials train alongside the BASF technicians so they would know how to help respond to the situation. This also gives an opportunity for the two parties to get to know one another, so they are not dealing with strangers in the event of an emergency.
A chain of command is notified in the event of a crisis or some sort of hazardous material spill. The Decatur County officials would be notified, and if needed, they would notify residents in the community if they needed to seek shelter or relocate.
“If an incident were to occur we go through a very planned crisis management process,” Horne said.
There are now more than 30 technicians certified at BASF to handle crisis management and Simkins and Horne said there will be more in years to come.