Well it finally happened. 38 years out here and had my first hazmat spill. Not something I ever wanted on my record. Not much, but still, any spill was too much. Pick the load up in Indiana. Didn't help the load was a day late being picked up. Seems that less and less drivers are getting the hazmat endorsements. To my way of thinking, all that does is limit my ability to grab a load. Better to roll than sit.
About 300 miles from the receiver I stopped for my milk and cookies break that FMCSA and DOT mandated. Change of duty status means hazmat check. Tires are fine. Seal still in place. Lights all working. Good to go. Because of weight we were running with half tanks. So into the Loves in Tehachapi, Ca I go for fuel. Topped off my one tank. Status change, hazmat check.
What the hell? What's this dripping out of the trailer? Aww crap. Time to find a safe quite corner and call safety.
Sadly, a Sunday morning does not mean people want to hear this kind of call. Made a note of it on my Qualcomm to start the documentation process. Took pictures. Blocked off area. Informed truck stop. Freaked out truck stop manager. Gave manager the name of my company and my contact. From there it was interesting. Safety finally calls back. I was getting a call from our insurance company. Um where is Tehachapi? Is that near a big city? Explain what hazmat we had on. Eight different Class 3 Flammable, four Class 8 Corrosive, and one lonely Class 4.1. Did I know which one was leaking? Sorry, no I do not. They don't pay me to break seals and stick my head in trailers leaking hazmat. Be damned if I'm going to come out looking like one of Mark Tufo's zombies. Not my job. At this point, I got smart. I woke up She Who Keeps Me In Check. That was fun all by itself. Your turn.
I explained what was going on. That we were waiting for hazmat cleanup crew. Someone was supposed to be here within the hour. No, I did not do this on purpose. No, I did not investigate how it happened. Please refer to zombie remark made earlier. Yes, I did this just to mess up your weekend. Just because that's the kind of guy you married.
Clean up supervisor shows up on time. But only he showed up. Waited another ninety minutes for the crew. Supervisor cut bolt seal, opened door. No special clothing, no breathing mask, just every day work clothes. Talk about a disappointment. I was hoping for the astronaut outfit. Scare the drivers. Scare me. Talk about anti-climatic. Two hours of cleanup and they were done. Found the bucket that was leaking. Placed it in its own container. The leak was where the riveted handle broke loose from. Not sure how that happened, but the said, it was not driver’s fault. Either poor loading at shipper or the movement of the dunnage.
And that was our Sunday. I sure hope your day was better. Always remember to take the time out to do the job properly. Things could have gone worse for us.
Till we chat again, be safe out there.
Grumpy is a 38 year veteran of the road. He started his driving career on a ranch where he learned to drive on a 1969 Long-Nose Pete with twin sticks. From there he joined the military, where he drove various DoD trucks and equipment. After his time in the military, Grumpy returned to civilian life as a long-haul truck driver. He's seen a lot, both the good and the bad. Oh the stories can tell, and does, in his own cantankerous way. Grumpy shares his experiences and out-spoken opinions, in hopes to bring trucking back to its once great status, and he needs your help.
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