Report hazardous materials releases and oil spills by dialing 911, or call the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802.
On average, the federal government receives 12 reports of hazardous substance releases every day. In many cases, the person or company responsible for the release is the one who discovers and reports it. In other cases, a local policeman or firefighter who is trained in recognizing and responding to hazardous substance threats discovers the release. Occasionally, however, hazardous substance releases are discovered by ordinary people as they go about their day-to-day activities: construction workers may find leaking drums at a property being developed, residents near a landfill may notice a foul taste or odor in their drinking water, or passers-by may discover illegally dumped chemicals in an abandoned lot.
Understanding the warning signs of a chemical release can mean the difference between a minor incident and a tragic event. Should you ever discover a hazardous substance release, you should report it as quickly as possible to local officials and take precautions to protect yourself and those nearby. Always put your own safety first. Responding safely to hazardous substance releases requires the expertise and training of seasoned professionals. Non-professionals who attempt to respond to these incidents may become part of the problem, not part of the solution.
Once a hazardous substance release has been discovered and reported, the federal government will initiate established procedures for safely investigating and responding to the threat.