Tanner Industries - Distributor of anhydrous and aqua ammonia

September 30, 2009
McDonough, GA

Fire Department HazMat Response Teams and Industry Practice With Live Ammonia Release Exercises

Tanner Industries, Inc., PM HazMat Inc and Atlanta based Nordic Cold Storage, LLC, cumulated 3 days of ammonia safety and emergency response training with live release anhydrous ammonia exercises across from the Atlanta Motor Speedway in McDonough, GA area.

The first 2 days of training consisted of custom classroom sessions as well as 8 hour operations and technician level responder refresher training. The training was facilitated at 2 training locations, north and south of Atlanta in Henry County and at the Roswell-Alpharetta Public Safety Training center. The training was presented by David Binder, Director of Quality, Safety & Regulatory Affairs for Tanner Industries, a national supplier and distributor of ammonia, and J. Patrick Johnson from PM Hazmat, a training and consulting company. Binder and Johnson are recognized as premier trainers and 2 of the finest in the world in regards to ammonia and emergency response.

The classroom portion included training on the chemical and physical properties of anhydrous ammonia, packaging and transportation equipment, health effects, first aid, types of potential releases and response recommendations. The classroom sessions were attended by various industry and fire department personnel, including Nordic Cold Storage, LLC, Vesacold Logistics, SuperValu, Ingles Markets, fire departments from Henry County, Cowetta County, Martinez Columbia, DeKalb County, Clayton County, Cherokee Fire Department, and many others. Fire department personnel attended from as far away as Quincy, Florida.

The highlight of the training program included live release exercises on September 30. This was a multi-jurisdictional exercise involving several fire departments and industry personnel. Other exercises including incident command, hazmat and medical rescue were included as part of the program. This was the 8th year of this growing program with record attendance, including more than 150 participants for the hands on live release drill. This year more than 300 training certificates were presented to classroom and drill attendees combined.

Henry County set up a command bus to coordinate the day's events. Four separate hazmat divisions, lead by Henry County, DeKalb County, Cherokee and Clayton County, with each division comprised of several teams of industry hazmat technicians and fire fighter hazmat technicians, worked on control and containment procedures involving live releases of anhydrous ammonia. The response teams were comprised of both industry and public sector personnel jointly working together. This year's program included participation from Kappler which provided new style Level A suits for the live release exercises, Hepaco, a response company, set up a flare demo, and equipment support from Department of Homeland Security was presented.

Anhydrous ammonia is used extensively in industrial refrigeration locations, power plants for pollution control, water treatment facilities, pharmaceutical industry, petrochemical industry and for fertilizers. It is also a building block for many valuable and needed chemicals and materials.

It was commented by several participants that this type of training is instrumental in preparedness efforts in case of a release. Binder and Johnson stated that programs like this promote the effective coordination of response efforts with all stakeholders and the Atlanta area program is a benchmark model that could be used across the entire country for hazardous materials response training, cooperation and teamwork between industry and public sector personnel.

Each year the ammonia release drill critique, which closes the drill activities, is followed by an hour's worth of old fashioned camaraderie among firefighters and industry alike sharing lots of pizza and cold soft drinks and building even closer relationships vital for enhanced emergency response joint team efforts. For more information on the next Atlanta program, contact Leo Eleuterius, Program Coordinator at 770-871-2661.