Hazmat drives by us every day: Here’s how Belmont County keeps track of it

Belmont County

Belmont County, Ohio (WTRF) – You may not notice it, but hazardous materials drive by you in trucks every day on the highway.

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And if there’s an accident—emergency crews have to know how to deal with thousands of different dangerous chemicals.

Trucks carrying them have a four-digit number in a diamond shape somewhere on them, which represent a certain type of hazmat.

That’s what emergency officials look out for once a year in what’s called a commodity flow study.

Emergency Management Agency Director Dave Ivan says you’d be amazed at what moves through Belmont County every day.

We get everything from corrosives, to oxidizers, to home heating fuel, gasoline and propane.

Dave Ivan, Belmont County EMA Director

So once a year, they get a sample of what they’re dealing with.

For an entire day, they watch the trucks that go by and write down that four-digit number.

They started at 10 this morning and will continue through tomorrow.

Usually we’ve got two people keeping an eye on the highway, one with a pair of binoculars that kind of looks on up the road, see if they notice a truck with the placard, then as they come closer you can actually read it.

Dave Ivan, Belmont County EMA Director

Once they collect all that info, Ivan will look at how many loads of what materials go by and how dangerous they are.

He’ll then share it with first responders countywide, even if they’re nowhere near the highway.

Mutual aid. Even though they’re from Martins Ferry, they could end up out here on the interstate helping us assist with something. So they need to have that idea of what’s going on also.

Dave Ivan, Belmont County EMA Director

However—their main priority is keeping everyone safe.

It’s not the county’s job to clean up the hazmat if it gets released—that falls to the company responsible.

And our biggest thing is diesel fuel. But whoever’s truck the diesel fuel comes out of, they’re responsible for cleanup whether they caused the crash or not.

Dave Ivan, Belmont County EMA Director

He says watching the trucks drive by for 24 hours straight can be tiresome work.

But they’ve done it for 18 years because they’re committed to the safety of those living here and those who are just passing through.

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