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Disposal of contaminated water and associated wastes at incidents

If immediate decontamination is required to reduce the risk to people, the guidance described in the ‘Protocol for the disposal of contaminated water and associated wastes’ should be followed to ensure the safe disposal of contaminated water and wastes arising from decontamination.

Disposal of contaminated water and associated wastes at incidents

The following advice on the decontamination of HVP equipment directly following flooding was produced jointly by the Environment Agency and FRSs.

Vehicles (prime mover)

It’s unlikely that prime movers will have been subject to any gross contamination during normal operations. These vehicles should be washed down as normal within designated areas on fire stations or at a purpose-built vehicle cleaning centre such as a lorry wash facility.

Pumps, hose, couplings and ancillaries

If an HVP has been used to pump river water, or similar, it’s unlikely to require decontamination. All equipment should be flushed with clean mains water allowing the run-off to drain as normal.

Flood water - Low level contamination

Flush all equipment with clean mains water and allow run-off to discharge to a foul sewer, with the local sewerage undertaker’s approval.

Flood water - High level contamination, for example from sewage

Consider using detergent or bleach for the decontamination process after assessing the risk that this might have on HVP equipment. Only equipment which is known to have been contaminated is externally decontaminated using the above products. In this case, run-off water and any flush water used on equipment internally should either be contained and removed by a registered waste carrier or be discharged into a foul sewer with the local sewerage undertaker’s approval. Liaison with the environment agency and local sewerage undertakers must take place before this method of decontamination is used.

Animal or plant disease and non native species

If HVPs and other FRS equipment is used in area where notifiable animal or plant pathogens could be present and non-native species the advice must be followed.

Possible uses of high- volume and other pumps at pollution events

Type of Pollutant

Example Situation

Destination of Material

HVP or other pump use suitable

Low toxicity or harmful substances

Product or firewater contained on the roadway or similar

Foul sewer or containment area or tank

Yes, with permission of sewerage undertaker if discharge to foul. Seek advice of an appropriate environmental agency too. Consider appropriate personal protective equipment, compatibility with FRS equipment and decontamination of equipment.

Organic liquids and sludges such as foodstuffs, silage liquor

Spillage of milk contained in sewer or dammed watercourses.

 

 

Open land, foul sewer, contaminated area or tank

 

Not if ground is saturated or frozen, land drains are present. Not if ground is located within the source protection zone or conservation site

Yes, with permission of landowner, sewerage undertaker or environment agency.

Flammable liquids with firefighting water

Spilt fuel, foamed and contained in bunded area threating to overspill

Contaminated lagoon, balancing pond, oil separator or other containment or treatment facility

Yes, in liaison with environment agency. Avoid transfer of product itself. Only use water-driven or intrinsically safe pumps.

Inorganic solution, slurries, mixtures, suspensions and colloids

Spillage of printing ink, non-organic, or silty water or cement slurry following breach, for example, of a balancing pond at a quarry into dammed stream

Pump to foul sewer or sealed tank or balancing pond. Or for cement slurry divert to an area where it can be contained and allowed to settle and then remove or discharge back to water.

Yes, with permission of sewerage undertaker if discharge to foul. Seek advice of an environmental agency.

 

Consider possible corrosion and abrasion damage potential.

Firewater

Large food processing unit

Recycled firewater run–off and reapply to incident

Yes, need to ensure that firewater run-off is not harmful to firefighters or would worsen the fire or firewater becomes highly concentrated and difficult to dispose of

Contaminated water

Flooded mineshaft threating to overspill

Pump to foul sewer lagoon, treatment systems, balancing pond, or other containment

Yes, with permission of sewerage undertaker if discharge to foul.

 

Seek advice of an environmental agency. Consider appropriate protective equipment and decontamination of equipment.